Supplementary Education

What are the legal requirements when establishing a supplementary school?

Take our quiz to check your school’s compliance with Section 11 of the Children Act.

Supplementary schools offer educational support (language, core curriculum, faith and culture) and other out-of-school activities to children attending mainstream schools. They are established and managed by community members, generally on a voluntary basis. There are 3,000-5,000 such schools in England.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) has completed a number of case studies showing a range of models for relatively sustainable supplementary schools financing. The summary report is available to download from the PHF website, while the full-length case studies can be accessed from our research page here on the NRCSE website. PHF have also published a report on the characteristics of supplementary school pupils and their educational attainment.

IPPR and RSA both completed and published research on supplementary schools and the importance of their role in improving and sustaining the educational outcomes of BME and disadvantaged children and young people. Links to both studies here.

John Lyon’s Charity is at the forefront of support for supplementary schools and believes them to be an important vehicle for channelling direct support to a variety of communities. The Charity has commissioned many pieces of work exploring and supporting the sector.


The National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRCSE) is a national strategic and support organisation for community-led supplementary schools and the wider supplementary education sector across England.  We are the national champion for excellence, innovation and partnership in supplementary education. We campaign throughout England on behalf of supplementary schools and their students, tutors and leaders. We aim to help raise the profile of supplementary schools and their standards of teaching, learning and management.

NRCSE facilitates the only nationally-recognised quality assurance scheme for all forms of supplementary education, the NRCSE Quality Mark.

We also work to improve the funding available to support community-led supplementary schools. We do this by working with the schools themselves, with the professionals who support supplementary schools within local authorities, and with mainstream schools wanting to collaborate with providers of supplementary education. We are independent of, but work with, local and central government. We’re funded by John Lyon’s Charity, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, British & Foreign School Society and Trust for London and work closely with Paul Hamlyn Foundation, BBC Children in NeedThe Department for Education, the British Museum, the Museum of LondonSafeNetwork and many local authorities and funders across England.

We believe that there are 8 pillars to work in the supplementary education sector:

  • Raising aspirations
  • Learning mother-tongue languages
  • Core curriculum teaching
  • Cultural engagement
  • Culture of achievement
  • Partnership with mainstream schools
  • Peer support
  • Engaging parents

More information on each of these areas is available from us.