DfE ‘must increase support’ for AP school leavers entering FE

Children’s commissioner also says disrupted alternative provision pupils should be able to repeat year 11

Children’s commissioner also says disrupted alternative provision pupils should be able to repeat year 11

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The children’s commissioner has called on the government to fund a “graduated stepdown programme of support” for year 11 pupils leaving alternative provision (AP). 

The recommendation comes amid concern that specialist schools lack the resources to help young people in AP to make the transition to post-16 education.

Dame Rachel de Souza also said government should fund students who need to repeat year 11 after arriving in AP late or having their GCSEs disrupted.

A poll of young people carried out by Opinium for de Souza’s office found only 53 per cent of children receiving AP were confident they would get the education they wanted, compared with 74 per cent of children as a whole.

There was a similar gap when respondents were asked whether they thought they would learn the skills needed for a good job (52 per cent vs 72 per cent) and whether they thought they would have a job they were happy with (50 per cent vs 67 per cent).

AP leaders said they needed to support young people for a period after they left school “to ensure that they sustained a positive destination”, but that this support was “difficult to provide”.

Settings “are only funded for the children on-roll, and often do not have the capacity to provide additional support to previous year 11s”, the report warned.

In response, the government should fund alternative providers to “offer a graduated stepdown programme of support for all year 11 leavers and, where necessary, provide an opportunity to resit the final year of AP for some learners who have had a disrupted key stage 4”.

As part of its AP funding review, DfE should look at how it can provide “ringfenced funding for the work AP schools do to support their children to transition to positive post-16 destinations”. 

The review “should look at how to create a limited number of post-16 placements for children who have had a disrupted key stage 4, who have entered AP very late in year 11 or who have been unable to access education during their exam years”.

These placements “should enable children to resit their final year in AP and to study the qualifications they need for post-16 pathways”. 

The review should also look at how to finance careers advisers, work experience and an “extended support programme for all children transitioning from AP to a post-16 destination”. 

Ministers should also review accountability measures, to “ensure they capture the extent to which AP leavers secure and sustain positive post-16 destinations”.

De Souza said her research showed children in AP were “deeply ambitious” and saw getting a good job or career as a priority. “However, often they are not given the support they need to succeed… These children are every bit as ambitious as other children. It is up to us as adults to match that ambition.”

A damning Ofsted and Care Quality Commission report in February found AP was in “desperate need of reform” amid “systemic issues” that led to “inconsistent outcomes”.

De Souza’s report called on DfE to develop an AP workforce strategy and train AP teachers to become personal, social, health and economic specialists. She also said the AP taskforce programme, which provides wraparound support for children in AP in 21 areas, should be rolled out nationally.

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