Towards Extended Schools: A Literature Review

Towards Extended Schools

front cover

This DfES 2003 review of research and literature focuses on the development of extended schools within the UK, drawing also on international evidence. The remit was to portray the potential/actual impact of extended schooling on professional practice and pupil outcomes, as well as challenges to its development.

Whilst there is more than one model of extended schools, and they are known by many different names (e.g. ‘full-service’, ‘new community’), the underlying principle is presented as a holistic and multi-agency approach to meeting the educational, social, emotional and physical needs of young people within their communities. Partnership, integration and collaborative working of key workers demonstrate the reconceptualisation of service delivery. Although the ideas underpinning the approach can be traced back to earlier initiatives (e.g. community education), the research indicates a re-emerging concept for the new millennium, which is found to be evident in policies on health, social services and education from 1998 onwards.

The review found that the UK models appeared to be characterised by extensions or additions to the traditional remit of individual schools (e.g. breakfast and after-school clubs), and to be more educationally focussed than socio-economically driven. The research from the USA, where extended or full-service schools have seen significant development over the last twenty years, revealed the use of schools more as a site for integrated services to be delivered to the community. The latter would appear to be closer to the model envisaged in the Every Child Matters agenda in England, and enshrined in the Children Act 2004.

The report includes cameos of individual initiatives in the USA to illustrate the range and variety that exists, and a history of the New Community Schools programme in Scotland. Although the overriding message is that extended schooling represents an advancement on what had gone on before, and provides hope for the future, the review also presents the difficulties and challenges, as well as advice to practitioners, contained within the literature. The table included as Appendix 1, “Key factors/components of extended schools”, is particularly useful. This identifies, alongside the author, date and location of the study, a summary of information under the following headings: Common aims and vision, Governance, Administration, Funding, Publicity and dissemination, Community/parental involvement, School staff involvement and training, Appropriate location, Curriculum and out of hours learning, Multi-service issues, Assessment and Evaluation.

The authors point out that they found most of the literature on extended schools to be descriptive, rather than evaluative, and suggest a need for a more systematic, critical and rigorous approach which would contribute significantly to the literature. Nevertheless, the review provides a valuable insight to the background to many of the current Government initiatives, often traceable to the American experience. Although the formal response to the report into the death of Victoria Climbié, published alongside the Green Paper on Every Child Matters, is often cited as the catalyst for change, it is likely that this review, as well as the literature upon which it reports, was also highly influential in informing the Government agenda.

Reviewed by:
Sue Field