Alternative provisions are highly important within the education system. What should APs now look like and what should be implemented?
An alternative provision effectively provides students education who cannot make it into mainstream education for whatever reason. APs can be situated in a variety of locations and can also be online. According to statistics:
“It is estimated that there are at least 32,083 pupils educated across at least 761 alternative provision settings in England.”
The pandemic has caused an influx of a variety of students now being enrolled on alternative provisions. Students with mental health problems, in particular anxiety, can use APs due to the pandemic increasing mental health issues. Other reasons students may be enrolled on alternative provisions include:
- Behavioural reasons
- Risk of exclusion or in need of a 6th-day provision
- School-phobic or school refuses
- Persistently absent
- Home educated
- In isolation/detention
- Physically unable
There may be a spectrum of students using APs. This includes levels of abilities with their learning and some may have special circumstances such as SEND students. According to research:
“81% of pupils in alternative provision (AP) are on the SEND (special educational needs and disability) register, which is almost six times more than in mainstream schools.”
This is why it is essential that alternative provisions now cater for the needs of every student and maintain a positive experience with their learning in line with the recent SEND review 2022.
There were many challenges that alternative provisions faced throughout the pandemic including making them a positive experience for all involved, addressing attainment outcomes and assessing their affordability.
The constraints regarding AP
A negative stigma currently surrounds alternative provisions, so measures must be installed following the SEND review to improve this. Certain students may struggle with alternative provisions which can lead to implications in the future. According to research:
“higher levels in Alternative Provision, often lead to knock on effects of social exclusion. Safeguarding Issues – higher levels create problems with students’ behaviour and poor coping strategies, leading to schools not being able to manage behaviour, which leads to poor MH.”
Reaching positive destinations is the desired outcome by many students in AP such as training, employment or further education.
“AP students are 34% less likely than their mainstream peers to reach such destinations.”
Factors such as less motivation, behavioural problems, mental health or autism challenges or simply a lack of interest in school all contribute to students struggling in AP.
This statistic needs to change. New measures in place could make alternative provisions a positive experience for students, it’s just a question of how this can be achieved.
What alternative provisions should consist of
Alternative provisions should focus on the positive reintegration of students, but also ensure that safeguarding is treated with the utmost importance, especially considering recent child abuse cases. If the alternative provision is online it would be good to:
- Collect the IP addresses of those students so they are safeguarded
- Record everything the student does from a webcam to mouse strokes
- Implement safety questionnaires to identify if they are ready to learn
Opening a regular dialogue between student, parent and school is also imperative. This could be achieved by having regular well-being checks and also attainment level meetings to assess student progression. This will also keep parents informed of their child’s progression so they are actively involved with their learning too.
A pastoral wraparound and an attempt to intensify care for a student’s safety and well-being will go a long way in helping children with their learning.
Alternative provisions need to be inclusive for students so they feel they are included during their learning, rather than APs feeling like a punishment, which can help remove the negative stigma.
Additionally, it is now crucial that SEND students are catered towards now in alternative provisions. This could be adding the ability to adjust texts so they are eligible, or even adding audio assistance for flexible learning.
Schools should now make a conscious effort to choose the most affordable and suitable alternative provision so that they can spend on other areas within their school such as more materials or hiring additional staff members to ease workload and stresses within their school.
How EDClass can help
EDClass’ online alternative provision is perfect for those who want to work remotely and students can even do it from the comfort of their own homes.
A focus on safeguarding and prioritising a positive reintegration back into school is key and students can use the online platform to learn at their own pace. Take a look at Faye’s story.
Everything is recorded on the platform and students’ attainment levels are tracked with a unique five-step process implemented allowing students to identify areas for improvement so they can be on par with their peers.