Feb 15th, 2022
Hosts, Chris Jones and Anna Trethewey talk about schools exclusions and alternative provision. Anna talk to Ofsted's Anna Heavey about what Ofsted looks for on inspection. Chris talks to Danny Coyle from the Newman Catholic College and Anna Cain from the boxing Academy about complexity around exclusions and keeping children in school.
AT: Anna Trethewey
CJ: Chris Jones
AH: Anne Heavey
AC: Anna Cain
DC: Danny Coyle
AT: Hello and welcome to this episode of Ofsted Talks. Today we're going to be talking about exclusions and alternative provision.
CP: Yes, Anna – we are. A challenging topic. We are exclusions are really difficult for schools and no headaches excluding likely are but unfortunately sometimes they are unavoidable. So this podcast is going to explore how we can ensure that when exclusions are necessary that children are being excluded are supported in the best way possible and have access to the best alternative provision to help them get back on track.
AT: Yeah, it's massively important. So first up, I talked to Anne Heavey from an Ofsted policy team. And we had a really interesting discussion about what we look for around exclusions and alternative provision on inspection.
CJ: And then I took part in a fascinating discussion with Danny Coyle, from the Newman Catholic College and Anna came from the Boxing Academy, which is an alternative provision and we discussed the effect exclusion can have on children and some ways to reduce it.
AT: Brilliant. Okay, first let's have a listen to and talk about exclusions and inspection.
AT: It's lovely to have you along. I wanted so for listeners out there. This is Anne Heavey from Ofsted. Can you just talk a little bit about who you are
and what your role is pleased?
AH: I am Anne Heavy. I'm a member of the school's early education policy team. So I help the organisation think about how we're inspecting schools the methods that we use and the what we're hoping to achieve as we're doing that through handbooks, our guidance and our inspector training.
AT: Cool. Okay, great. So that means that you are very well placed but my first question What does Ofsted look at when considering exclusion levels on inspection?
AH: So there are a few bits of information that we will have about the school, which I'll go through and I'll also talk about what we actually lay out in our handbook about what we look at. So to begin with, our inspectors will have access to information about suspensions and exclusions. Historically, that have taken place in the school. And they will pull out quite interesting information. So they'll look at the number that have taken place, and also the reasons that have been recorded for both suspensions and exclusions. And they won't be making any judgments at that point about whether or not that exclusion should have happened or kind of this is automatically terrible or brilliant, but it will help set the tone. And one thing that I would just like to draw attention to is we do see no specific reason or not specified often listed as why an exclusion happened and it is likely that the inspectors will want to find out a little bit more about what's underneath those suspensions and exclusions because if we're not sure why they happened, how can we learn from them and reflect on maybe how we refine our processes and provision? We will also right at the start of the inspection The inspector will ask the school to provide records of their exclusions and a few other things like use of internal exclusion arrangements. So we'll be looking in the round. How behaviour and attitudes are managed as part of that behaviour and attitudes judgement. One thing I would really like to flag is that we're very clear in the handbook that we don't think excursions in and of themselves are a bad thing. Headteachers do have the power to exclude if it is in the best interests of their school community. However, what we will be guided by when we're considering the schools use of exclusions and suspensions is whether that was a last resort, and what is the culture and the actions within the school that help everybody to achieve really well and access a safe environment. We certainly won't look at a school and think there are no exclusions that must be great automatically or there are lots of exclusions that must be bad. We want to know why what's going on and have that rich discussion.
AT: So my next question is, you know slightly philosophical you touched on it already, but is exclusion a necessary part of school life?
AH: That's a really good question. I think it's important that we remember that it's a legitimate action to take in some circumstances. So is it a necessary tool in the toolbox for a headteacher to run a safe and productive school? Yes. However, is it something that we think headteachers relish? No, I think we can recognise that it's a difficult process for everybody involved there as we know lots of consequences and implications. And it's, it's yeah, it's difficult. So we know headteachers will be making difficult decisions to manage the balance between maintaining that school environment maintaining a safe and productive situation for everyone and also the best interest of that child. So it's a necessary tool, but it's one that should be used very, very carefully. And with a lot of consideration.
AT: Thanks Anne. That was really helpful. I'm going to move on to alternative provision now. So if you could just lay out for me, what is alternative provision, we often just go to straight to AP, don't we? So what is alternative provision?
AH: Well, thanks. Nice, easy question.
AT: I thought you'd appreciate that.
AH: I think I'll start by just highlighting that it's a really diverse sector. And I'll wimp out of immediately answering your question and say that AP really exists to support those children who for whatever reason, ordinary mainstream education isn't working, what isn't the right thing at that time. So the cohort of pupils that access AP is very diverse. And, you know, we've just been speaking about exclusions and I think it's very important that we recognise that yes, it is a primary destination for many children that are excluded. But AP settings also work with children who may be out of school for medical reasons that may have experienced bullying, and have other reasons to not be engaged with mainstream education. So it's an incredibly diverse sector. And to attempt the you know, what is alternative provision question? It's it is that it's the alternative that is necessary in the moment to support a young person or a child to make progress and to learn, hopefully to reengage with mainstream education, but certainly to secure a meaningful next step or destination. So I hope that answers your question, but it’s a good one to start with.
AT: I think the difficulty in pinning it down is sometimes you know, you come at this question, sometimes with more questions, actually. I think it's certainly understandable. I'm going to ask another broad question for you, but one that it'd be helpful to get an understanding of, what kind of standards do we see in alternative provision.
AH: So for listeners that have already read our annual report,
AT: Thank you the geeks of you're out there.
AH: Well, there's a really helpful table within the school section, which compares the inspection outcomes of different types of school. So for those providers that are registered, and that we inspect, we can see that a lot of them are good or outstanding. Actually, if we're being frank, it's a really strong part of the sector in terms of inspection outcomes. So we can see there are a lot of providers out there that are delivering really high quality provision. I'm now going to caveat some of that. We're gonna talk about registered provision, I think at the moment and some of the concerns that we have about providers that aren't registered, but as I said earlier on the cohort that access AP are extremely diverse. And have got a lot of complex circumstances in their life. So you could have a really strong provider, that isn't the best place for a specific an individual child. So our concern is as much about the quality of the provider and the quality of education, the state that the status and training of staff and, and their contextual safeguarding knowledge, as it is those that commission the place for the child, whether it's a school or a local authority, how well does that Commissioner understand the specific needs of that child? And have they thought this is this the best possible provision to secure the best possible progress and put in that necessary support for this child, or crudely is this just what's available? And so that's a concern. I have another concern which I'd like to share, which is the use of part time provision. And as you all know, the education inspection framework is underpinned by our concept of a really coherent, high quality curriculum. How can we be sure if a child is receiving a patchwork of provision with some time spent with one provider some time spent with another and maybe they're at school as well, that that adds up to a meaningful and coherent whole and that someone is holding the reins of that provision and sure that it adds up to something that is genuinely worthwhile in every moment for that young person. And let's be honest, this isn't an issue for the AP provider necessarily, this could be an issue for the commissioning school. We do see cases when we're on inspection, where the child has been sent to the nearest convenient space, which could be great, but isn't the great thing for that pupil. So that's, a concern.
AT: So I was going to ask you, what can be improved about this revision? I guess? You've already touched on some of the kind of commissioning arrangements there. Are there any broader messages or you know, specific things providers? That are listening? Any comments on that please?
AH: I think one of the things we're really interested in is how that next step is secured. So it's it's tricky as next one. We're on inspection. We're looking at the provision that's available for children that are there in that moment right now. And really what is so crucial is that that AP empowers and secures a fantastic next step. And that could be to a special school back to mainstream to a different AP to post 16 provider. The destinations are as diverse as the cohorts. Yeah, but it's a big ask on providers, and I think we should be really honest about just how big this task is to understand every pupils needs put in, place that bespoke package and then secure that next step for them. That's a lot to ask. But we are worried about destination breakdown. And what happens particularly at post 16, where the, you know, the statutory role of AP just doesn't exist. And if you think it's a bit of a cliff edge, you know, you've had a lot of support. We know a lot of providers really build around their child. And then if you've had that at the end of your key stage four, and it's not there isn't a bridge into what comes next. You could fall over and who is going to catch you and who is going to make sure you have you know, the progress that has been made at that setting is carried on to that next step. So that's something we would really like to work on. And that's not just providers, that's everyone involved in that destination. And then the other thing we're really are concerned about is the use and our kind of sector knowledge of unregistered providers.
AT: Yeah, I was going to ask for this. So for people listening out there who don't really know what I mean by registered and unregistered, can you just give us a brief definition of that and then talk through some of the concerns we've got.
AH: So a registered provider is one that is known to the Department for Education and that we can inspect so we know quite a bit about registered providers and we will continue to inspect and understand what's going on in those providers. And as I said, the inspection outcomes for registered providers are pretty, pretty strong. Unregistered providers are just that. So they're not necessarily providing while they're not providing a full time operation and frankly we just can't be sure about the quality of suitability and safety of the provision on offer. Now, I don't want to sit here and just do down everyone that's involved in the sector. That's not my aim. Because we know as I said, right at the start, this is a really diverse sector. There are lots of providers out there who are employers who are, you know, community service providers that are providing a really bespoke, really unique offer to that child. And again, I said earlier, we've got to make sure the provision is the thing that child needs. So we need to find a way that doesn't drive great providers out of the system who are providing that great service, but it is it is not okay. And we are worried about the fact that some of our most vulnerable children are being sent to settings that we cannot be confident or safe. And that is a very low bar. And it must be reasonable to expect us to make those checks about the suitability and safety of those providers. And we will hold to account in our provider inspections, those that aren't properly checking out the providers that they're commissioning, so when we inspect a school we will always ask are you commissioning AP for any of your pupils and we will look into that and we will we will be very concerned if we find out this suitability checks haven't been taken out. But yeah, repeating that question, is it okay that some of our most vulnerable children are being sent to settings that we know almost nothing about?
AT: Thank you. That's a really helpful question, I think to pose and finish with. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.
CJ: That was really interesting, Anna. I think the points made around registering AP at the end are really important. It's a low bar, isn't it ensuring that all children are in safe and supportive environments but we're not even there yet.
AT: Yeah, yeah, you're right. It is. So your next guest specialise in a supportive environment. That's right, isn't it? Right? Yeah, they do. So let's have a listen.
CJ: I am very pleased to be joined today on the podcast by Anna Cain, who's Principal of the Boxing Academy, Danny Coyle, who's Head at the Newman Catholic College and both of them have some fantastic insights to give us on this whole issue of exclusions, alternative provision and the issues around them and ask them to introduce themselves and say a few things about their work as a starting point. So tell us a bit about yourself and about the Boxing Academy.
AC: Hi Chris. So the Boxing Academy is even in the field of alternative provision quite alternative we’re the only school in the country with boxing on the curriculum and inspected by Ofsted, I'll have you know. Boxing is it's the values and ethos of the school so we're providing an alternative education rigorous and ambitious and aspirational but using the ethos or fear of a boxing gym to create something different. So that's the alternative part but actually it's quite traditional school as well.
CJ: Brilliant more broke Come on, Danny oversee you tell us a bit about your school.
DC: Okay, thanks very much for this Yeah. Danny Coyle that teaches you in college here in in houses in northwest London. A boys school year seven up to 11 with a with a mixed sixth form. I think what characterises this school most is this deep commitment to show an inclusive ethos as hopefully will become a part of our joy the cause of this podcast. We fundamentally really no child should ever be good enough. And therefore everything follows from that, you know, the bigger the curriculum, the belief in second and third and fourth chances that high quality relationships.
CJ: Brilliant. So we're gonna talk about that exclusions and about alternative provision. But Danny, why don't we start with as you said, inclusion. What does What does inclusion mean? Mean to you, Danny and how do you how do you support that?
DC: We could spend the entire podcasts talking about? You know, in recent years, I've started looking at it from a wider societal perspective, actually, you know, in my younger years as headship and being involved in the pastoral system in schools, it was very much looking at the four walls of the school, and now come from it from I want an inclusive society. And therefore, as a headteacher, you know, we do have a power we do have authority to try to put our vision into practice. And so my belief and aspiration for more inclusive society can be lived, for example, you know, we ensure that the curriculum meets everybody's needs. Talk about this later, but for far too many years in this country, you know, schools have curtailed the curriculum, so it's exceptionally narrow a huge focus on the academic big three or four. Which means those children who could flourish in art or drama or sport and off certainly don't get their talents. Don't get opportunity to have their talents. maximised.
CJ: Yeah, good stuff done. And how about you, Anna? Obviously your school you're dealing with children often been excluded in a variety of senses of the word. So how, what does what does inclusion mean to you?
AC: Well, in our school inclusion? We try not to use the word actually, because we know we're alternative provision and many of the young people who come to us they've had inclusion done to them and it's not a word that they're comfortable with. So, you know, internal inclusion can quite often be quite a terrifying sentence to say to a young person. Slightly broader - I couldn't agree with Danny more actually, this could be a boring podcast that this way because they were in danger of agreeing on lots. But you know, we are, I've always looked at this is that society benefits if these young people are able to become successful adults, that is, to me the point of education, not GCSE or a certain type of academic learning. Schools are here so that we help young people become successful adults. What inclusion means in terms of daily practice is we're really not keen on excluding kids, not even for a couple of days. I think maybe every year there's one or two fixed term exclusions and they will only happen because a spaces needed to put something else in place. I've only ever excluded one child permanently from the Boxing Academy. It was because I was simply left with no other avenue. I can't tell you that we do this, this this and this because every year is different. Every child is different and we are constantly reviewing and trying to be as flexible as we can to meet their needs. But the bottom line is, they all deserve to be successful and they all deserve to go on and be successful adults.
CJ: That's really that's really interesting that you've to do extremely low numbers of fixed term and just one exclusion in your time there and how do you how do you manage that? Because presumably there is there is bad behaviour there are serious incidents.
AC: plenty Yeah.
CJ: so. So what's your what's your response to that?
AC: So just to be clear, the Boxing Academy is like I say, there is no typical AP anyway, and we're even more untypical. We do specialise in taking referrals of young people that are absolutely not able to get a place anywhere else. And it's usually because they have some sort of record of aggressive and violent or threatening behaviour. What we do is we sort of de stigmatise the whole thing around violence. So the first few years at the Boxing Academy and I've been in a really long time now. We spent an awful lot of time arguing and trying to convince people that boxing doesn't make people violent. And so quite often we find that, you know, the young people who come to us have been through a lot of different negative experiences, but they've learned they're usually quite smart. They've learned if you behave in a certain way to threaten someone or if you flip a table or whatever it is that they're going to do. You get yourself removed from the situation that you're not very happy about. And there could be lots of reasons for that. But this is a tactic. When they come to the Boxing Academy. They'll say, Well, you know, might have a frank and full discussion with a member of staff which involves say, Well, if you do that, I'm going to punch you in your face. At which point the staff member will go, oh, hang on a minute. If you want to do that we have to go and spa so you don't have to have a medical we'll get the gloves and we'll do it properly. And at which point, we usually find that the young people are really astonished that that threat doesn't just immediately revolve resulting in exclusion It might sound a bit odd, but once you remove that sort of power, if you like, it's a sort of a weird sort of power that children held by throwing their weight around. And we're like, everyone who was a boxer, we love fighting, but we do it properly. So if that's really is that really what you wanted out of this, they almost always don't really want to have a fight or some sort of altercation. A lot of it will be to do with it de-escalation we do a huge amount of work around trauma and attachment problems. You know, it's very easy to see where these children have got these, you know, have developed these behaviour problems from and it actually takes a remarkably small amount of patience and listening to get them to a point where they don't feel like they need to do things that cause them to get excluded.
CJ: Fascinating. Not every school has a boxing ring. The ability to do that. Danny. Your school is much more conventional, but what has Anna said, either resonates or doesn't with with you in terms of how you deal with that that type of behaviour.
DC: Well no, we haven't permanently excluded a child since 2017. There have been many occasions when that would have been the easiest thing to do. And we have a wide raft of interventions and sometimes it doesn't work and you have to try something else. But that was a conscious decision to be in a situation where children don't get permits to live in their school. Because I worked in schools before where you know, it's a weekly it's a weekly events. Yes we do fix over solutions. I did one this week for racial abuse. Not great, but it'll be better. It'll be better next week when the person comes back. The most common reason why young people get permit excluded is for constant defiance, consistent defiance, begging for schools on a regular basis. So constant defiance means that it isn't working for the school. It isn't working for the young person. But let's try something different. That's all we're doing here and like Anna as well we've done tonnes of stuff on adverse childhood childhood experiences here and the impact of trauma and also how many, many children with autism for example, just see the world differently than we do, so again, it's not a subdivision, really. To start up with division and keeping children in school is a good thing.
AC: I just wanted to agree with you that thing you said about no permanent exclusions. Its choice. I'll be honest with you. There are times when everyone's got their head in their hands. We've had young people placed with you can go eight, nine months down the road and everybody's like, nothing is working. This kid is such hard work. They aren't responding. At which point we saw, you know, there's a lot of teamwork and collaboration and support, but we like to remember that one to remember that one. That one took 14 months, and then suddenly one day to the next different child. It's if you make the choice not to exclude and to be inclusive like this, then it forces you to find a way to make it work. And I know a few schools like Danny's, but actually not very many that just say it doesn't matter what happens. We are not going to do permanent exclusions. And at that point, there's a different scenario.
CJ: Thanks Anna. Of course it’s really important not just to think about the child who is potentially being excluded but head teachers across the country are weighing up really difficult decisions about the impact that some of this poor behaviour is having on the rest of the school, the rest of the class. And sometimes headteachers are having to make really difficult decisions to exclude because that is not just in the best interest of the pupil under discussion but is in the nest interests of the school community and the best in of their classmates who are trying to go about their education and get as much as they can out of their schooling as well so really difficult decisions. Danny, I’ll come to you next, what do you think about this really difficult balance about trying to keep children in class as much as possible but also respecting the authority of the teacher and making sure that those classmates don’t lose out.
DC: I think we need to see things slightly different. I'm not saying we abdicate responsibility, I believe in authority. I believe in teaching that you know the powerful knowledge that we talked about at the school. We have authority of teachers because we know stuff, and that children don't now believe in strong classroom control and teaching on corridors and all that sort of stuff. No, we just walked in from the playground 800 children and they line up, their not silent, but they line up and go to class. So you have to run a good school authority and the most essential because at the same time when children make an infraction it's not the end of the world. But can I just go back Chris because the curriculum we can't forget the importance of that. You know, I think schools, good schools, outstanding schools, whatever that means, and now getting more opportunities to think about a broad wide range of curriculum where you get to do a bit of drama and sport and PE during the course and but we get boxing we don't do it as you know as a CT we do as an after school. activity. The whole thing about high quality teaching, having really knowledgeable, committed caring teachers in school is the start of everything. You know, the curriculum foundations in place, their visions in place, a high quality teaching in place, or in our school, and I've learned this more and more now. Over the years is the importance of literacy. You know, if you consider that 50% of prisoners in UK jails are functionally illiterate, you know, so in other words, they've got a reading those below the age of 11. If we could rectify and improve that, that that literacy level, arguably, we could improve the number of people getting kicked out of school and then men end up in jail. You know, we often say the limits of my language are the limits of my world, which is Wittgenstein obviously, but the fundamentals of running a school, the fundamentals of running the Boxing Academy. are based upon real high quality teaching, a fabulous curriculum, and a huge focus on literacy.
AC: It's amazing how many young people come to us and we obviously we get some details on what the schools think their levels are and their abilities. And actually they can't read properly. And what they've done is developed a way to get out of being found out for that over the years. It's not always the case, but it's often part of it.
CJ: I agree. We can't, we can't overstate the importance of being taught to read and being taught to me as early as possible. And we've actually we discussed that on a on the podcast we did about prison education we discussed as Danny says, so many prisoners are functionally illiterate. And you know what part did that play and actually, them ending up where they are? And what does what does success for the children in your school look like then? Anna? What are you What are you aiming for
AC: So obviously, we were offering a reduced but totally you know, tailored curriculum a GCSE is enough to get them into college or into whatever they want to do. And the reason it's a reduced number is simply because all of them have got enormous gaps in learning. So there's a huge amount we strongly believe in all of our success in terms of careers and outcomes has back this up, it's better to get five decent grades at the best that you can, but to be sort of getting 10 very, very low grades that won't get you anywhere. So that's just the academic side. The truth is that really what we're doing is we're offering them a chance to turn it all around, turn their experience in education into a positive one. I think that a large number of young people who come to us genuinely do not understand the point of education. I think they probably think that education is an elaborate punishment and so we spend a huge amount of our time bringing them to a point where they understand the point of education, they understand how to be successful in it, and they have aspiration and ambition for the future.
CJ: Yeah. And for those differs young people that come to you as a result of having been excluded from a mainstream school. And you're able to turn them around, you're able to get them to college, able to do to make them see the value of education. Do you think does that then prove that the kind of the exclusion was the right thing to do in the first place? Are you happier they're with you then then they're mainstream school.
AC: That's a really interesting one because somebody had we had an argument about that the other day. I think, I mean, a lot of the young people who come to us are not permanently excluded. They are on a duel registration referral. And I really admire mainstream schools that make decisions like that which because it is in the best interest of the child. I don't know. Some people may not realise but the process of being excluded a uniquely damaging and distressing period. It's a long period. I would really like to see that not being part of this, this landscape. But unfortunately, it is. We have a lot of young people who come to us on that duel placement, but for the ones who have been excluded. I do understand that sometimes schools don't have a choice. In some cases, it has triggered intervention support from agencies that would never have been able to pick up the problems for this child or the child's family sometimes. So there are occasions on which exclusion was the right thing to do. I do believe that not mainstream is never going to be for everybody. And I would like to see the language around using alternative provision, far less. It's talked about in some schools like a flip a punishment. If you don't behave you're going to get sent to somewhere that will sort you out or often. The referral is the right thing for the young person, but it hasn't been presented to them or their family as a positive step. And I don't believe that needs to be the case because actually, it usually proves that they've been moved to us and that they were are in the right place.
CJ: I know what us to hear from a pupil called Sam, she is at university, but she was excluded in her GCSE year and finished time at school as an alternative provider before going to college. So let's have a listen to her experience.
AT: Can you talk a little bit about what happened to you?
Sam: Secondary School I was pretty good for a few years and then all of a sudden around. I say year nine year term my behaviour kind of like declined due to like my own mental health and like issues I had at home. And I did reach out like many times throughout the whole time I was in secondary to my school, and it was always kind of said that help would be put in place and I kind of never was. So then every time I got like excluded for something minor, it's all kind of built up. And then eventually, there was like, quite big incident, a couple of big incident and so sort of in the beginning of Year 11, but that basically kind of rather than kind of helping me, they just sort of sent me to a pupil referral unit for the rest of my school time. But it's I feel like a lot of that could have been prevented if I had the intervention earlier because it wasn't like there weren't aware of things that I had going on. So yeah, that sort of thing.
AT: What was the process of being excluded? Like, did you have a meeting with your head teacher or were your parents involved?
Sam: Yeah. So like after, wherever it happened, I was on exclusion while they decided what to do. And then the decision was made to put me in a pupil referral unit. I didn't really get a lot of help to because obviously, I was taking a lot of GCSE is and most of that wasn't taught and pupil referral units didn't really get any sort of much at all help for my school and how to revise and stuff like that. Like I was kind of just kind of left, hung out to dry a bit I felt
AT: When you were excluded is how did that make you feel?
Sam: It was quite a rejecting sort of feeling because it was I'd been I had been trying to get help for quite a while. So it's kind of like, Yeah, it did. It did definitely. There was it was definitely a feeling of rejection kind of thing. And it felt like but you can't deal with me if that makes sense as I didn't want to deal with me. It just Yeah, didn't feel very nice.
AT: Is there anything in the process that you would have liked to have happen differently?
Sam: I guess just a little bit more support as well. Especially because just kind of thrown into like a pupil referral unit with you know, obviously kids that were like, significantly worse than me. I didn't like I never had any sort of like, violence or anything. You know, I mean, so to be lumped in with kind of kids who did have those sorts of things was obviously it kind of felt like just being pushed aside and like, not able to be amazed and it definitely made me feel a bit lost. So I think it's an extra support would have been would have been a lot better.
AT: Can you tell me a little bit about what your pre was like? Were they helpful? How did they support you?
Sam: Yeah, okay, obviously, it's quite, quite daunting environment and obviously the quality of teaching there isn't isn't great at all, which obviously isn't the fault of the Pru because they have so many kids. There are so many different levels, kids that are in school for quite a while. And the teachers tended to be quite supportive, but there was just more so you know, they'd like to tell the teachers they're doing everything they can with extremely limited funding and limited resources. Like it felt a little bit prison like at times, but like the teachers there obviously there's nothing they can do about it. So I found that to be quite supportive or feels quite daunting and kind of sort of scary at times.
AT: So you took a GCSE as well. Did you go on to further education college?
Sam: Yeah, once I got my results, I wasn't really sure what we're gonna do. Then once I got my results, I actually managed to kind of get a bit lucky I did quite well. So I did end up going on server education, but I'm sort of like most kids, pretty much every kid I went to PRU with didn’t end up doing that. So that kind of just shows that there's not really that much support and pay for these kids. It's kind of like you're just cast aside and then you can't really get back into the mainstream.
AT: You’re at university now?
Sam: Yeah, yeah. No, yeah, but yeah, I do count myself quite lucky in comparison to a lot of my peers in that sense.
AT: Thank you so much for chatting to us
CJ: Danny Sam was talking about the fact that she felt her exclusion could have been prevented. Sounds like that something that you're familiar with?
DC: Yeah. As I've said a few times now, you know, you got to get in school teaching is one of those jobs where things can change very, very, very quickly. So you're going to get incidents from time to time. I would I would never say the headteacher shouldn't have the right to purposely because you know, sometimes things can happen which are exceptionally serious, you know, we are part of society. And we reflect that. Well, as I keep saying By and large, young people are permanently excluded this is the constant infractions of school rules.
CJ: And she said that the excluded gave her a strong sense of rejection. Do you find that children who come to you have that?
AC: Yes. And well I mean, I mentioned briefly earlier about the actual process we reenforcing that way to stun even young people who've been sent to us on a on a dual registration placement so they haven't been excluded in the school is still responsible for them and still has contact with them. They often feel rejected and I'm not surprised she found rejected I thought both way she talked about the PRU was really sad because she was saying you know the quality of teaching is not great, but that's not their fault. And I'm thinking I don't agree with that. I'm sorry. It's just awful that even the child I mean, I know there will be lots of people who mean well in certain places, but for the child to pick up that the quality of teaching is not very good and to make excuses for the play. I think that's heart-breaking. I think it's a really good indicator of what's wrong with how we do this in this country. It just should be alternatives, and they shouldn't be second choices or second best.
AC: AP genuinely isn't rigorous enough. And we don't even know what how many Opie's there are in this country. There's no proper definition of it. Nobody can agree on how it's supposed to work. The funding is extremely patchy. And some of its full, you know, the variation in quality and is it's actually quite extraordinary that we are in this situation I don't know about you are probably Ofsted, I know Ofsted feels a way it's an absolute dog's dinner. But what that means is that the really vulnerable children that nobody cares about, never get and you know, I just think that there needs to be I'd like to see alternative provision, not a second choice or the dumping ground. So the young people we have seriously a lot of them if they haven't been able to turn stuff around at the Boxing Academy and by the way, I'm not pretending they come out perfect, but what we can do is effect that that ignition of that change now that inspiration that understanding how to go about improve things and getting things right. If they hadn't come to us they would have ended up causing society a massive amount of distress and actually money, but I don't see any real drive to try and make it more systematically more even handed and fairer. So yeah, I think that just broadly that is something that we really need to get right.
CJ: Yeah, couldn't agree more and we don't even see we don't have something as basic as registration for all alternative provision you know will be providing pretty serious amounts of education in an alternative setting and not even have to kind of register or be accountable to any to anyone or these are some of the most vulnerable children we have. Yeah, I think Ofsted is called for a long time. For for all alternative provision to be registered and that's such a low bar to go for as net if we can't even do that.
AC: Yeah, I do think it's really good to be shining a light on this we need to stick keep talking about it. What happens is reviews get published and proposals get published or some, you know, think tank does a report and nothing changes. You're still dependent on the right people in the right school on the right day to intervene and try and save a child for whom education isn't working. And it simply should not be left to chance like that. So yeah, I'm just glad that we're still talking about it.
AT: That was really interesting. Thanks for sharing that. But they obviously do a range of things to meet their needs at the school community. It's great.
CJ: Yeah, and I'm really pleased that we've been able to do this podcast and have this discussion. Conversations around exclusions often heated and polarised and it's important to get the views of some people who have been through that process, but also some people who trying to manage it the best they can.
AT: And I think in any debate as ever, it's always important to think about, well, what are the things that we can agree on? It's really important that alternative provision is the best it can be. Everybody wants that to be the case. And it's been good to hear a range of different views and opinions in this piece.
CJ: So thanks, everyone who took part in this podcast and thanks to you, and thanks to everyone who listened. See you next time.