About Complementary Schools

What is a Complementary School?

Complementary schools are, by definition, created and led by the members of a community that seeks to support the developmentshutterstock_53691514 of their children and young people. In general, complementary schools are non-profit making organisations, frequently registered as charities, which often rely on enthusiastic volunteers and members of the community as well as on the generosity of donors and funders.

In complementary schools, most of the activities take place after school hours and at the weekends. The number of hours varies from 2 to 10 per week. Complementary schools meet in a variety of different centres, mainly youth clubs, community centres, places of worship, and mainstream schools.

According to academic research, the work of complementary schools has a visible impact on children’s academic and social achievement. Although ethnic minority communities may share some common reasons for setting up a complementary school, such as maintaining language and identity, many of them believe that support in National Curriculum subjects within a complementary school is vital for raising attainment of ethnic minority children in their mainstream schools. For instance, within Somali and Bengali communities, parents who cannot help their children with their homework and other school work would send their children to a complementary school.