Schools struggling to provide extra-curricular activities for disadvantaged pupils should be more flexible and creative with budgets, the children's minister has said.
All schools are supposed to offer extended services to families by 2010, but some heads have found it hard to sustain projects that require parents to pay.
Beverley Hughes, the children's minister, told MPs this week that she was particularly keen for secondaries to offer more childcare and that schools in all sectors should consider taking money from other parts of their budget to pay for extended services.
Speaking at the Commons' children, schools and families committee, Ms Hughes said some schools needed more support in managing their total budgets to help children from disadvantaged families to take part in extended activities.
Ms Hughes told The TES that schools could get help from local councils and the Training and Development Agency for Schools. Heads should also be "looking at what flexibilities there are around their budgets to be creative with the funding they have got", she said.
Karen Dukes, head of Salhouse Primary near Norwich, had to lay off three support staff recently because of budget cuts, and has struggled to keep breakfast and homework clubs open.
"If the Government wants schools to provide extra services, they have got to provide the extra finance to do it with," she said.
Ms Hughes had also told the committee that secondaries were not providing enough of the childcare that parents of 11- to 14-year-olds needed.
She said that as well as encouraging schools to use their budgets better, the Government hoped to enable 50,000 children from needy backgrounds to take part in extended activities by directing extra funding to schools in disadvantaged areas.