"Schools, families, communities - working together."
Extended schools have been established to build upon the good work developed by many schools and organisations, which have realised the need to engage with parents and their community, to enable children and young people to gain maximum benefit from their education. The activities developed will be diverse and appropriate for local contexts, and be underpinned by the knowledge that the parent is hugely influential in helping their child achieve; schools are resources which can be used by communities and become 'community hubs'; and that partnerships can provide a framework in which services and activities are delivered appropriately.
Extended schools have been funded from 2006-2008 through the Children and Young People's Funding Package which aims to reduce under achievement and improve the life chances of children and young people.
The Extended School is linked to the various initiatives that help to deliver this, particularly the 10 year strategy for children and young people in Northern Ireland as published by Children's Unit in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
The principles of the Extended School are drawn from the Children and Young People's Strategy of the Children's Unit within the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, and are outcome focused.
The activities therefore, that will be offered within Extended Schools, are based on these 5 high level outcomes for all children and young people, namely:
- Being Healthy
- Enjoying, Learning and Achieving
- Living in Safety and with Stability
- Experiencing Economic and Environmental Well-Being
- Contributing Positively to Community and Society
These in turn are built around a central outcome, namely "Living in a Society which respects their rights".
Schools will need to demonstrate that these outcomes are being met when devising action plans and implementing them.
Currently Extended schools are closely linked with Neighbourhood Renewal.
The criterion applied in the selection of Extended schools to be targeted through this programme means that many fall within or draw children from Neighbourhood Renewal areas.
Neighbourhood Renewal is the Government’s strategy to tackle the complex multi dimensional nature of deprivation and is being rolled out across the 35 most deprived urban areas in Northern Ireland, as measured using the Noble Index of multiple deprivation. Neighbourhood Partnerships, representative of key political, community, statutory, voluntary and private sectors have been established in 25 of the 35 Neighbourhood Renewal areas, and work is ongoing to establish partnerships in the remaining 10 areas. Details of all of these areas together with the appropriate contact details for the Department for Social Development, Development Office staff , who support Neighbourhood Partnerships, are available at the conclusion of this document.
Once established, Neighbourhood Partnerships will develop Vision Statements. These should say what the Partnership want their neighbourhood to look like at the end of the 7-10 year period and describe what sort of place the neighbourhood should be in the future. Action Plans identifying local needs and setting priorities against these will follow. These plans will represent the agreed programmes and actions to be delivered for a three year period by the range of statutory, private and community organisations in order to deliver against the vision.
The strategic aims of the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy are to:
- develop confident communities that are able and committed to improving the quality of life in their areas
- develop economic activity in the most deprived neighbourhoods and connect them to the wider economy
- improve social conditions for the people who live in the most deprived neighbourhoods through better co-ordinated public services and the creation of safer environments
- help create attractive, safe, sustainable environments in the most deprived neighbourhoods.
The expectation is that learning and other family support services offered through extended schools can have a positive impact on children’s and families achievements, motivation and self-esteem. The initiative will make a significant impact in areas of Neighbourhood Renewal where the school can be a major focal point for the community. As it is expected that improvements in educational attainment will be a key priority for Neighbourhoods, there is a clear link between the neighbourhood action plans and plans for Extended Schools and it is important that the development of neighbourhood action plans reflects the extended schools initiative where appropriate.
- Bernie Mooney - BELB
- Bridie Mullan - WELB
- Caroline Karayiannis - RTU
- Aidan Dolan - RTU
- David Porter - Health Promoting Schools
- Barry Britton - RTU