Alternative Provision has many common misconceptions surrounding it. It is easy to get confused as to what it is and what it involves. We have created this series of Frequently Asked Questions to help you reach a better understanding of Alternative Provision.
1. What is Alternative Provision?
Alternative Provision (AP) is tailored education for students facing challenges hindering their participation in mainstream schools. It caters to diverse needs, including behavioural issues, medical conditions, and mental health challenges. The approach is flexible, with smaller class sizes and personalised support to address individual learning styles. Unlike mainstream education, AP provides specialised assistance for a broader range of challenges, and it differs from Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and independent schools in its comprehensive focus on diverse student needs.
2. What are the misconceptions of Alternative Provision?
Misconceptions about Alternative Provision (AP) often revolve around stereotypes and misunderstandings. One common misconception is viewing AP as a place exclusively for “naughty” or troubled young people. In reality, AP caters to a diverse range of students facing various challenges, such as learning disabilities, mental health issues, or medical conditions. It’s not solely a disciplinary measure but rather a tailored educational approach aiming to meet individual needs. By providing personalised support, smaller class sizes, and flexible teaching methods, AP seeks to create an environment where students can thrive despite their unique circumstances.
Another misconception concerns the nature of delivery in AP. Some may assume that alternative provision lacks academic rigor or follows a one-size-fits-all approach. On the contrary, AP often employs innovative and flexible teaching methods, adapting to the learning styles and needs of individual students. The focus is on providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment that encourages success.
3. Can you get qualifications attending an Alternative Provision school?
Yes, by attending AP, students are still given the opportunity to gain qualifications and so much more. At Progress Schools, we think it’s important that you can study a range of subjects. Our students follow a carefully, curated curriculum including a mix of lesson based and practical learning. We provide our students with the tools to complete their GCSEs in English, Maths, and Science. However, we also support a range of experiences from Sport to Art, and more vocational subjects.
4. Why should AP be better funded?
Alternative Provision provides support to societies most vulnerable young people who require individualised additional support. Last year, the number of students to attend Alternative Provision increased by 15%. As there is a greater need for AP, more funding is required to meet the demand. AP schools are primarily funded through placements and contracts with the local authority, however, unlike Mainstream Schools, AP often miss out on Pupil Premium Capital Funding and wider initiatives to support young people put in place by the Department for Education (DfE).
At Progress Schools, we provide meals at no extra cost to our student’s families as we understand the economic pressures they can be under. We also support our students through providing access to counselling, mental health support and intervention schemes to create an environment that allows them to reach their full potential. To continue to do this, however, we require increased funding. This way we can improve our sites and facilities, employ additional staff, and provide specialist training to better support the increasing needs of our students. In the long term, more funding will reduce larger scale issues in our communities such as unemployment and crime rates as, through AP, we can provide our young people with an effective and nurturing outlet that caters for their individual needs, setting them up on a path to be able to make better choices later in life.
5. What do you teach in Progress Schools?
There are many misconceptions surrounding what we teach at Progress Schools, and in other Alternative Provisions. We asked some members of staff to explore this question.
Cosmina, one of our teachers at Progress Schools Thrapston, discussed the benefits of teaching at Progress Schools. From the smaller class sizes, the freedom to offer a personalised learning approach to cater to each student’s needs, to having more opportunities to get to know your students better. Hear why Cosmina chooses to teach AP and is inspired by her students every day here.
Connor, one of our teachers at Progress Schools Hamilton Square, detailed what we teach at Progress Schools. Progress Schools follow a carefully curated curriculum that includes most aspects of Mainstream curriculums such as GCSE qualifications. This provides our students with high-quality education and helps when they progress beyond our school into college, apprenticeships, or work. In addition, we have expanded our curriculum to include our ‘My’ subjects, Enterprise, and Current Affairs lessons. These extra lessons allow our students to expand their minds, gain a better perspective of the wider world, prepare for their futures, and understand themselves better. Watch the video for a more in-depth look at what we teach at Progress Schools from Connor here.
6. What different types of support do you offer to your students?
Many students are placed in Alternative Provision because they have been out of education for an extended period of time or after having struggled in the mainstream setting. Each AP differs in the support they offer as each has a goal to provide individualised support to their students which is dependent on their needs.
At Progress Schools, when a student first joins us, they take part in an induction period allowing them to build positive relationships with our staff. This also allows our staff to find out more about the student, both academically and personally, to give an idea on how to best support them.
We provide each student with a multitude of vocational opportunities to allow them to gain first-hand experience. Through our student reward system, we can positively reinforce their strengths throughout their time with us. As many of our students have had issues with authority figures in previous schools, our pastoral support team are often designated to a student. This allows for a deeper relationship to be built, giving each student a school-based support system that they are comfortable with and trust. We also work with external partners, getting involved in youth workshops or talks, to aid our students in overcoming the many hurdles that young people can face today. By implementing a number of support techniques, we can ensure that each student receives the help they need to excel on their educational journey.