The Department for Education and Skills has confirmed that not all schools will be obliged to provide the “core offer” of extended services – providing they help pupils and their families access the services nearby instead.
Teachers’ unions had raised concern about the pressure schools would be under if they were all forced to deliver the full extended school core offer of childcare, a varied menu of activities, sports and arts facilities for the wider community, parenting support, referrals to other services, and adult education.
But the DfES confirmed this week that the emphasis was on schools offering access to all these services, not necessarily providing them in-house.
However, a spokesperson acknowledged that, in rural areas, the burden of delivery would inevitably fall more heavily on individual schools.
“It is about access to the core offer,” he said. “A group of schools in close proximity should be complementing rather than replicating services. However, schools in isolated, rural areas will obviously have to offer all the services themselves, working with the private and voluntary sectors.”
The importance of working with third-party providers to develop new services and support existing provision is highlighted in the latest extended schools guidance, published this week.
The guidance also addresses the issue of charging for some services, stressing the need to consult on all charges first and for schools to use their delegated budgets to subsidise paid-for services for children from lower income families.