It was great to see Sir Cyril Taylor arguing last week for the extended schools programme to go beyond longer hours and services provided in schools. His comments are welcome, because it is all too easy to see extended schools as a glorified child care operation, and it could be so much more.
Schools are uniquely placed to become real hubs of the community. They could be providing young people with learning experiences that are not wholly divorced from the real world, and act as generators of social capital for young people and adults alike.
Many schools are currently structured around the need to put young people somewhere out of harm’s way for the bulk of the working day. They are not designed to produce young people that are part of a community, that know how to make connections with people outside of school, that are capable of taking action to make their areas better, or that hit the ground running when they leave school and are expected to be adults.
Some schools are. Sir Cyril talks of Comberton Village College (one of the Henry Morris-inspired schools set up in Cambridgeshire as hearts of their communities – I went to another one) as a shining example. We at the RSA are working on a project entitled Schools without Boundaries that seeks to develop more. So you’ll be hearing from us on this topic again.