Extended schools

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 as well as their parents, families and local community. These include clubs, 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 extended schools programme provides financial support to eligible schools to help improve 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 allow 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 is targeted at schools which serve areas of the highest social disadvantage. In 2016-2017, over £10 million of extended schools funding has been made available enabling nearly 550 eligible schools to offer additional provision outside of the traditional school day (including evenings, weekends and holiday periods).

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 this funding, follow the link below to the Department of Education website. To find out what services are offered by schools in your area, check with the schools themselves or contact the Education Authority (EA) in your region.

What extra services are provided?

  • stimulating activities, skills classes and additional learning support 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


There are lots of different types of activities available, including:

  • breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and summer schemes
  • study support  
  • play and recreation  
  • sport and fitness classes  
  • drama  
  • music  
  • ICT, cookery and language lessons
  • arts, crafts and other special interest clubs  
  • volunteering, business and enterprise activities

Study support activities provide extra help to those children who may be falling behind their peers. Those who are doing particularly well can be offered more challenging work to stretch them further.

The activities provided by each school are designed according to the particular pupil, family and community needs that have been identified. 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. Check with your local school to see what’s on offer.

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. Dedicated funding is made available through the extended schools programme (£1.2m for 2016-2017) specifically to allow eligible schools to provide a range of parental and family support activities including:

  • 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 a range of external partners including health and social services to offer additional help to children and young people when they need it. This can include those with social, emotional or behavioural needs.

Extended schools  are encouraged to work in partnership with neighbouring schools and local voluntary or community agencies or groups, to provide a more integrated set of support services.  As a result, schools are able to more easily 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

All schools are encouraged 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 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.

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