The Department of Education's extended schools programme aims to improve levels of educational achievement for disadvantaged children and young people by providing the additional support that they might need to help them reach their full potential.

Background to the extended schools programme

Launched in May 2006, over £167 million of funding has been provided through the extended schools programme over the last 17 years. Over £8.1m in funding has been provided in 2023/24. The funding allows those schools serving the most disadvantaged areas to offer a wide range of services or activities outside of the normal school day to help meet the learning and development needs of pupils, their families and local communities.

Extended schools activities

Extended schools activities are designed to support learning, raise school standards and promote healthy lifestyles, enabling schools to work closely with members of the wider community and connect local people with local services. Some examples include

  • breakfast or homework clubs
  • sport
  • art
  • drama
  • ICT
  • programmes for parents and families
  • community use of school premises

Eligibility and funding for extended schools

More information on extended schools is available below including the criteria used to work out which schools qualify for the programme and how their funding is calculated

List of participating extended schools

A list of those schools which have received extended schools funding is set out in the link below, for each of the last three financial years.

Further information on how extended schools can help you is available on the nidirect website. To find out what services are provided by schools in your local area you can check with the schools themselves or the Education Authority.

For additional guidance on the extended schools programme, aimed primarily at School Principals and Boards of Governors, refer to the Extended Schools Guidance webpage.

DE is also piloting a 'full service' approach in two severely disadvantaged areas of Belfast which, like the extended schools programme, aims to support and maximise the learning and achievement of children most in need or at risk of low educational attainment. You can find out more about full service provision at Full Service Programmes.

Extended schools guidance

The Department of Education (DE) introduced the extended schools programme in 2006. Extended schools policy is set out in the document  'Extended Schools: schools, families, communities – working together', which explains the vision for extended schools and acts as a reference guide providing practical help to schools in delivering the aims of the programme.

The original policy booklet can be accessed through the following link:

Extended Schools Annual Report 

Please see latest report on Extended Schools compiled by the Education Authority.

A short film

A short film, developed to accompany the launch of the programme, may also be useful to schools with regards to extended provision and can be accessed on the Extended Schools Video below.


In 2010, DE issued a circular, 'Extended Schools – Building on Good Practice', to help re-inforce the key messages behind extended schools policy. The circular provides updated guidance to extended schools and outlines examples of schools demonstrating effective practice in providing extended services. Schools are encouraged to avail of the advice and guidance contained in the circular.

Financial management arrangements for extended schools

The financial management arrangements which govern the use of extended schools funding have been specifically designed to reflect the needs of the Controlled/Maintained sectors, Voluntary Grammar/Grant Maintained Integrated Schools and Special Schools. Schools participating in the programme are responsible for ensuring compliance with the budget management procedures as set out in the relevant financial guidance.  

The financial management arrangements which currently apply for the extended schools programme can be accessed below.

More information

For further detailed guidance and information, you can also refer to the Northern Ireland Extended Schools Information System (NIESIS), which is the dedicated technical support website for participating extended schools operated by the Education Authority. 


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