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Going extended is only way to improve

I write in response to Mick Brookes' assertion at the recent National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference that the Government's plans for all schools to become extended ones (opening from 8am to 6 pm and providing a range of community services) will damage the capacity of schools to fulfil their core purpose.

What has become clear to ContinYou's extended schools support service is that when learning outcomes are planned and monitored, extended services and activities enhance school improvement. We would say that unless extended services are developed, schools will not improve.

In order to reach the pupils of those parents who Mr Brookes describes as creating huge barriers to learning, schools need to take a different approach.

An extended school is not one in which the staff work harder, and for longer hours: it is one that recognises that it cannot work alone in delivering results for children and families.

By working closer with other agencies who work with families, and the voluntary and community sectors, schools can bring in people who have the expertise and can provide the support schools really need.

ContinYou has now worked with a number of heads who have found their workload, particularly in health, pastoral and social care, has reduced as a result.

Working in partnership requires a big shift in attitude. But extending services is not about doing extra things for the sake of it. It's about using fresh approaches, supported by other people in the local community, that enable heads and staff to achieve their priorities.

Providing more support for young people based around the school day is not a distraction from improvement, it is an important part of the strategy to enable every child to reach their potential.

Laurence Blackhall

Chief executive, ContinYou

17 Old Ford Road, London

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