School targets ‘conflict’ with new community role

New research published to coincide with the announcement of more
than 60 extended schools has raised concerns about a conflict of
interests between schools’ targets and the new initiative,
writes Amy Taylor.

The research, for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said that
schools’ attempts to raise achievement levels and comply with
government policy on standards, make its development of a wider
community role “problematic”.

It calls for the standards agenda to be revised in ways that
take into account the schools’ new roles in order to ease the

Amendments would need to give schools greater choice over ways
to enhance children’s learning and life chances, and remove
unhelpful targets.

The research, which looks at a mixture of nine primary and
secondary schools serving two disadvantaged areas in the north of
England, also highlights the impact of headteachers’ varying
attitudes towards community involvement in schools.

While some 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 “distraction” to
their “core business” of raising individual attainments. One
headteacher said: “The school is a safe haven and provides an
alternative to the community.”

Margaret Hodge named the 61 extended schools, backed by
government funding, last week. They will provide a full range of
community services including childcare, health and social care and
family learning. She also announced 29 more Sure Start children’s

Ministers pledged last March that at least one school in every
local education authority would receive extended school funding by
2006. The 240 extended schools will receive funding of £52.2
million over a three-year period, although 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 the
recent funding problems experienced by schools must stop in order
to ensure their co-operation. 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.”

A list of the extended schools
Schools and Area Regeneration from 01235 465500

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.