Alternative Provision education is a form of education arranged for students that do not attend mainstream schools because of issues such as permanent exclusion, behavioural issues or long term illness.

School standards minister Nick Gibb announced on August 6th that a fund would be dedicated to improving alternative provision education programmes.

The fund will be dispersed across nine projects that intend to support children back into mainstream or special schools.

He said in a statement:

“Every child, no matter the challenges they face in their life, should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential through an excellent education.”

Those that are most vulnerable to permanent exclusion are Black Caribbean Pupils, pupils with special educational needs and pupils known to be eligible for free school meals.

Pupils with identified Special Educational Needs are six times more likely to be permanently excluded than students without special educational needs and Black Caribbean pupils’ exclusion rate is three times higher than the school as a whole.

According to ONS statistics, from 2016 to 2017 83% of permanent exclusions occurred in secondary schools, which is arguably a sensitive time in pupils’ educational career, given that it is the period in which they obtain some of their most important qualifications.

Without the proper support and care given this time, it will most likely pose a greater difficulty to post 16 opportunities which can help such pupils build a brighter future.

Gibb added, “There are some excellent examples of alternative provision in the education system, but we need to raise standards across the board if we want to give every young person the opportunity to succeed.”

One of the organisations which will be receiving money from the fund, The Francis Barber Pupil Referral Unit, based in south London, is an example of the ways in which Alternative Provision education can be a force for good.

According to an Ofsted Report published in 2017, “By the time the pupils leave school in year 11, almost half achieve five GCSE examination passes, despite having significant gaps in their learning because of negative experiences of school and poor attitudes to education.”

The report also noted: “Leaders and staff monitor vulnerable pupils carefully, and never give up when they feel that a child is not receiving the support that they think the child needs.”

There are approximately 20,000 pupils in pupil referral units, a figure which has increased by 16% since 2011.

This highlights that there needs to be a more positive branding of such forms of education, so that those who attend such institutions can have access to a form of education that isn’t ‘less than’ other mainstream institutions.


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