Extended schools can cut staff workloads

I write in response to Mick Brookes’ assertion at the National Association of Head Teachers annual conference that the government plans for all schools to provide extended 8-6 provision will damage the capacity of schools to fulfil their core purpose.
What has become clear to ContinYou’s Extended Schools Support Service (TESSS) is that when the learning outcomes are planned and monitored, the provision of extended services and activities can and does enhance existing school improvement plans and targets. In fact, we would go further than this and say that unless extended services are developed, schools can continue working harder and harder on their core purpose, but they will not be able to continue improving indefinitely. In order to reach the pupils of those parents who Mick Brookes’ describes as creating huge barriers to learning, schools need to take a different approach.
An extended school is not one in which all the staff work harder, and for longer hours, than a traditional school. An extended school is one that recognises that it cannot work alone in delivering outcomes for children and families and it therefore chooses to work in partnerships.
It takes time to build effective partnerships. But by working closer with other agencies who are delivering outcomes for families, and by involving the voluntary and community sectors, schools can bring in a range of people who have the kind of expertise and support that schools really need. And ContinYou has now worked with a number of headteachers who have actually found that their workload, particularly in relation to health, pastoral matters and social care, is reduced as a result.
It’s true that working in partnership does require a big shift in behaviour and attitude. But extending services is not about having to do extra things for the sake of it. It’s about how a range of fresh approaches, supported by other people working in the local community, in social services, health, etc, enable headteachers and school staff to achieve their priorities for the school. And of course, the priorities are not just about exam results. Like it or not, they are also about behaviour, attendance, punctuality, exclusions, and a whole raft of issues for which so-called ‘8 –6’ provision can make a real difference.
So providing additional support for children and young people based around the school day is not a distraction from school improvement, it’s an important part of the strategy to enable every child to reach their potential.
Laurence Blackhall, Chief Executive, ContinYou

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