Solutions: The three phases of a successful internal AP

Amid a growing capacity crisis in AP, Shazad Ali describes the interventions and reintegration work underpinning his school’s internal provision

Amid a growing capacity crisis in AP, Shazad Ali describes the interventions and reintegration work underpinning his school’s internal provision

13 Feb 2024, 5:00

We are facing a national crisis. Rates of suspensions and permanent exclusions have increased drastically. Students who have been permanently excluded have nowhere to go, with alternative provisions and PRU’s full to capacity. Meanwhile, many schools feel helpless: They lack the resources to support their most vulnerable students, but know the dire consequences of a permanent exclusion in these circumstances.

At Coop Academy Grange, students who are at the risk of a permanent exclusion or require additional social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) support are referred to the internal alternative provisions we have newly established. These two bespoke trauma-informed and nurture-based provisions are called Base & Bridge.

Phase one

The Base provision is an onsite internal alternative provision which is situated on the school grounds. Students who are referred via a referral process made by the pastoral teams, heads of year, attendance and safeguarding teams access the Base provision as ‘phase one’ of our alternative provision-based intervention.

Here, students access a bespoke timetable which includes maths, English, science, PSHE and RE. The timetable is also combined with afternoon interventions to support students’ SEMH needs. These interventions include boxing, cooking, climbing, forest schools, hair and beauty, motor vehicles, electrics and plumbing, and mindfulness interventions.

The Base provides students with respite while it establishes structure and routines in the lives of young people who really need it. On arrival, students get a free breakfast and staff have the opportunity to do wellbeing check-ins before the day starts.

The Base operates from two modulars and is separated into two nurture classes. It’s designed to support 12 to 16 students with five members of staff, including teaching staff, behaviour support workers and alternative curriculum officers. All are equipped with crisis prevention intervention (CPI) training which focuses on de-escalation techniques and trauma-informed practice.

Students who access the Base remain in the bespoke provisions for 12 weeks (one term). If they are successful with phase one of the reintegration model, they will then integrate into the Coop Academy Grange Bridge provision.

Phase two

The Bridge is the vital second phase of our reintegration model. It follows the same staffing model and the same timetable structure, but it is situated within the mainstream building. Here, students have access to a hub consisting of three classrooms and a breakout area.

The Bridge caters for 20-24 students with seven staff: three alternative provision teaching specialists and four support staff. Students continuing to access their education in the Bridge provision are taught the same schemes of work as the rest of the school. This ensures that when they are ready to fully reintegrate back into mainstream classrooms, there are no gaps in their learning and they are equipped to progress alongside their peers.

Phase three

After a successful 24 weeks in the Base and Bridge provisions, students return to mainstream lessons. The internal AP team provide mainstream teachers with a reintegration document for each student which contains a summary of their time in Base and Bridge as well as detailed advice and strategies for how best to integrate and support them in their classes.

However, we don’t launch students directly into a full timetable of mainstream lessons. Instead, phase three of their reintegration is a phased return with a bespoke timetable. Some of their lessons are in the mainstream school and some at the Bridge. We review and adjust the timetable each week to allow each student to build up their time in mainstream classes according to their individual needs.

The time frame for this phase is six to eight weeks. For any number of reasons, a student’s reintegration might suffer a setback or fail. In response, we can extend their time in the right phase to support them. The key is to ensure we remove barriers to learning and equip them with the skills they need to resume their journey.

The Base & Bridge provision was only launched in September, but it has already had a tremendous impact. Fifteen students have already integrated into phase two. Wellbeing is palpably better, the students are making great progress, and not a single suspension has been issued in the provision.

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