Evaluation of the Full Service Extended Schools Project: End of First Year Report

At the end of their first year and still in the early stage of development, Full Service Extended Schools were already showing considerable promise as a way of offering beneficial services for children, families and communities, evidence from 2003-2004 suggests. However, at the same time, some of the schools involved appeared to be experiencing stresses and strains.

The aim of the FSES programme is to develop in every local authority area one or more schools that will provide on a single site a range of services, such as health services, adult learning, community activities, study support, and wraparound child care.

The recent evaluation of the programme, undertaken at the end of first year by a team from the universities of Manchester and Newcastle, points out that although all full service extended schools are similar, no two are identical.

With all 61 projects funded in the first year also in Behaviour Improvement Programmes areas, local authorities and schools saw the initiative as a chance to deal with some of the out-of-school difficulties faced by pupils. As a result, some schools were working well with other agencies to support vulnerable children and their families – although overall experiences of attempts to develop multi-agency working were mixed.

Many FSESs were keen to point out positive outcomes, although evidence to date is largely anecdotal. Nevertheless these schools displayed an optimism for the future and for the way in which they hoped to make a real difference to the people they serve.

Some concerns remained, however, about the overall coherence of government policy in relation to children and education and the short-term nature of the funding on which FSESs depend.

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