What the resource is:
This 30 minute Teachers TV
programme is a case study of George Green Secondary School, an inner city secondary school in the East End of London. It gives a clear and focussed example of how the extended schools programme, promoted through the Every Child Matters agenda, is realised in this school.
The resource takes a diary approach following the course of a day in this school from the breakfast club at 7.30am to local business football league, finishing at 10.00pm. At each stage a consistent approach is taken: video sequence of activity, and interviews with the relevant professional(s) and the participants in the activities. There is a commentary throughout which furnishes the viewer with additional information.
The aims of the resource:
The professionals interviewed range from the headteacher to the senior support supervisor, from an on site social worker to an on-site policeman.
The aim is to show a model of inclusive and collaborative multi-agency working offered in this school. The headteacher emphasises the importance of valuing the members of the community and giving ownership to that community. She cites the example of the consideration of the previous ‘dinner ladies', where members of the community were employed to supervise meal times but whose role extended well beyond this into conflict resolution, pupil and staff support etc. The role was therefore enhanced to recognise these parts of the job and re-labelled ‘support adviser'.
The importance of strong leadership and the necessity for distribution of responsibility are emphasised by the headteacher. The video also focuses on links with the wider community including local primary schools and the local city farm, Mudchute, where pupils are given valuable experiences. The headteacher emphasises that they are "Valuing what
[the pupils] achieve even if it is not 5 A* - Cs"
. There is also a brief exploration of how some of the activities are funded through an entrepreneurial approach, aiming to show that the school has a pro-active ethos to finding ways to do things rather than a passive approach.
Key findings or focus:
The key message here is that the concept of extended schools, building on the already extant idea of the community school, has grown and developed in recent years building on good practice, through the Every Child Matters agenda. All extended schools aim to be inclusive of all children and the community in general. The headteacher makes the point that the services are tailored to the needs of the pupils and the community. It is, she says, "a mistake to be ticking off what is extended and what is not". The emphasis therefore is placed on ‘extended schools' as an ethos rather than a building. The focus of the programme is a very positive one, promoting the message that extended schools are a valuable part of the community at large and by implication, the lives of the pupils at the school. The idea that the school can enhance mutual learning throughout the school and wider community is presented here. Schools should no longer be seen as "islands", but an integral part of the community. Primary schools are also shown as being part of this community, and further funding has been acquired through the local Education Action Zone (EAZ) to support this vital aspect of the extended school's work.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource:
The programme as a whole gives some very sound information, even though the importance of pupils' voice is not really emphasised enough. Research by McIntyre, Pedder and Ruddock (2005) emphasises the importance of pupil voice in learning - by extension, this becomes crucially important for the ethos of and work within any school community. Interviews with pupils in this video are of limited value, being restricted to ‘sound bites' and recordings of reactions taken in the playground and dining hall. Whilst they suggest a positive view of the school, this would have been strengthened with some more in-depth interviews along the lines of those included with workers in the school. Likewise, there are no real in-depth interviews with parents or other service users, with the exception of the members of the local business football league. It would have been useful to have stated that this is one way in which extended schools can operate. There are other models which draw more on surrounding community and agency resources rather than housing the majority of these on one site.
The positive impact of the extended schools programme on pupil attainment is not discussed to any great extent - the emphasis being on pupil experience and community involvement. Trainees should, however, be made aware of the findings presented in Kendall et al (2007), that: "...delivering ECM goals would ultimately impact on standards of attainment".
That said, the quality of the information and presentation of this as a resource is good.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
This will be a valuable resource for ITE tutors. It is quite a long video and would be better broken into shorter ‘chunks' for further discussion, perhaps concentrating on a general introduction to extended schools, the importance of multi agency working, Every Child Matters etc. Used in this way it should promote interesting and lively discussions. The programme will help all to understand how extended schools can work in an inner city context, but it will also promote debate on how the principle of extended schools can be applied in a much wider variety of schools.
The relevance to ITE students:
The relevance to ITE students is without question. This resource gives necessary information about an important aspect of their work in schools related to the pupil experience - Every Child Matters - including the essential and still developing process of multi-agency working and the inclusion of the whole community in the life of the school (and vice versa). Every Child Matters has a priority within ITE and CPD that is crucial to the training and professional development of all teachers. This resource will help trainees understand how schools can interact with, become an integral part of and enhance the community. It raises important questions related to how this can be implemented, why it is a positive development, and overall impact in the community.
Peter R. Kay
The following might be useful to read in conjunction with this resource:
Kendall, S., Lamont ,E., Wilkin A., and Kinder, K., (2007) Every Child Matters: How School Leaders in Extended Schools Respond to Local Needs Nottingham: National College for School Leadership.
McIntyre, D. , Pedder, D. & Rudduck, J. (2005) Pupil voice: comfortable and uncomfortable learnings for teachers University of Cambridge: Research Papers in Education, 20 (2) pp. 149-168.