The Extended Schools Agenda in England
THE MORE TRADITIONAL forms of out-of-school child care in the United Kingdom have recently come under close scrutiny from the government in an effort to reduce unemployment by making affordable child care available to those who require it to enable them to return to employment or study to gain employment. Out-of-school child care has existed in the United Kingdom for many years, but in much less formal guises, with little or no legislation. It was run predominantly by the voluntary sector, men and women who were doing the job for the love of play. Many small and a few larger primary schools had some form of afterschool child care in place, and many had breakfast clubs a long time before the British government hit on the idea of the Extended Schools Agenda.
In June 2005 the British government launched the Extended Schools Agenda to complement and add value to the Every Child Matters Framework. Every Child Matters is the British approach to collect and align multiple efforts by organizations such as hospitals, schools, volunteer groups, and after-school programs for youth up to the age of nineteen to gain safe passage to adulthood. Funding — 840 million pounds — was put in place to support the program. The aim was that by 2008, 50 percent of approximately twenty-four thousand primary schools (serving children four to eleven years old) and one-third of all secondary schools would be able to offer at least some part of the extended schools program, and by 2010 every school can provide access to year-round extended services including learning, sports, and the arts. The agenda also aims to incorporate new partnerships that constitute family support incorporating the health service, social service, and private and voluntary sector.
The Extended Schools Agenda is designed to provide help, support, and opportunities for every family to maximize the potential of every child, especially in the most disadvantaged areas.
The Every Child Matters Framework has five core values:
• Be healthy.
• Stay safe.
• Enjoy and achieve.
• Make a positive contribution.
• Achieve economic well-being.
The Extended School Agenda itself has five core aims
that it must strive to fulfill:
• High-quality affordable child care
• A varied menu of activities
• Support for parents
• Access to swift and easy referral for a range of specialist support services
• Wider community access to school facilities
This does not all have to take place at each school; it can be at a community center, for example. Nevertheless, the school has the responsibility of directing parents and children to these services, so the youth programs must be able to identify what resources are available to families and how the resources can be accessed.
Ultimately the Extended Schools Agenda is about supporting parents and families in work and bringing economic well-being and advancement to disadvantaged communities. It is not just about the children and young people, but about the whole community and how to get access to a wide range of services into a place that is user friendly. It is not a new one. In order to capitalize on the spotlight that has been thrown on it and a considerable amount of money that is being invested in this agenda, local authorities have realized that involving the young people for whom this service is meant to be designed is imperative.
Mortlock, F. The Ideas and Rationale Behind the
Extended Schools Agenda in England.
New irections for Youth Development, Winter 2007, pp. 49-51