Extended school hours plans 'should focus on deprived areas'

By Jess Brown

| 01 April 2016

The government should target funding to extend the school day to schools in deprived areas, a think-tank has said.

The government has said one in four schools will be able to stay open for extended hours. Picture: Department for Education

Under plans announced in last month's Budget, the government has said that one in four secondary schools will be given the chance to extend their school day from September 2017 in order to offer pupils a “wider range of activities". It will be funded with proceeds from the proposed tax on sugary drinks.

Ralph Scott, head of citizenship and political participation at think-tank Demos, told CYP Now that focusing the initiative on deprived areas would will help bridge the difference in extracurricular provision between disadvantaged pupils and their peers, and could in turn help reduce the attainment gap.

“We don’t know which schools are providing extracurricular activities at the moment. You want [the initiative] to be creating opportunities that aren’t already there,” Scott said.

“Research shows that those on free school meals have fewer opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities."

"One of the imperatives we would see is making sure those opportunities go to young people who don’t have them anyway – those schools who may be not able to offer opportunities get the funding. That would help to bridge this gap.”
    
Scott also said the government should ensure that the schools who receive the funding are properly monitored to ensure it is making improvements.

“For pupil premium, for example, all schools have to report on how they use that, [because it] could be used to fund other finance gaps," Scott said.

Youth organisation UK Youth said last month that the youth sector is best placed to deliver the additional activities.

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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