Extended schools

The term ‘extended schools’ refers to services delivered by schools that go beyond the core function of the classroom education of children within the normal school day. The extended schools programme was a pillar of the Every Child Matters programme, launched in 2003. Since then, national policies have changed, but many schools continue to provide elements of extended schools, including: 

  • Support services for children delivered within school – eg, therapeutic services
  • Homework clubs/additional classes for disadvantaged children
  • Sporting and cultural enrichment activities
  • Before- and after-school childcare and holiday childcare/play provision
  • Support services for parents – e.g. adult education or parenting classes
  • Activities targeted at the wider community

Ring-fenced funding for extended schools in England ended in 2011, and funding these types of activities has become difficult for schools with increasingly tight budgets. CPAG continues to make the case to government for investment in extended schools at a national level, whilst also supporting schools and local government to develop this work locally where possible - see our Guide for Schools co-produced with the Greater London Authority for an example of work that is going on at a local level.

Benefits of extended schools

Extended schools programmes are proven to have benefits for children and families living in poverty.

Attainment. Extended schools programmes can engage pupils more positively with school and narrow the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers. For example, attending an after-school club benefits the attainment of disadvantaged children more than non-disadvantaged children, helping to close the gap between poorer children and their better-off peers.

Health and wellbeing. Play and physical activity are important for children’s health and wellbeing, and extended schools programmes can improve children’s access to sports and cultural facilities. Extended schools programmes also have an impact on children’s relationships. Research has found that children participating in extended schools activities get on better with their peers. Extended schools programmes can also improve pupil/teacher relationships and, in some cases, can improve children’s relationships with family members.

Benefits for parents/families. Extended schools programmes support parents in a number of ways. Breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and holiday clubs can provide convenient and often low-cost childcare for parents. This can support parents to work, which can provide a route out of poverty and prevent families falling into poverty. Research has also shown that extended schools programmes can positively engage parents with their child’s education and school more widely.

Benefits for the wider community. Extended schools programmes can have a positive impact on the schools’ relationship with the wider community. Establishing extended schools programmes often requires a school to build partnerships and relationships with community organisations in their local area, and research has shown that schools with extended schools programmes have better links with their local community.

Resources on extended schools

Briefing on extended schools provision - April 2021

Tackling child poverty: a guide for Schools (co-produced with the Greater London Authority)

Extended Schools  

Unfinished Business: where next for extended schools?