Academic Lead: Dr Ornette D Clennon and Jan Bradburn (Manchester City Council)
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Supplementary schools are volunteer-led spaces, offering educational, cultural and language provision for mainly black and minority ethnic (BME) children and young people. Research has consistently shown that they offer an invaluable resource for many pupils, but are often overlooked by mainstream schools and education funders. (Nwulu, 2015, p. 7). According to Ramalingam & Griffith’s (2015) report, there are between three to five thousand supplementary schools across the country that operate mainly on Saturdays and sometimes on weekdays in the early evening. These statistics are especially important when we consider that approaching a third of all BAME pupils attend supplementary schools alongside mainstream education.
In order to give feedback on the Green Paper, we arranged two focus group meetings with a range of BAME supplementary schools from Greater Manchester’s African and African Caribbean, Somali, Muslim, Arab and Chinese communities. Our discussions with the focus groups revealed the wide range of activities that our supplementary schools undertake and although their central focus is education, they very much act as community hubs with the potential to deliver an even greater range of community services. The overwhelming sentiment from our groups was that the government needs to greatly expand its current recognition of ‘out-of-school settings’ to include the wide range of community activities that supplementary schools already run to “build[ing] strong, integrated communities” that “challeng[ing] attitudes and practices which…foster[ing] division” (HM Government, 2018, p. 16)
We would suggest that funding is needed for pilot projects that promote community cohesion and inter-school cooperation. These pilot projects could act as opportunities for supplementary schools to build track-records for larger consortium-based commissioned community services (e.g. youth engagement, adult literacy, etc.)
We would suggest that more funding is needed to create a dedicated Local Authority team that looks after safeguarding and (teacher) training for supplementary schools. This team would also be responsible for managing any paper work that future regulation might create.
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