Every authority to have at least one community access school

14th March 2003 at 00:00
AT least one school in every English education authority will provide a full range of community services by 2006, the Government announced yesterday.

The 240 "extended" schools will provide childcare, health and social care, lifelong and family learning, parenting and study support, sports, arts and computer access.

Disadvantaged areas will be the first to benefit from the three-year pound;52.5 million scheme.

Cathy Ashton, junior education minister, told the Kids Club Network Conference in London: "Extended services help improve children's motivation, behaviour and achievements. They remove barriers to learning and help teachers to focus on their core job of teaching."

In Wales, Jane Davidson, Welsh Assembly education minister, has opened the country's first integrated childcare centres.

Different services for children have been brought under one roof in Flintshire and Conwy, north Wales. The two centres boast a pre-school playgroup, nursery, after-school club for older primary pupils, and a toy-lending library. Another nine centres costing pound;3.2m have been approved.

England already has 89 early excellence centres, providing similar facilities. The Welsh centres will implement the Assembly's new foundation phase, launched last month, which focuses on informal learning through well-structured play. Supporters hope they will respond to local needs, for example those of Wales' many rural and isolated communities.

"These centres will give children the chance to build their confidence and communication skills. They are key to our proposal for the foundation phase," Ms Davidson said.

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