In June 2005 the DfES published Extended Schools: Access to Opportunities and Services for All – A Prospectus (Ref.1408-2005DOC-EN). The document outlines a vision of a wide range of activities that all children should have access to beyond the school day, and details how this vision will come to fruition by 2010, with reference to a timetable and funding arrangements.
The initiative is also supported by a website that provides advice on issues such as the law, insurance, and health and safety.
As the National Remodelling Team works with schools on these issues, the website will be updated to include further information on key issues such as leadership and governance in relation to extended services:
schools. Additionally, the Children’s Workforce Strategy, available at www.everychildmatters.gov.uk, publications looks at how these plans fit with the wider strategy for the children’s workforce to help all who work with children to come together in better ways.
What is an extended school? ‘Extended school’ is not a status for which schools centrally apply and there is no blueprint for the types of activities that schools might offer. Schools may choose to provide a range of services and activities, often beyond the school day, to help meet the needs of children, their families and the wider community. At the heart of the proposed programme is the expectation that mainstream secondary and primary schools and special schools will provide a core offer of services focusing on: – high quality ‘wraparound’ childcare (available 8am-6pm) – a varied menu of activities – parenting support programmes
– swift and easy referral to specialist support services (eg speech and language therapy).
There is no expectation that teachers (e.g. SENCOs) will deliver the services outlined above, nor is it necessary for headteachers to be responsible for their management, although it may be appropriate for someone to undertake a coordination role. Extended schools are not about extended hours for teachers and headteachers. Rather, it is intended that workforce remodelling will provide schools with the skills to create a staffing structure appropriate to the extended services they wish to offer.
Children with disabilities or special educational needs
A key feature of the core services to be provided by extended schools is that they must be accessible to children with disabilities or special educational needs. Clearly, this will ensure that new provision and practice operates in accordance with current legislation (Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, 2001). However, the Extended Schools prospectus provides no guidance on how such compliance will be achieved, and it seems likely that ensuring that core services are accessible to all, and not be either disadvantaging or discriminatory, will be a major challenge for everyone involved.
1. Copies of the full document can be obtained from DfES Publications, Tel. 0845 60 222 60 or downloaded from the following website: www.teachernet.gov.uk/extendedschools