ABSTRACT

The evidence we presented in the previous chapter suggested grounds for optimism about what full service and extended school approaches might achieve. That optimism is tempered, however, by the lack of any clear indication that schools working in this way can mount a credible attack on the deep-rooted problem of social disadvantage and its apparently intractable link to poor educational outcomes. It is weakened still further by the limitations of the available evidence base, and by the problematic issues that we have raised throughout this book. We saw in chapter four, for instance, how uncertain the place of full service and extended schools seems to be in many education systems – how they frequently appear as localized, occasional and time-limited initiatives, dependent on grants and project funding, and relying on partnerships with agencies and services over which they have no control. We saw, moreover, how many of their attempts at ‘boundary-crossing’ were hamstrung by lack of clarity as to what they were supposed to achieve, by an absence of effective policy support and, particularly, by inappropriate accountability processes. In the first two chapters, we saw how underlying this were views that changed over time, across school systems and between initiatives as to what full service and extended schools are for and how they are supposed to work. Here and in the case studies we presented in chapter three, we saw how, in the midst of this uncertainty, a ‘dominant rationale’ has emerged which views such schools as a means of supporting children, families and adults in disadvantaged circumstances. Yet, we also saw that this rationale is highly problematic, and that the focus on disadvantage runs the risk of stereotyping and further marginalizing the very people these schools claim to be trying to help.