Towards the development of extended schools

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Anne Wilkin, Kay Kinder, Richard White, Mary Atkinson and Paul Doherty National Foundation for Educational Research, 2003


Background to the study

In recognition that schools in the UK - as in the USA - cannot solve the problems associated with social exclusion and multiple disadvantage on their own a study was carried out in 2002 for the Department for Education and Skills and the National Union of Teachers to investigate the extent of the 'extended school' model.

The research consisted of a literature review of existing research evidence and literature concerning 'extended' or 'full-service' schools along with an audit of schools currently offering extended services via telephone interviews with 50 primary, secondary and special schools, as well as staff from 78 LEAs, followed up with case studies in ten schools.

Types of provision

Six main types of extended schools provision were identified:

The audit revealed there was great variety amongst school in the range of activity and the degree of investment in them. Extended schools were said to impact positively on pupil attainment, attendance and behaviour as the school became seen as a source of community resource and support. While most people said the additional resources and staffing reduced the burden on teachers, some felt that workload could rise.

US and UK approaches

In the US literature, the extended school concept was seen as a grassroots movement as a local response to problems. This was sometimes large-scale, involving health and other agencies, sometimes smaller-scale offering additions to the traditional remit of schools. UK literature and previous research would suggest that models of extended schools here conformed more to the latter model, adopting an educational approach e.g. family literacy.

Management of extended schools

Management roles were investigated, including the role of the LEA which many school interviewees felt was important in terms of accessing funding. Expanding role and increased responsibilities were seen to have a major impact on school governors, and, as representatives of their communities, their support was said to be crucial. The most significant facilitating factors were the 'vision' of the headteacher, access to resources, commitment and joint working. Stumbling blocks were lack of resources, lack of space and low levels of community interest and involvement. Concerns still exist, at school level, about the extent to which schools can become fully 'extended'.


The study concludes that there has been a marked rise in the interest in extended schools but huge variation due to the number of traditions (and new funding streams) including community schooling, lifelong learning, community regeneration, reflecting energy and commitment at individual school level. This perhaps signifies, as in the US, more of a grassroots movement than the UK literature suggests.


The full report (reference RR408) and the shorter Research Brief (reference RB408) are available at or by telephoning 0845 60 222 60. For further information on this research email

For the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) visit

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