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Complementary and Supplementary Schools

 Supplementary Schools


The term Complementary and Supplementary (C & S) education/schools refers to the education provision made available by minority ethnic communities on a voluntary basis for their children outside of main-stream school hours, often on Saturdays or Sundays. Hence sometimes these classes are also known as Saturday or Sunday schools. Traditionally classes that offer mother tongue teaching are referred to as ‘complementary’ because they complement mainstream provision, and those offering culturally specific studies and homework or study support are described as ‘supplementary’. Research indicates that once children’s bilingualism and cultural identity is nurtured their sense of self identity and self esteem increases and they grow up as confident achievers. C & S schools can play a significant role in nurturing bilingualism and cultural identity.

The concept of “community language school” or a voluntary educational organisation, outside mainstream school provision and funding, has existed in Britain for some time. For example as early as 1880 there were “Sabbath-Morning religious classes for children,” this also included literacy instructions in Hebrew at the Central Synagogue, Great Portland Place in London.

Black supplementary schools were formed by parents in 1970s as a result of the publication of book, ‘Why I wrote the ‘ESN book’ by Bernard Coard.

These schools operate on Saturdays and/or on Sundays, some from mainstream school premises; there are others which operate from community centres and religious places of worship.

Teaching and learning in C & S schools is usually focused on, mother tongue, religion, religious languages, social, cultural and political background/history of the community, curriculum based literacy and numeracy. The quality of teaching and learning and the standards of attendance and behaviour vary though they are, generally high at these schools.

Some of the C & S Schools cater for GCSE and A-level in the languages taught at their schools.

Complementary & Supplementary schools largely operate through voluntary community effort.  In order to meet the operational costs some of these schools charge small fees to their students and may also engage in fund raising activities such as fetes, jumble sales etc. Some of these schools e.g. Italian, Portuguese and Finnish may also receive funding support from their embassies.

For more information please contact the QiSS Office 01227 863656