Community Schools, extended Schools, full service schools: all these labels refer to schools that open up to the world and where collaboration between different partners, linked to the lives of children and youngsters and their families, is a central point. In Flanders and Brussels following reference framework, based on experiences in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, is developed:
“A community school aims at ameliorating the broad development of all children and youngsters by supporting and/or creating a broad learning and living environment in which children and youngsters can gain a wide range of learning and living experiences. In order to achieve this goal a broad network is established between organizations and authorities from the various sectors that jointly shape and support the learning/living of children and youngsters.“ (Joos, Ernalsteen, et all. , 2006; Joos & Ernalsteen, 2010).
A Community school essentially aims at providing children and youngsters with a maximum of opportunities and chances to realise such a broad development. It focuses on the connection between the different aspects of every concrete learning and living experience and between the many learning and living experiences children and youngsters are confronted with every day. When we talk about learning, it means all forms of developing competencies, also by playing, by enjoying activities, in a formal or in an more informal way (Bentley, 1998, Thomas & Pattison, 2007; Dumont et al, 2010). In developing a broad learning and living environment, we discern three main ideas: widening the learning and living environment and strengthen the learning and living environment and broad learning.
In Brussels, currently 28 community schools are funded by the Flemish Community Commission (Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie) and the Government of Flanders (Vlaamse Overheid). These Community Schools developed mainly in deprived neighborhoods.
In january 2015 we’ve started an impact-study of these 28 community schools: what kind of processes are they investing in, how do they realize to create a broad living and learning environment and how do they use and alter the environment as a way to strengthen learning of children in and after school-hours.