Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Getting the measure of extended schools

Minister Beverly Hughes addressed delegates at ACSL's popular extended schools conference, run jointly with the National Governor's Association on 15 June.

Sue Kirkham kicked off the day by outlining the concerns that ASCL members have voiced, mostly to do with implementation and sustainability.

At the top of the list was funding. ASCL is sceptical of the government's pledged ?680 million for extended schools which actually includes money that is already in the school standards grant.

While members accept that schools will have to charge for some extended activities, explaining a complex fee structure to parents and staff - and retaining the goodwill of staff who have traditionally not been paid for running activities - will have its own complications.

Like any start-up business, activities such as a nursery could very well incur losses early on. Some ASCL members in this situation have had to cover debt with the school budget.

In terms of management and leadership, ASCL finds it very hard to believe that there will be no extra workload for the senior leadership team, as DfES guidance has indicated. This will need to be managed extremely carefully, with proper support mechanisms.

Bringing multiple agencies on site will have its own challenges, not the least ensuring that the ethos and values are upheld. Schools and colleges will need to be clear about expectations such as appropriate staff dress and how students address staff.

The four conference workshop sessions gave practical perspectives on how schools and colleges are addressing these issues. While each situation is unique, there were some consistent messages.

  • Don't try to cover extended activities through the school budget - invest time in business links and getting grants as a source of funding.

  • Building relationships with external agencies is invaluable - they can provide funds and on-site support, and you are helping them meet their own targets.

  • Making time to establish a vision of where the institution wants to be is important for getting everyone on board and making the best use of funds.

Extended provision and how it relates to the Every Child Matters agenda will be a huge issue for schools and colleges in the next few years. However, as Sue Kirkham stated, for schools and colleges, educating young people should always come first.

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