Rose, R., Smith, A. and Feng, Y. (2006) An investigation into the efficacy of two English extended secondary schools. Paper presented to: British Educational Research Association (BERA) National Conference, University of Warwick, Warwick, UK, 6-9 September 2006.
The provision of ‘extended schools’ in England forms one part of series of educational and social initiatives which aim to increase social inclusion through addressing concerns over negative indicators such as poor school attendance and exclusions. The Children’s Act (2004) and the "Every Child Matters Agenda" has been implemented as a response to perceived deficiencies in holistic approaches to child support services and follows inquiries into shortcomings across education, health and social services. The legislation places schools at the core of child protection and support services, with an intended increase in inter-agency collaboration and improved communication to ensure that all pupils receive appropriate access to essential services. Extended schools provide additional services, such as holiday clubs, family support workers and counselling services which are available to all pupils and their families and aim to address the needs of the most vulnerable. Across England, an increase in the provision of extended schools indicates a move towards increased inter-professional liaison with a declared intent of improving support for vulnerable young people. Few evaluations of the efficacy of such provision have, as yet, been completed. This paper reports on an investigation into the efficacy of two extended secondary schools in an English Local Authority. Using a combination of survey methods, observation and documentary analysis the researchers sought the opinions of teachers, pupils, parents and care agencies in assessing the impact of measures instigated to provide increased support and facilities for all pupils, and particularly those perceived to be at risk. The research was conducted over the period of one academic year and was undertaken by both ‘outsider’ researchers from the University of Northampton, and two teachers (one from each school) who were seconded to the project as ‘insider researchers’. School performance indicators were scrutinised to ascertain the influences of specific measures adopted under the extended schools actions and quantitative data was subjected to interrogation alongside the information obtained through interviews and observation. Case studies, which provide exemplars of the impact of the extended school process upon specific individuals were constructed and used to model further developments within the schools. The researchers report on those measures, which are regarded by service users as having had a positive impact upon school performance in respect of supporting pupils at risk. The paper provides case study materials alongside both qualitative and quantitative data, which indicates the effectiveness of the extended schools process in the two study schools. The research findings are being used to inform further developments within the two schools and also to assist the Local Authority as it seeks to increase its use of extended schools.