The government’s campaign to persuade more schools to offer extended services continues with the publication of new guidance.
Planning and funding extended schools, follows on from the prospectus, Access to services and opportunities for all, issued in June last year.
The new government guidance relies heavily on case studies to enthuse schools and offer practical suggestions for the introduction of their own extended provision. The publication also outlines the funding available to schools and local authorities to support the development of extended services. Financial management is considered further in an annex, with detailed guidance on situations in which schools can and cannot use their delegated budgets to support or subsidise extended activities and the accounting procedures that must be used in each case.
Further advice on setting up extended services comes from a report by Ofsted, based on a survey of 20 education settings in 16 local authorities between April 2005 and March 2006.
The report found that the major benefits of extended services were the gains children, young people and adults made in their self-confidence and the development of more positive attitudes to learning and to what they might achieve. But it also found that the possible impact of services on standards and achievement was not always monitored.
As well as identifying the characteristics of successful extended schools, Ofsted also looked at the sustainability of the services, both in terms of maintaining interest in what was being offered and of keeping up adequate funding.
Planning and funding extended schools: a guide for schools, local authorities and their partner organisations and Extended services in schools and children’s centres can both be downloaded from www.teachernet.gov.uk/extendedschools
Key findings of Ofsted survey of extended services
- The major benefits to children, young people and adults were enhanced self-confidence, improved relationships, raised aspirations and better attitudes to learning.
- Strongly committed leaders and managers were key factors in successful provision. They had a clear understanding of the features of extended provision and how it would work in their contexts. They involved the whole senior management team as extended services were considered integral to improving outcomes for children.
- Services were most effective when there was a plan which considered standards, value for money, affordability and the long-term sustainability of the services.
- The most successful providers shaped the provision gradually to reflect their community’s needs and wants in collaboration with other agencies. They gave sufficient time to gather information on local requirements before setting up any provision. There was no single blueprint for success. Regular consultation by services was vital. Successful services fulfilled the community’s needs, were of high quality and maintained interest.
- Short-term funding made it difficult for services to plan strategically. This influenced significantly which services were provided and the extent to which they could be sustained.
- Agencies worked together most effectively when there was a lead coordinator in the setting and agreed protocols for working practices.
- The role of local authorities was important in establishing effective, well-coordinated plans and support structures. Authorities used effective settings and agencies fully to disseminate good practice.
- The strongly inclusive approach seen in most of the settings visited enabled a wide range of age groups to access services. However, there was a lack of continuity in services and interventions once children moved from children’s centres on to school.
- The impact of services on pupils’ standards and achievement was recognised by all providers, but rarely monitored.
Extended services in schools and children’s centres (Ofsted, HMI 2609)
Checklist for schools planning to offer extended activities
1. Read the guidance and the DfES Know-how series on TeacherNet. 2. Contact the local authority’s extended schools remodelling adviser (ESRA). 3. Review existing local provision, with the help of the ESRA. 4. Consider any particular local challenges, such as rurality, which might require special transport or other arrangements. 5. Look at good practice examples from other schools and communities. 6. Consult with the school’s governing body on the best way forward. 7. Consult with school staff, their professional associations and unions, and any existing collaborative partners. 8. Decide how to consult effectively with children and young people, their families and the wider community. 9. Set up ongoing consultation on the extended opportunities needed by pupils, families and the local community, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. 10. Identify the skills and resources available to help in the local community and amongst local partner providers, and build partnerships with them. 11. Work with all parents and other stakeholders to identify affordable charges which will help to make extended opportunities sustainable. 12. Define (through the governing body) when and how remission from charging arrangements should come into force. 13. Consider how the staffing of the extended school will be consistent with workforce reform.
14. Incorporate the provision of extended opportunities and support into the School Improvement Plan.
Planning and funding extended schools: a guide for schools, local authorities and their partner organisations (DfES, 0472-2006DOC-EN)