Unfinished business: where next for extended schools?
This report takes stock of the extent and success of extended schools by mapping the current provision and funding mechanisms, and comparing this with parental
demand for services. It also considers the role these services have in tackling disadvantage and poverty – through supporting children’s learning and development, and providing childcare to enable parents to work.
There is now good evidence that extended school services can improve children’s outcomes, including educational outcomes, social and emotional skills, welfare and wellbeing. The extra-curricular activities offered through extended school services help children to develop the social and emotional skills that can act as a vehicle for social mobility and improve life chances. They also enable parents to increase the number of hours they work, which dramatically reduces the risk of child poverty. For example, the poverty risk in a lone-parent household triples when a parent moves from working full time to not working.
The government must act to encourage schools to use their unique position within the community to extend their services, in order to support child development and help enable parents to work. This should include dedicated funding, and a clear vision of how schools could fulfil both these goals and how local authorities can support them. Without this, existing services risk withering on the vine, becoming increasingly reliant on parental contributions and therefore inaccessible to the most deprived children. There is a good model to follow – of extended schools acting as community hubs, involving community engagement with the school and providing opportunities for parents to improve their own skills and work readiness.