iAchieve is often used by schools to support an alternative provision setting. This gives us a broad overview of how schools across the England and Wales are approaching their alternative provision. We have some useful insights to share, whether your school is using iAchieve or not.
In this context, we are defining alternative provision as education arranged outside of mainstream, by your school, to try to prevent exclusions or to re-engage students in education. Students may be in alternative provision for reasons such as school exclusion, behaviour issues, school refusal, or short- or long-term illness. In our experience, it can sometimes be challenging for alternative provision settings to cater for such varying needs and schools often require a range of solutions.
Only around 1 per cent of young people in state alternative provision receive five good GCSEs. Furthermore, education committee chairman Robert Halfon said, “Students in alternative provision are far less likely to achieve good exam results, find well-paid jobs or go on to further study.” This is something we are passionate about changing, which is why all the courses contained within the iAchieve packages lead to real progression routes. We know that schools are always interested in good alternative provision solutions, so we’re offering our observations on components that boost a well-rounded provision offering.
Success doesn’t just have to mean improved grades. When it comes to Alternative Provision there are many other measures that can be used:
- Improved school attendance
- Reduction to disruptive behaviours
- Improvement to student self-esteem, confidence, motivation
- Positive progression routes
Student moral can be significantly improved by the feeling of success, as can that of school staff involved in alternative provision solutions.
High standards and expectations build student aspirations. Examples of how to set high standards could be setting clear behaviour requirements, trusting students with small tasks or by giving them manageable goals. Being set small goals and achieving them, allows students to “collect successes.” This can be really motivational – teaching them that they can be the driver of their own success.
Research has shown that learning something new can be directly related to happiness; it releases dopamine in the brain, known as the “reward molecule”. Engaging students who are in alternative provision with something new, can boost their morale and build self-esteem. Vocational qualifications are a great option for providing students with something new. They can break down barriers to learning and help young people to believe in themselves as learners. iAchieve’s engaging online courses provide a platform for this to happen.
iAchieve schools see an increase in motivation and engagement from their students. Our online platform provides an appealing workspace for students, which empowers them to take control of their own learning. It provides the relevant qualification information in manageable units which are broken down into pages, giving students achievable sections of learning. The platform can be accessed from any digital device, at any time, giving students an important sense of autonomy.
One of the best ways to engage students in alternative provision is by speaking with them to understand their needs, thoughts, and feelings when it comes to learning. The views of young people in alternative provision can sometimes be lost. This approach can provide a unique opportunity to understand student perspective and plan your provision accordingly.
There is also a chance to develop pupil voice, empowering their thoughts and feelings. Allowing students to have a sense of power over their learning can feed into their self-belief, as mentioned previously, and can build mutual respect between the alternative provision lead and the student. Allowing young people a degree of autonomy or choice in their learning promotes participation in the building of a community, with a shared purpose and positive social relationships, increasing the likelihood of their engagement. Being given appropriate choices enhances students’ capacity to act independently and make better decisions.
iAchieve makes it easy to run vocational qualifications alongside mainstream GCSEs, giving teachers and learners the choice about which qualification is right for each individual. Schools can select from up to 5 different subjects, allowing your school to offer students the opportunity to choose. Schools use iAchieve to support a varied and flexible curriculum related to learners’ interests and capabilities.
The provision of a range of different forms of accreditation, including GCSE equivalent options, offers more opportunities for students to achieve, particularly for those pupils with less academic aptitudes. This can also be a beneficial approach for students who have been out of mainstream school for some time due to issues with engagement and/or maintaining regular attendance.
iAchieve can provide a link with mainstream education, where appropriate. The vocational courses within our offering can often be run alongside GCSE courses such Health and Fitness with GCSE P.E. Furthermore, you can use the practical elements of vocational courses such as Hospitality and Catering to offer students in alternative provision the opportunity to join mainstream practical lessons, improving their access to school facilities, building trust and slowly reintroducing the mainstream setting. Reintegration to mainstream school can reduce pupils’ feelings of rejection and isolation.
Introducing online resources can also be really great for eliminating the barriers of pupils with access issues, as well as non-attenders who could still be encouraged to access their learning remotely. This remote access could be built on, to encourage non-attenders to return to school, reassured by a familiar online learning space. Online resources also give students control and responsibility over their own learning, feeding into their feeling of empowerment.
Cranbury College, an iAchieve school, explained their experience with students who have access issues, “with the use of iAchieve, to support remote learning, we have been able to extend our options offer more than ever before, because we don’t have to have learners on site. Whatever the future brings, delivering with iAchieve in this way, means that our curriculum offer can be interactive, adaptable, and the learners can talk to teachers in context of the subject”. Read the full case study here.