Charity begins after hours
Indeed, encouraging schools to make full use of the hours outside the normal timetable is the charity's raison d'etre and its National Awards for after-school activities, now in their third year, are the biggest yet.
After being set up by Lord Young of Dartington, Education Extra made Pounds 7,500 worth of awards to 22 schools in its first year to encourage and recognise their work. Three years later, the benefits have increased ten-fold. Some 170 schools will receive grants totalling Pounds 75,000, thanks to partnerships with sponsor companies including Acorn computers, Griffin and George (scientific equipment), Staedtler (art materials), and Boosey and Hawkes (musical instruments) as well as donations from educational trusts such as the Sir John Cass Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
Deputy director Mike Walton says they look for three elements in extra curricular projects - imaginative ideas and good practice and development potential.
"Our aim is to encourage and enable schools to offer after-school programmes which can extend and enrich the experience of young people above and beyond the national curriculum."
Education Extra began as a response to the perceived lack of information, help and advice on setting up after-school clubs and societies and in the belief that extra curricular activity can stimulate in-school learning and attract parental approval and support while bringing the school and its community closer together.
The Extra Network of schools, set up last year, now boasts 600 members, which each receive a termly newsletter Extra Time and Extra Specials - advice sheets giving tips on how to obtain funding including applications to the National Lottery, setting up environmental projects and arts schemes.
EE also undertakes research and development and advises on policy for central and local government and Training and Enterprise Councils.
The first national guidance document on extra curricular projects, Good Policy and Good Practice for the After School Hours, a round up of real examples from 200 schools, will be published by Pitmans later this year. A teachers' pack and video, emphasising the fun and fulfilment to be gained from after-school activities, will be available in the New Year.
Among this year's award winners are: * A pupil-designed keep fit "trim trail" at Ryan Middle School in Bradford.
* Karaoke equipment for Walton Hall School, Staffordshire.
* Materials for the construction of a hovercraft by children at Woolwich Polytechnic School, south east London.
* African dance and storytelling classes at Medway Community Primary School, Leicestershire.
* Darkroom equipment for Richard Cloudesley School, Islington, north London.
* Kit for the girls' rugby club at Tavistock College, Devon.
* Construction of a Japanese garden at Nicholas Hawksmoor Primary, Northants.
Contact Education Extra on 0181 981 6719.