As the only university recognised research centre within ECLS, CfLaT’s research interests are diverse in content and context, though linked by over-arching themes. One such overarching theme is that of evaluative work of community-based initiatives including Social Regeneration Budget (SRB) funded programmes, such as The Training Strategy of Reviving the Heart of the West End SRB programme and The Pennywell Community and Health Resource Project. Local Authority programmes, such as a local Education Action Zone (EAZ), The Quality Time Project, The Literacy Transition Project and a Sure Start Local Programme. More recently, we have been heavily involved in extended/community schooling programmes.
Common across all such projects is an interest in, and commitment to, collaborative working between schools, communities and multi-agency partners to better support the needs of vulnerable children, young people and adults living in the communities served by the school. It is a theme which has developed alongside increasing advocacy by central government of a more extended role for schools and, with the national roll out of the extended schools initiative and the introduction of the Every Child Matters statutory framework for delivery, and it is a theme which reflects an area of high profile government policy. Several CfLaT members have been involved in research in this area over the years: Jill Clark, Colleen Cummings, Elaine Hall, Ian Hall, Karen Laing, Lucy Tiplady and Liz Todd.
Indeed, informing policy and evaluating government initiatives has formed the main strand of our work and the report from the first piece of work in this field involving a CfLaT member (Colleen Cummings) was launched in 2003 at a Whitehall seminar with David Milliband. This research, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation between 2000 and 2002, investigated the role of schools in community regeneration at the time when the Social Exclusion Unit had launched their National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal and had a designated policy action team to promote school community collaboration. Fieldwork for this research fell into four broad stages. A first round of interviews was carried out with key stakeholders with the aim of gathering perceptions and factual information about the communities and the schools serving those communities. The second round of interviews focused on strategy and regeneration policy and a third round of interviews explored the impact of area based initiatives with the focus on education action zones in each of two areas. Quantitative data analysis of post code level school performance data was also undertaken to enable the team to compare case study schools’ performance on measures of pupil achievement in relation to schools nationally and in similar circumstances. The press release and further details of the findings from this study can be found here.
Building on this work, members of CfLaT (Colleen Cummings and Professor Liz Todd) undertook a local evaluation of FSES, followed by evaluations for the then DfES of their extended schools pilot initiatives. The first piece of work was an evaluation of the DfES extended schools demonstration project which was launched in 2001 to explore models of extended schooling in three Local Education Authorities. Following on, an extended schools pathfinder project involving 25 Local Education Authorities was launched in 2002 at a time when governing bodies were granted greater powers enabling them to provide community services and facilities from school sites (Education Act, England and Wales Statutes, Section 27, 2002). This two year evaluation, conducted by the aforementioned CfLaT members in collaboration with the School of Education at the University of Manchester and the Education Policy and Evaluation Unit, University of Brighton, aimed to assess:
1. The impact of the projects on a range of pupil outcomes;
2. The impact on teaching and learning;
3. The impact on community cohesion and regeneration;
4. The attitudes of parents and other community members towards the schools;
5. The funding of extended approaches (including capital costs);
6. Relationships with key local partners;
7. Relationship/integration with other key initiatives in the area;
8. Processes involved in setting up the provision of services on the school premises;
9. The barriers that are encountered and ways in which these barriers are overcome;
10.The management structures adopted by schools and LEAs, including clustering arrangements.
The report from this evaluation set out some of the analytical dimensions and process issues in the development of extended schools, implications for future developments and outcomes for service users. The theory of change methodology was adopted and research methods generating qualitative and qualitative data were applied.
The announcement came in 2003 of the national roll out of the DfES Full Service Extended Schools initiative involving the development of at least one full service extended school in every Local Authority by 2006. Such schools needed to involve the co-location of services on the school site and establish provision including health, social care, childcare, adult and family learning, family support and access to sport, arts and ICT. These schools needed also to link with strategies around behaviour and educational inclusion and were expected to marry with a range of newly emerging policy initiatives such as Children’s Centres, to provide a better response to meeting the needs of vulnerable children (DfES, 2003, 2004). The same team within CfLaT and the School of Education at the University of Manchester were commissioned to evaluate the programme over a three year period starting in 2004. Securing this work was important not least as it complemented our previous evaluative work and enabled us to build on our research portfolio in the field. Timing of this work was also crucial in that the evaluation came around the time of the children’s services proposals outlined in the 2003 Green Paper Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003) the Children Bill (now Act) (DfES, 2004c) and the accompanying Next Steps document (DfES, 2004a) which advocated a closer integration of the work of education, social services and health services. In this context, Full Service Extended Schools were regarded as vehicles through which to deliver a range of services to children and families and had therefore become one of the key means of delivering the Government’s new agenda for children.
The aims of the evaluation of the Full Service Extended Schools project were organised under four broad categories:
1. To identify and characterise the activities undertaken by participating schools.
2. To identify the processes underpinning these activities.
3. To identify the impacts of activities.
4. To identify the outcomes of activities.
In order to carry out this evaluation, the project team devised a four-part modular approach which comprised of:
A research report was published at the end of year 1 of the evaluation, two thematic papers (one brief and one full paper) followed towards the end of year 2 and a final evaluation report and research brief was published by the DfES in 2007 accompanied by a press release from DfES and local and national press coverage.
To complement the large scale national evaluations, some smaller pieces of evaluative research have been commissioned by Local Authorities and undertaken by the team. For instance we were commissioned by a Local Authority in the region to evaluate one of their Education Action Zones and their Full Service Extended Schools programme. Moreover, a team of researchers from CfLaT are currently evaluating an extended schools programme for another Local Authority involving schools across 24 clusters and 5 constituencies. The evaluation is focusing on scale and focus of delivery, process issues, access and inclusion, outcomes and strategy and is drawing on qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Extended schools policy now requires all schools nationally to deliver a core offer of extended provision by 2010 with a focus on co-ordination of provision at cluster level. This current research is being undertaken within this new policy context.
Dissemination of research has been in the form of journal articles, research reports, conference papers delivered at European and British education conferences, symposium at BERA, keynote speeches and workshops at various practitioner conferences, national and local seminars and the 2007 annual CfLaT conference. Also published this year is a book by Dr Liz Todd on multi-agency collaboration which is based in part on some of the research outlined and also on her professional practice and experience. Drawing on substantial research evidence, this book looks at reasons for this situation, what is happening now, what developments and initiatives have been tried and what can be done to develop a culture of participation. Some of the main threats to participation are discussed in this book including:
The book was short-listed for the NASEN/TES academic book awards this year. Furthermore, securing the Editorial for an Extended Schools Update Series from Optimus Publishing, which will comprise of case study material from extended and full service extended schools, will provide a creative avenue through which to regularly disseminate research findings and share good practice with schools which are at different stages of extended schools development. Colleen Cummings and Sarah Squires are Editors of this publication.
We regard this work as extremely valuable and worthwhile and hope to continue to build our research portfolio in this important area of educational policy. We would welcome you to contact us to find out more about our work and to discuss possible commissioning and/or research collaboration Please contact the following members of CfLaT: Colleen Cummings and Professor Liz Todd.
Publications in this area:
Walker, J., WIlson, G., Laing, K. and Pennington, M. (2010) Care Matters: Budget holding lead professionals (BHLPs) with Looked After Children in England. Research Report RR225, London, DCSF. Download here.
Cummings, C., Dyson, A., Muijs, D., Papps, I., Pearson, D., Raffo, C., Tiplady, L. and Todd, L. (2007) Evaluation of the Full Service Extended Schools Initiative: Final Report. London: DfES. Download here.
Todd, L. (2007) Partnerships for Inclusive Education : A critical approach to collaborative working. London: Routledge.
Cummings, C and Dyson, A. (2006) The role of schools in area regeneration. Research Papers in Education, 22(1), 1-22.
Cummings, C., Dyson, A., and Todd, L. (2006) Towards Extended Schools? How Education and Other Professionals Understand Community-Oriented Schooling. Children & Society, 21(3), 189-200. Download here.
Hall, E. and Clark, J. (2006) Ghosts at the Feast: The role of research centres in supporting innovative practice in local authorities. Studies in research: Evaluation, Impact and Training, 2, 1-9. Download here.
Cummings, C., Dyson, A., Papps, I., Pearson, D., Raffo, C., Tiplady, L. and Todd, L. (2006) Evaluation of the Full Service Extended Schools Initiative, Second Year: Thematic Papers: End of First Year Report. London: DfES. Download here.
McCaughey, C., Mroz, M. and Clark, J. Evaluating Sure Start: The LEEPs for 1s and LEEPs for 2s Programmes. (2005) Research Centre for Learning and Teaching: University of Newcastle upon Tyne, , 1-50. Download here.
Hall, E. and Clark, J. (2005) Exploring multi-professionalism and the changing roles of health professionals within Sure Start. University of Newcastle upon Tyne: Research Centre for Learning and Teaching, , p.1-24. Download here.
Cummings, C, Dyson, A., and Todd, L. (2004) Extended Schools: Ambitious Aims - Problematic outcomes. In: Angeliki Lazaridou, ed. Contemporary Issues on Educational Administration and Policy. Athens, Greece: Athens Institute for Educational Research, pp. 209-224.
Todd, L. (2004) Making Schools the Hub of the Community. Family Today, (11), 10-13.
Cummings, C, Dyson, A., Millward, A. (2004) Participation and democracy: What's inclusion got to do with it?. In: Allan, J, ed. Inclusion, Participation and Democracy: What is the purpose?. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 49-66.
Cummings, C., Todd, L. and Dyson, A (2003) Extended schools pathfinder evaluation: issues for schools and local education authorities, DfES research brief, London: Department for Education and Skills. Download here.
Hall, I., and Clark, J. (2003) An Interim Evaluation of the Pennywell Community Health Resource Project. Newcastle upon Tyne: School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Download here.
Crowther, D., Cummings, C, Dyson, A. & Millward, A. (2003) Schools and Area regeneration. Bristol: The Policy press.
Todd, L. (2003) An evaluation of the Gateshead Pathfinder Project. January – August 2003. Final Report. Gateshead Council.
Cummings, C, Dyson, A. and Millward, A. (2002) An Evaluation of Willington EAZ. University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Hall, I., Clark, J. and Robson, E. (2001) Reviving the Heart of the West-End Training Strategy, An evaluation of the Intermediate Job Market Program. Department of Education, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Download here.
Clark, J. and Robson, E. (1999) Evaluation of the Reviving the Heart of the West End Training Strategy (SRB). Newcastle upon Tyne: Department of Education, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.