Featured Story: The Lost Boys of Liverpool

One of the biggest things that frustrates me and my staff on a daily basis is that no matter how hard we work, how much we support our pupils, no matter how much resilience we try to grow in our pupils the sad fact is that despite our, their and their parents best efforts not to mention the continuing voluntary support we provide for our pupils leaving our school, a large proportion will struggle not to be NEET before November.

Alternative provision at our school includes a combination of nurture, outdoor education, specific literacy and numeracy intervention, commissioned alternative provision bespoke to the individual, therapeutic interventions based on our THRIVE curriculum (would recommend this to all) and all this weighted heavily on parental engagement (again we have parental training to support with the THRIVE curriculum).

Our school works on relationships. Alternative provision is only part of our school offer and where we can, we support pupils coming back into the main school for access to the GCSE curriculum. We meet and greet on the door, we tailor banter to engage them, we take the time to get to know them and in some cases that can be 5 years of getting to know them but the data for EHC pupils with SEMH in their plan makes for dire reading. Many of our pupils have complex needs but due to a lack of early intervention SEMH is how they have been labelled and this is a label they can’t shake off. One of the discussions at the AP conference tables was about supporting timetables with work experience from the Aspire AP and I would be very keen to see how this works.

The investigation research into alternative provisions published on the 17th Oct 2018 shows that the majority of pupils in AP provisions are boys from disadvantaged backgrounds. The overarching fact is that parents and SEMH students continue to hit significant barriers to sustaining a successful place post-16, therefore the lack of a suitable post-16 provision for these boys leaves them vulnerable and the data shows that a large majority will be involved in criminal activity within the first year of being NEET.

The future for our boys includes us continuing to fight to open a KS5 provision, continuing to challenge the LA to try our pilot scheme of ‘prepare to learn’ (happy to share if they take it up), increasing the number of supported internships, developing our work experience offer in school and somehow continuing to support our boys and their families at their placements on a voluntary basis. We continue to apply for funding to increase our capacity and develop a workforce that can cater for the ever increasing needs of our pupils to deliver a post 16 curriculum.

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