Headlines: October 31st, 2002

Twenty-five local councils are to act as pathfinders for government plans to develop extended schools for the community. The announcement has been welcomed by the Local Government Association.The proposals were announced at a conference organised jointly by the LGA and the Department for Education and Skills. Baroness Cathy Ashton, the parliamentary under secretary at the DES, launched guidance that would enable a range of pupil, family and community services to be delivered from the school site. The selected councils will help to develop the concept.

During the last year seven councils have been working with the LGA¬† spearheading work on one of the Association’s Six Commitments, Developing Schools for the Community. Those authorities – Newcastle, Warwickshire, Gateshead, Lincolnshire, Durham, Sefton and Tameside – are all included in the government’s list of pathfinders.

Councillor Hazel Harding, the Association’s lead member for the Developing Schools for the Community project said, ” The LGA has shown the benefits of extended schools to the local community and as such I am delighted that the government has announced that it will develop this initiative with our pioneering seven councils at the heart of this new project. ”

She said that the community leadership provided by local councils would be pivotal in ‘joining up’ local services and involving a diverse range of partners in this project. “This is an exciting concept which will genuinely place schools at the hub of our communities,” Councillor Harding added.

Baroness Ashton, said the plan would ensure schools were at the heart of the community. ” It will make services such as study support, before and after school, childcare, health and social care and adult learning more accessible and more relevant to parents and the community as a whole. The main purpose of a school must always be to provide high quality teaching and learning for our children and the extended schools programme can further enrich children’s learning and experience. ”

The DES will have funds to allow local councils to employ additional staff to work with schools to plan and set up community services