New guidance on out-of-school-hours learning is not intended to be a blueprint, Philip Rycroft, head of the Scottish Executive schools group, said. But the guidance should help the spread of good practice.
More than 9 to 4 - Out-of-School-Hours Learning in Scottish Education, which was launched on Monday, should allow local needs to dictate developments, he told the annual conference of the Scottish Out-of-School-Hours Learning Network. But "rigorous self-evaluation" would still be expected.
Peter Peacock, Education Minister, in his introduction to the report, states: "Education in Scotland is about more than subjects alone. It encompasses the whole school experience, and will include the ethos and life of the school as a community, multi-disciplinary activities, and additional experiences."
Almost all secondary schools and more than three-quarters of primary schools currently provide out-of-hours learning in some form, backed by funding of pound;12 million each year.
The Executive's report cites research evidence that learning out of school can have a positive influence on attainment, motivation and self-esteem. It can re-engage disaffected pupils and improve attendance, as well as being targeted to close gaps in opportunity for vulnerable pupils or those in danger of not reaching their full potential.
Teachers are said to benefit from better pupil-teacher relationships and the opportunity to experiment with new methods and techniques which can be incorporated into teaching during the school day. There is evidence of opportunities for more collaborative and innovative work, and improved motivation.
For communities, it provides opportunities to develop partnerships and offers parents opportunities to becomes actively engaged with their children's learning and the community.
Local authorities are asked to give a clear strategic direction to schools if OSHL is to have maximum impact. Policy should be transparent and there should be opportunities for sharing good practice.