A new awards scheme is being launched today (9 March) to challenge children and young people to get active, creative, stay safe and broaden their horizons.

Opportunity Notts will encourage primary and secondary school pupils to take part in a range of activities – working towards awards at different levels over the course of their school careers.

Run by Nottingham City Council, schools are being urged to sign up to enable children aged five to 16 to try new things, challenge themselves and discover more about their community, their city and beyond.

The free online scheme has been successfully piloted in 9 schools in the City. It is designed to celebrate the hard work and brilliant things children and young people do both in and out of formal education settings. Opportunity Notts is about broadening the horizons of young people and their families in Nottingham. It will encourage them to develop healthy lifestyles, life skills needed to make mature decisions when older and prepare them for life beyond school by engaging in learning through broad, balanced and varied experiences.

Opportunity Notts joins up learning between school, home and after-school clubs by rewarding all of the activities young people participate in. Activities completed in school and those done with extra-curricular groups, such as uniformed organisations, sports or arts clubs and faith groups, can all be signed off on the scheme’s website.

Coming together to form a record of achievement for each young person, every level is designed to boost attainment, teach useful life skills, and give those taking part a fantastic experience of a wide range of different activities.

The new scheme is being launched as part of the Primary Parliament at Nottingham Council House on Wednesday 9 March by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Cllr Jackie Morris, and Nottingham’s Portfolio Holder for Schools, Cllr Sam Webster.

Cllr Webster said: “Through Opportunity Notts we want children and young people in Nottingham’s schools to unlock their potential and take part in the full range of learning experiences the City has to offer. They’ll sharpen their skills, boost their brain power and uncover more about where they live whilst helping to prepare them for the world beyond their school years. Opportunity Notts is designed to give the city’s next generation the skills and confidence they need to succeed.”

Opportunity Notts has been designed specifically for Nottingham and is a partnership between the City Council’s SOLAR (Sport, Outdoor Learning, Life Skills, Adventure and Risk Management) team, Nottingham design firm Rizk-McCay and Nottingham start-up web developer Impression.

Paul Charly, Deputy Head Teacher at Forest Fields Primary school, whose year 6 students were involved with the pilot scheme, said: “Opportunity Notts has been fantastic when we’ve been trialling it in school. It has given us the perfect platform on which we can offer experiences that will help to nurture and develop the key character traits in our pupils. The fact that all children can participate, and also that many of the activities, especially in the earlier levels, can be achieved at school or within planned school experiences is exciting too.

With the class teacher as mentor, they have a powerful tool from which to encourage and focus the children, as well as a key tool to monitor and celebrate outcomes and achievements. We will be able to use Opportunity Notts during whole school assemblies, again to highlight achievements and successes.

The site is easy to navigate and has enough detail to point both children and mentors, both in school and out, in the right direction. We’ll be looking to invite parents to our launch of the site when it goes school-wide as we see that having the parents involved will be key to ensuring that the children can access these valuable and possibly life changing challenges.”

How Opportunity Notts works

All young people in the city will be able to sign up for an Opportunity Notts online log-in as soon as their school has registered as an organisation and can act as the administrator. Young people will be supervised on the site by a mentor for their group. This will be a teacher, group leader from Scouts or Guides, coach at a sports club or, for levels 1-2, a parent or guardian.

Opportunity Notts is 125 challenges from across Nottingham and the region, divided into 5 levels. To complete a level, young people have to get 20+ challenges signed-off by a mentor. When they complete a task they sign it off on their online profile, which alerts the mentor to verify this. Once 20 or more challenges have been completed, participants get a certificate celebrating their achievement and can move on to the next stage! Through the site children and young people will also be able to track their progress against others in their groups via a challenges leader board!

Challenges range from tying your own shoelaces at Level 1 right through to planning and going on a two day adventure expedition at Level 5 with loads more besides in-between. From going swimming to seeing a show at one of the city’s theatres, rock climbing at Colwick Park to cheering on Forest or County, there’s challenges for everyone.

Young people will be able to sign-up for Opportunity Notts via their school, once their school has registered as an organisation. The council is supporting all schools in city in their getting involved in the scheme and should contact hello@oppnotts.org.uk to express their interest. Over the coming weeks and months, schools will have their opportunity to receive a support session to fully demonstrate the system to staff and assist in getting all pupils signed-up online. This will be extended to community organisations in the city very soon too!

To find out more about Opportunity Notts visit www.oppnotts.org.uk.  People can also get in touch on Twitter – @oppnotts, on Facebook – www.facebook.com/OppNotts or using the hashtag #makeyourmark.