Extended schools’ community role may conflict with education targets

New research coinciding with the announcement of 61 extended
schools in England has indicated that a conflict of interest exists
between school achievement targets and the new initiative.

Minister of state for children Margaret Hodge named the 61 extended
schools, backed by government funding, last week. They will provide
a full range of community services including child care, health and
social care and family learning.

But new research carried out for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation,
says that schools’ attempts to raise achievement levels and comply
with government policy on standards makes development of a wider
community role “problematic”.

It calls for the standards agenda to be rethought in ways that take
into account schools’ extended roles in order to ease the tension.

Schools would need to be given greater choice on how to enhance
children’s learning and life chances, and have unhelpful targets

The research, which looks at nine primary and secondary schools in
two disadvantaged areas in northern England, also highlights the
impact of head teachers’ attitudes towards community involvement in

While some head teachers thought pupils would only fulfil their
potential if families and communities were engaged in supporting
their education and raising their aspirations, others saw it as a
“distraction” to their “core business” of raising individual

Ministers pledged last March that at least one school in every
local education authority would receive extended school funding by
2006. The final total of 240 extended schools will receive funding
of £52.2m over a three-year period. The money has initially
gone to the most disadvantaged areas.

However, the corporate director of education and culture at Telford
and Wrekin Council, Christine Davies, has warned that in order to
ensure schools’ co-operation the recent funding problems must stop.

Speaking at a conference about children’s trusts last week, Davies
said: “Unless schools get some certainty about funding they might
be tempted to walk away from the extended schools agenda.”

Schools and Area Regeneration from 01235 465500 and see
www.dfes.gov.uk for extended
schools list.

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