Extend – yourself

There’s nothing too remarkable about a school running an
after-hours club nowadays, but what about having a social worker,
doctor, dentist, and optician regularly on site? This was the
situation observed by Ty Goddard when he visited “full service
schools” in New York during half-term recently. Goddard, who is
Brighton and Hove Council’s strategic manager for schools in the
community, was there on business as Brighton and Hove was one of 25
local education authorities to be granted pathfinder status in
December 2002 for the extended school model (news analysis, page
14, 24 April).

In New York, the idea for full service schools really took off in
1992 when voluntary organisation The Children’s Aid Society had “a
shared vision of the improvement of the health of young people
along with improvement of standards of reading and writing”, says

Back in Sussex, he radiates enthusiasm about creating similarly
imaginative models over here: “Extended schools go beyond what’s
being done at the moment and encapsulate a vision of working with
the whole child with a range of health and social care needs. You
support the family and begin to work in a profoundly different way
with them, across agencies, with proper professional

With the amalgamation of children’s social services and education
services into a new directorate called children, families and
schools, Goddard believes the council is structurally better able
to work in partnerships and on a multi-agency basis – an essential
ingredient if extended schools are to be successful. On top of this
it is implementing a family support strategy, which will involve
developing area-based family support teams that will link in with
school inclusion activities and extended schools.

Brighton and Hove Council was at the forefront of work around
extended schools after being picked as one of three pilot areas to
run demonstration projects between January and April 2002, funded
by the Department for Education and Skills. Five schools in the
area participated, including Bevendean primary school (see

Each of the five schools received £18,000 to be used at their
discretion, and additional money to evaluate the whole project. The
evaluation report by the University of Brighton in 2002 says:
“Improvements in attendance, motivation, behaviour, and achievement
were anecdotally reported, including pupil benefits of reduced
alienation, development of positive relationships with others and
development of interpersonal social skills.”

Following this, Brighton and Hove was one of 25 local education
authorities to be awarded pathfinder status. This brings in
£200,000 of new money to be spent on developing extended
school services in 17 schools, with an additional £25,000 to
develop child care projects.

Pathfinder money is being used for different purposes in different
schools. For example, at Whitehawk primary school, a community room
will be used for parent coffee mornings, workshops and talks,
family literacy, school nurse appointments, and child and
adolescent mental health services drop-ins, as well as by social
workers, a community paediatrician and a dental nurse among

Work is guided by the Schools Plus working group, which comprises
the five headteachers from the schools involved in the original
demonstration project. Goddard is clear that the leadership,
support and vision of the headteacher and governors are vital to
creating successful extended schools.

In several schools, part of the pathfinder involves having a
counsellor on site at certain times during the week. “Headteachers
told us that this would be of major importance for them,” says
Goddard. Some of the funding will be used to start up counselling
in a primary school in Portslade. Also as part of the pathfinder,
counselling for pupils is already being provided in Hove Park
secondary school and will be provided for parents at one primary

“Schools identified this as a huge need, because if we can help the
parents we can help the children too,” says Kim Crewe, counselling
co-ordinator for education settings at Hove Youth Advice Centre
(YAC), part of Hove YMCA. YAC is experienced in providing school
counselling and already works in seven secondary schools, 24
primary schools and two colleges in Brighton and Hove.

“Teachers are realising that the distress and worries that children
have interfere with their school work. They thought if they had
someone on site to help them through these stages, it would help
their attendance and attainment,” says Crewe.

“It doesn’t matter where they come from – every child has issues
they need to talk about. It may be that the need is greater in
deprived areas.”

Time with a counsellor gives children space to express their
feelings, and it’s not necessarily about problems at school. Most
problems lie at home, from not getting on with their parents to
worries about divorce and grief over bereavement, says Crewe.

Counsellors follow school child protection procedures, and if there
are any concerns they either speak to the child’s favourite teacher
or, where necessary, break confidentiality. This is explained to
both parent and child at the beginning.

Self-referral is encouraged in secondary schools, whereas primary
school children are more often referred by their teacher or parent.
All pupils must have parental consent to attend a session.

Crewe has seen little evidence of any stigma attached to seeing a
counsellor among schoolchildren, and puts it down to a sea change
in public perception. She believes that with the advent of primary
school counselling, it will become seen as even more

As all this and more can be provided in a school, why build another
building when you already have everything you need to provide
services to the community under one roof, asks Goddard.

“The pathfinder is part of an evolving, exciting area of social
policy,” he says enthusiastically. “There can be no better, lasting
regeneration than learning.”

No sleepy hollow for pathfinder

There is one road in and one road out of the Bevendean area of
Brighton. Built in the hollows of the South Downs, overlooked by
Brighton racecourse, this discrete community houses one church and
three shops – two owned by the same person. Unemployment is high,
facilities and transport services poor.  

It comes as a surprise, then, to walk into Bevendean primary
school and experience the hive of activity within. The first taste
of what is to come lies in the visitors’ book. On the last page
alone, signatures reveal there have been visits from staff at
American Express to read with pupils in their lunch-hour, a student
from Brighton University helping out, and work placements from
Sussex Police.  

The school is a shining example of extended schools pathfinder
money working hand-in-hand with a host of funding initiatives. A
new block, which still has the smell of new plaster in the air,
built with Sport England funding includes a disabled ramp and
toilet. The money also paid for a professional stage with lighting
and soundbox to be built in the school hall.  

Acting deputy head Joan Marshall says the school’s progress
happened because “we had this growing vision of the school being
part of the wider picture”. 

Bevendean has always been ahead of the game. Years ago it ran
family learning sessions, funded by the council, where parents and
children worked together. Then came adult education classes once a
week. These are still run, funded by the Learning Skills Council. A
breakfast club, funded first by the Education Action Zone and then
New Deal for Communities, is also up and running.  

 “Because we began to open our doors, more people asked if they
could use our facilities,” says Marshall.  

During the demonstration project the school proved its need for
a child care facility, and opened an after-school club. But when
funding ran out, Marshall persuaded a group of parents to form a
committee and apply for New Opportunities Funding. The after-school
club is now in operation.  

The result is a school that opens at 8am, does a normal day’s
work, and is then open in the evenings until 6pm for the community
and until 8.30pm one night a week. 

During the school day there are mother and toddler groups, and a
health visitor drop-in. These sessions are run in the adult
learning room and in the next-door play room – complete with soft
play area. They have their own entrance separated from the
classrooms by doors with security codes known only by the class or
group provider.  

Pathfinder money will be spent on a pre-school health visitor,
speech therapist and play worker. The money has already built a
specially designed mother and toddler toilet unit, and paid for a
pilot scheme, City Direct, to be set up with a computer in another
office. This will help Bevendean residents access up to 12 council
services, such as benefits and council tax. Two more schools also
have a City Direct computer.   

“All these things have to be done using additional money because
the school budget has to be for education,” says Marshall. “First
and foremost, the school is for the children.”

Building pride in community

Carlton Hill primary school is in the heart of Brighton. Goddard
describes its headteacher Phil Smith as a visionary in the
authority. It’s easy to see why. After 30 seconds in his office,
Smith leads us up to a second-floor room from where you can
literally see the community he wants the school to serve. Two
blocks of housing association flats and two blocks of council flats
to the right, and in front of the school,  Guinness Trust Housing
flats in the process of being built.  

Lack of pride in where they live has led to a culture of
mobility in the area, says Smith. But, as he points out the various
tower blocks, it’s clear that Smith himself is passionate about the
area: “I love it here; it’s like a little New York.” 

He is also full of energy for the challenge he has set himself –
building pride among the community. “There is a huge amount of
skills and vibrancy around; all you need is someone to unleash and
focus it, and I see the school as the centre of that,” he

“To do that, we need to offer all the different elements the
community needs, such as health and social care, parenting skills,
and opportunities for parents to access services that make their
lives better. I see the school as being able to offer that.” 

Currently, this second-floor room provides space to teach
English as a second language and computing to adults, and for a
creche. But now it has won its bid for £20,000 for the
extended schools pathfinder, the room will become a “nurture” room
for children, from those who have been bereaved to those who need
to learn social skills. 

Then an outside area will be converted into a community room,
again separated from the school by security-coded doors. It will
house drop-ins – the school already has drop-in sessions with an
education welfare officer, and Smith envisages these being extended
to include a school nurse and social worker.  

He acknowledges the school would have to work carefully around
breaking down negative perceptions of social workers. “A social
worker would be there to offer preventive advice to parents, not
policing or enforcing but helping. Being able to refer them on site
to the people who can help is what I see extended schools as being
all about.” 

Unexpectedly for such an urban area, the school has a field. At
the moment, pupils can’t use it because the fencing isn’t secure.
But £150,000 funding from somewhere would bring “endless
possibilities”, says Smith: “We could level it, turn it into a
stadium with seating in the bank. It would be managed by the
community after school hours.” 

Another plan lies in the potential of nearby Tarner Park. Here,
the Tarner Land Trust runs an after-school club; three-quarters of
its attendees are from Carlton Hill school, so, says Smith “why not
help run it?” He wants to help raise funds for a new building in
the park to replace the present dilapidated one, to provide an
after-school club and other “wraparound” care for families such as
a breakfast club.  

“Children will not learn unless they are happy, and they won’t
be happy unless their parents are happy, and they won’t be happy
unless their community is happy.” 

To make this happen, Smith paints an impressive picture of what
he wants the school to do as a part of the pathfinder project. And
for someone who has only been in post since last September, he has
big plans. So why is he so fervently behind extended schools?
“Because I want the kids to achieve, and I can’t see them achieving
unless the community is achieving.” 

As Goddard says: “If you do what you have always done, you get
what you have always got.”

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