Extended schools are a relatively new idea. These schools offer access to a range of services between 8am and 6pm for 48 weeks a year. Although community services may be part of the package on offer, the most commonly provided services are for children and young people.
According to a survey of pupils and parents by the Department for Children, Schools and Families earlier this year, 94 per cent offer activities andor childcare through their school. The majority of these (91 per cent) take place after school and two-thirds do so before school, with just over half having provisions during school holidays.
Some 53 per cent of parents surveyed said their children used after-school activities in the past term, whereas only 16 per cent had used before-school activities, although 20 per cent of these parents reported their children using the before-school facility five days a week compared with 74 per cent whose children participated in after-school activities only once or twice a week. Only 6 per cent of parents said their child had attended an activity during school holidays.
It's a positive picture, but the worrying fact is that the pupils least likely to be using the facilities provided by extended schools are those from more deprived groups, those attending special schools and those whose parents are dissatisfied with the school. If these are the very groups that some of the activities are designed to reach, this is an area of concern. The activities relating to having fun and socialising are the key appeals of out-of-school activities and it may be that what is on offer doesn't always attract the missing groups.
John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.