A report by Ofsted is largely enthusiastic about the success of a selection of full service extended schools.

After visiting 17 of the schools, inspectors reported finding significant improvements in the motivation and attendance of pupils and enthusiasm from parents for the extended services on offer. The leadership and vision of headteachers is singled out as crucial to the effectiveness of the schools. But the report warns that the workload of some headteachers is excessive and that the success of some schools relies too heavily on one individual. It suggests that the heads of newly designated extended schools will need to guard against this by delegating more and doing so earlier rather than later.

Ofsted found that half the schools had established working groups to carry out their planning, review and evaluation. In the best practice, these groups include the coordinator, the headteacher, a governor and representatives from partner schools, agencies (such as social care) and the local community. The group has clearly defined terms of reference and is supported by smaller sub-committees which take responsibility for the different strands of activity.

The report concludes that: ‘FSES provision brings many positive benefits to schools, their newly established partner organisations and ultimately for children, families and the community. Teachers and headteachers find it easier to engage with other agencies and they, in turn, find it quicker and easier to work with the school and with families in need of their support. Intervention is more timely and better targeted.’

It adds: ‘Although it is too early to see wide scale and dramatic improvements from extended schools, there are signs they are having a positive impact. Working together brings significant benefits, provides greater efficiency and is well worth the extra cost, which is often only modest.’

Extended schools: a report on early developments can be downloaded from www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications.

Key findings

– Inspirational and committed leadership from headteachers and good management have been crucial to the development of Full Service Extended Schools (FSES). – Well targeted interventions are improving behaviour, motivation and attendance for some identified pupils, but it is not possible to attribute these improvements to FSES alone. – Pupils are motivated by the additional activities in school and this can improve their learning. – Uncertainty about future funding is a concern for all schools. – Parents are very enthusiastic about the benefits of FSES and the provision has been transformational for some. In particular, they have benefited from access to relevant courses and to support services based in schools. – FSES enable multi-agency teams to deliver services directly from the school and this improves access for children, families and the community. – The impact of FSES is greatest where LEAs provide early support for schools in planning and developing provision.

– Services work well together to support children when they collaborate on agreed protocols for working practices.