Extended schools provide for a range of services or activities outside of the normal school day to help meet the needs of nursery, primary, secondary and special school children, their parents, families and local community. These include activities, classes and support for learning.
What is an extended school?
There is no single model of an extended school but extended services are designed primarily to raise standards of achievement and allow children to realise their full potential in an environment where education is valued.
The Department of Education’s (DE) Extended Schools programme provides additional financial support to eligible schools and is targeted at reducing differentials and improving the life chances of children and young people particularly from deprived areas.
The services offered by extended schools can help you as parents to balance work and family commitments, develop your parenting skills, become involved in your child’s learning and support them in their efforts, and give them a broader range of experiences and interests.
They also enable you and the wider community to make use of the school’s facilities. For example, you could learn more about information and communications technology (ICT) or improve your writing or maths skills.
Some schools may also offer services to the local community, such as information about healthy eating and nutrition or advice on managing finances amongst many others.
Do all schools provide extended services?
The Extended Schools programme provides additional financial support to schools operating in areas of the highest social disadvantage. In 2012/13, around £11 million of extended schools funding was made available to over 460 eligible schools to provide for a range of activities to help meet the needs of the pupils in the school and the wider community.
Most other schools not participating in the programme, however, do offer some form of extended services through a combination of voluntary effort, parental contributions and alternative sources of external funding.
For more information on the Extended Schools programme and to see what schools qualify for extended schools funding, follow the link below to the DE website. To find out what services are offered by schools in your area, check with the schools themselves or contact your local education and library board.
- Extended Schools Programme - Department of Education website
- Education and Library Boards (contacts section)
What extra services are provided?
- stimulating activities and learning for your child
- parenting and family support
- better access to a range of specialist support services
- increased community access to school facilities
- local adult learning and career development opportunities.
Most schools, including both participating extended schools and others not involved in the programme, provide extended services outside of the traditional school day and often during holiday periods.
There are lots of different types of activities available, such as breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, sports, music, arts, drama, ICT, summer schemes, GCSE booster classes and much more.
The activities provided by each school are dependant on the particular pupil, family and community needs that have been identified. Check with your local school to see what’s on offer.
Ensuring School Standards
All schools in general are inspected by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) to ensure that it meets specific standards of quality and are encouraged to improve the quality of care and education it provides where appropriate. In addition, ETI also reports in specific relation to the quality of extended school provision.
Extended schools provide a varied range of activities for your child, including:
- study support
- play and recreation
- fitness classes
- arts, crafts and other special interest clubs
- volunteering, business and enterprise activities
Study support activities provide extra help to those children who may falling behind their peers. Those who are doing particularly well can be offered more challenging work to stretch them further.
Children will be able to pursue special interests or try out new things - anything from chess clubs to cookery lessons to extra language classes or breakfast club activities.
These services will mostly be provided around the core school day either at school, at a nearby school, or facility under the supervision of dedicated staff.
Parenting and family support
All schools are encouraged to provide you with access to various kinds of support and to involve you in your child’s learning. Many schools now offer:
- parenting skills programmes
- opportunities for family learning
- child behaviour management courses
- information sessions for parents when their children start primary school and when they move to secondary school
- information about nationally and locally available sources of advice and support for parents and families
Better access to a range of specialist support services
Many schools now work closely with health, housing and social services to offer additional help to children and young people when they need it. This can include those with behavioural, emotional or health needs.
Extended schools especially, are encouraged to work in partnership with neighbouring schools, local statutory, voluntary or community agencies or groups, to provide a more integrated set of support services and as a result schools are able to identify who needs help and organise it as quickly as possible.
Closer links between organisations mean that children needing continuing support throughout their school careers can receive it.
Increased Community Access
DE encourages all schools to make their facilities available for use by the wider community. Most schools already do so but initiatives such as the Extended Schools programme have lead to increased local community access to school resources outside of the normal school day.
These can include sporting, educational or recreational facilities such as:
- sports halls and pitches
- gyms and fitness studios
- computer suites
- arts and music facilities
They can also offer spaces such as school halls and classrooms for further education or use by local community groups, vocational classes and adult learning programmes.
Local adult learning and career development opportunities
The extended services provided by schools in your local area, including courses of educational or vocational study and opportunities for family learning with your child, can allow you the chance to improve or develop your own skills which can lead to enhanced career opportunities.
How do you find out more?
To find out what’s on offer in your area, contact your local school or education and library board. You can also find out more about the Extended Schools programme and a list of participating schools by following the link below.