Alternative provision has been in the spotlight recently, as has the issue of school exclusions. The Department for Education recently released the findings of a large-scale investigative research study exploring the landscape of alternative provision.
The stated aims of the study were "to build the evidence base on current practice in alternative provision; and consider whether, how and with what effect schools and alternative provision settings take pupil characteristics into account throughout the process, from early identification through to reintegration".
Summary of the findings:
- Schools took active steps to identify pupils perceived to be at risk of exclusion and intervened early to prevent this if possible
- Behaviour ‘logging systems’ (computer-based systems that allow systematic recording and analysing of behaviour issues) were found to work well when used in combination with other approaches
- These other approaches included input from pastoral staff and taking into account a pupil’s background and characteristics when deciding how best to respond
- The support for pupils at risk of referral to alternative provision tended to come from within the school. While schools found external support (eg from a local authority) useful and positive, there were issues with availability, timeliness and budget constraints
- The main preventative strategies that schools put in place were mentoring, temporary withdrawal, bringing in external specialist support and changes to individual timetabling
- The main reason why schools used alternative provision was in response to pupils who exhibited persistent disruptive behaviour
- Schools that didn't use alternative provision had consistent approaches in place to manage behaviour. These included offering alternative curricula, reward programmes, de-escalation techniques, mentoring and pupil code of conduct agreements
- There was agreement about the process required to facilitate a smooth reintegration where appropriate. These included good communication between the alternative provision, the school and parent/carer. Phased reintegration and additional support/mentoring for the pupil were also identified.
NAHT Edge director