Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Schools to raid piggy-banks

So keen is the government to make good on its manifesto pledge of extended schools that its new guidance tells schools to dip into their core budgets to fund them, if necessary.
But head teachers voiced alarm over the latest developments. John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "We support the agenda but if schools are expected to put more resources in, and it seems as though they are, they must get the money from the Government. Otherwise it's going to affect the budget for teachers' salaries, books, computers and so on."

The new guidance on planning and funding for extended schools also sets out which ctivities can and cannot be charged for. It states that schools may not charge for an activity that is part of the national curriculum or that leads to examinations, but that they may charge for additional sport, drama, music, clubs and courses such as first aid. It does not set out a minimum or maximum charge.
We seem to remember that the extended schools idea was sold on the basis that disadvantaged children would have the same opportunities enjoyed by the better-off, and that Ruth Kelly said:
"Extended schools will provide more chances for pupils to take courses and engage in activities that match their strengths and interests."
Well, only if you can afford it, it seems.

The emphasis seems now to be shifting firmly towards 'learning support' and bringing services together on the school site in order to remediate 'disaffected' pupils. In other words, yet another hydroponic lettuce* initiative.

*In case you're wondering: hydroponic lettuces are mass-produced indoors, without soil, in a stream of water. Computerised systems control the environment by monitoring things like temperature and nutrient levels, making adjustments as necessary.

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