There is “every reason” to plough ahead with the extended schools agenda, schools up and down the country were told this week.
Key findings from the second year of the national evaluation of the full services extended schools programme amount to a ringing endorsement of the government’s goal to have at least one school in every local authority area providing a comprehensive range of services on a single site, including access to health services, adult learning and community activity, learning support, and wrap around child care.
The latest report, by the universities of Newcastle and Manchester, reveals that full service extended schools can have “significant positive effects on children, adults and families”, as well as benefiting schools in terms of student attainment levels and exclusion rates.
“On the basis of the evidence so far available, there is every reason to persevere with the implementation and development of extended provision,” the report states.
Welcoming the report’s endorsement of the government’s approach, children’s minister Beverley Hughes revealed that 3,000 schools now offered access to extended services.
“I am pleased that we have exceeded the milestone of 2,500 extended schools by this month, thanks to the enthusiasm and hard work of schools and their partners throughout children’s services and voluntary organisations.
“I recognise that there are challenges, but the extended schools which I have visited make it clear that creativity and determination can overcome them.”
Challenges highlighted in the report include tensions between extended schools’ long-term approaches and the more immediate demands of the attainment agenda, difficulties engaging key partners in some areas, and problems engaging the most vulnerable and marginalised members of the community.