Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

What will the future hold for extended schools?

As members turn their attention to leadership and management of extended schools, the Public and Parliamentary Committee felt it was time at the December Council to look at this issue and offer ASCL's views to the DfES.

There is now a clear expectation from the DfES that all children have access to extended learning opportunities, easy referral to specialist support services and child care from 8am to 6pm all year round. The target date for this to be fully operational is 2010.

Many ASCL members will already be providing a number of out-of-school opportunities. The committee felt strongly that this natural development and extension should be the basis for an extended school and that the DfES should not impose one model across the country.

Something which is home grown and meets the needs of the community is more sustainable in the long term than an imposed structure. It could also be that collaborative agreements between schools deliver the government's expectations.

After discussing various models of extended schools, the following points were agreed by the committee:

  • There is concern over legal issues, for example contracts with outside providers, health and safety issues and child protection issues.

  • Duty of care is also a grey area. Some children using the school may not attend as pupils. As well, it is not clear who would have duty of care when the leadership team is not present.

  • Anecdotal evidence so far suggests that schools which are successful in providing extended opportunities are led and managed by a head with the local authority sometimes used as a commissioning agent.

  • Extended schools are likely to need more staff to provide services and a larger leadership team, possibly with more non-teachers to run the extra commitments. There will be issues of training, recruitment and retention.

  • Funding will be very important. For example the delegated budget cannot be used for extended school activities and short-term pump priming will not help schools to sustain a service unless it becomes self-financing. Schools will need to be cautious about what they commit themselves to financially.

  • Pay and conditions of senior staff will need to be reviewed in the light of possible extra responsibilities and the implications of legal issues, such as duty of care or being on call. Will senior leaders need or want different contracts?

  • Greater use of private companies or volunteer organisations may be necessary to deliver what the government requires. The independent school sector has a wealth of experience in this area which should be explored.

These concerns and questions have been shared with the DfES. The Public and Parliamentary Committee believes that this initiative is still at a stage where we can help to shape the leadership and management issues but there is an element of crystal ball gazing.

We have heard also of a National Remodelling Team model of leading and managing an extended school but we have no further information. If anyone is involved in using this pilot model and can share the experience, please contact me at jane@hindleychs.wigan.sch.uk

The committee will keep extended schools as a major part of its remit this year and share developments with members as they happen. Check the weekly e-newsletter for links to more information.

Jane Lees, Public and Parliamentary Committee chair

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