The Quality Mark for schools was developed in 1996 to provide a framework that would promote, support and celebrate the improvement of literacy and mathematics. It was updated in 2007, and in 2008 a version of the award was developed for use by early years providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors, to make it relevant to, and achievable by, settings that cater for babies, toddlers and young children from birth up to age 5. The focus was on improving communication, language and mathematical development through play-based activities within holistic provision made for the learning and development of young children.
The outcomes required by the extended services agenda for adults and families are much broader than those which the Quality Mark programme focuses on (i.e. children and young people only). This version of the Quality Mark will therefore identify, celebrate and reward the contribution and impact that extended activities and services have on the achievement of children and young people in communication, literacy and mathematical learning, both directly and indirectly.
The guidance will help all types and sizes of providers of extended activities and services in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors to achieve accreditation. It provides a framework for self-evaluation and continuous improvement, and will support providers in evaluating their contribution to, and impact on, improving the skills, abilities and personal development of children and young people, particularly in communication, literacy and mathematical learning.
Basic skills and extended services
basic skills are defined as ‘the ability to read, write and speak in English and use mathematics at a level necessary to function and progress at work and in society in general’. Other terms used include ‘foundation skills’, ‘key skills’, ‘essential skills’ or ‘functional skills’; but whichever term is used, good skills in communication, language, and mathematical development are essential: without them individuals are severely disadvantaged throughout their lives, as learners, in the workplace and as parents, consumers and citizens.
Extended services are those activities and integrated services offered by and accessed through local community groups, children’s centres and schools, including beyond the normal school day, to help meet the needs of children and young people, their families and the wider community. Extended services provide a key means of delivering the Every Child Matters1 outcomes to ensure children and young people grow up safe, healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and with economic wellbeing.
There are five aspects to the extended services core offer that is expected to be offered through partnerships between local authorities and local providers:
- high-quality wraparound childcare from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. all year round, or to reflect community demand
- a varied menu of activities, including homework clubs and study support, sport, music tuition, dance and drama, art and craft, special interest clubs and volunteering, business and enterprise activities
- parenting support, including parenting programmes and family learning
- swift and easy access to specialist support services
- provision of wider community access to ICT, sports and arts facilities and adult learning.
A full extended services programme should provide whatever learners and the community need at a given time to help them retrieve ground, taste success, build confidence, access childcare, re-engage with learning, and gain awareness of healthy living. Local authorities, children’s centres, schools and local providers from the public, voluntary and independent sectors need to work together to provide their local communities with access to a core offer of integrated services.
A varied menu of extended activities and services can provide additional and enjoyable opportunities to support and motivate children and young people, especially the more vulnerable, to acquire or improve their basic skills, raising their aspirations and having a positive impact on their future learning and achievement as well as on development of their personal skills. Although the main focus may be on sports or the arts, language and communication will be key elements in the success of the provision and so will have an have impact, directly or indirectly, on children and young people’s achievement and development.
1 Every Child Matters: Change for Children, 2004. Full details on www.everychildmatters.gov.uk