Published On: July 19, 2022|929 words|4.7 min read|
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Alternative Provision, what is it, who gets it and what’s in it for staff? The Covid-19 pandemic has been a huge catalyst towards proving that ‘one size fits all’ education – really doesn’t fit all. As pupils and teachers took to hastily prepared workbooks, teams lessons (you’re on mute, miss) and telephone parents’ evenings, the disparity in mainstream education across England was plain for all to see.

Alternative Provision

Alternative Provision, what is it, who gets it and what’s in it for staff? The Covid-19 pandemic has been a huge catalyst towards proving that ‘one size fits all’ education – really doesn’t fit all. As pupils and teachers took to hastily prepared workbooks, teams lessons (you’re on mute, miss) and telephone parents’ evenings, the disparity in mainstream education across England was plain for all to see.

Alternative Provision isn’t a new concept. Pupils from a multitude of different economic backgrounds, facing all manner of issues have benefitted from taking time out of the mainstream classroom, learning from industry role models and building trust and respect with mentors who really care about their future.

Alternative Provision

Alternative Provision

What is Alternative Provision?

Alternative Provision (AP) is defined as ‘education outside school, arranged by local authorities or schools themselves.’ It is full-time education.

Local authorities can arrange education for young people, who because of exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education. Schools typically signpost pupils on a fixed-period exclusion or permanent exclusion to attend alternative provisions.

AP seeks to ensure young people are catered for with clear education and training pathways and ultimately do not fall into the NEET category (Not in Employment, Education or Training) post-year-11.

Pupil Referral Units also fall under the state-funded Alternative Provision category. Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) are typically thought of as a place where a child has to attend due to behavioural issues or having no school place.

So, it’s not a physical school?

Alternative provision can be delivered in several different settings, including but not limited to:

  • Youth Centre settings
  • Sports facilities
  • Outdoor learning centres
  • Forest Schools
  • Animal-assisted therapeutic centres
  • Vocational and practical settings like car mechanics or hairdressers
  • Community centre settings

With a core aim to advance pupil development in a setting different to the traditional classroom, Alternative Provision offers much smaller pupil numbers and includes regular pastoral support.

The alternative provision at Progress Schools is similar to mainstream education in that pupils are offered a variety of different subjects including English, maths, science and PE, however individual pathways are tailored to the pupil to help encourage freedom of choice, confidence and commitment.

Pupils attend on a full-time or part-time basis depending on their individual pathways. Building confidence, maintaining good behaviour and routines and for some, reintegrating back into mainstream school – is the key to successful Alternative Provision.

Staff at Progress Schools are not all teachers with degrees. NQT status and PGCEs are not mandatory to be able to support pupils successfully. People with industry experience in social care, health care, youth work, law enforcement and beyond have successfully transitioned into Alternative Provision and utilised their behaviour management skills, compassion and determination so see pupils reach their potential and thrive.

How is Alternative Provision different to mainstream school?

Alternative Provision is;

  • Human scale – smaller class sizes allowing for teachers and teaching support staff to know each of their students individually, and tailor their teaching to suit their needs All adults and children work together in decision-making
  • Students learn what is appropriate to them at them at the right age
  • Students are encouraged to be themselves
  • Teachers are given curriculum flexibility and are encouraged to think outside the box
  • Teachers, pastoral mentors, and heads of school are recruited from many different industries bringing with them a wealth of professional and personal experience and a wide range of valuable skills – not just from the education sector.

Who benefits from Alternative provision?

Pupils

Not all pupils are suited to mainstream education settings. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just ‘naughty’ kids who benefit from Alternative Provision schools. Young people who do not attend mainstream school due to behavioural issues, short- or long-term illness, diagnosed and undiagnosed special educational needs, mental health needs or school exclusion may be referred to an alternative site provision.

Alternative Provision at Progress Schools offers young people an opportunity to receive quality and consistent support, both in their educational achievements and their ongoing personal development.

Staff

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to teach in England. Again, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the true remit of modern-day teaching which extends far beyond the classroom and playground. With growing cohort numbers, increasing demand for resources and very little budget to spare, mainstream teaching staff are understandably exhausted.

Alternative provision is as challenging as it is rewarding. Dramatically smaller pupil numbers, the freedom to deliver the curriculum in a flexible manner, plus consistent support from senior management combines to offer teachers, those wanting to teach and invaluable support staff the opportunity to truly participate in and help steer the learner journey.

We’re recruiting now. Find out more about Progress Schools vacancies, here.

Communities 

It’s not rocket science. Young people with a clear understanding of their potential and consistent support to help them achieve their goals often shape future communities. The more they engage and challenge themselves to achieve the more our young people focus on the bigger picture. Taking pride in their achievements and influencing others with their own stories can significantly lower antisocial behaviour and increase entrepreneurial spirit, benefitting everyone in our community.

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