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Developing Internal Alternative Provision? How The Difference Inclusive Leadership Course supported our school


The Inclusive Leadership Course is a national programme for mainstream senior leaders of inclusion – providing a diagnostic lens to enable bespoke, sustained school improvement. To date, 250+ senior leaders from across 65 local Authorities and MATs have attended the sessions. 

The following case study from Headteacher Jake Capper shows how the Inclusive Leadership Course supported Marvell College, a secondary school in Hull:

When I first started as headteacher at Marvell College, there were some initial challenges. It had received a ‘good’ grade from Ofsted and the school was moving in the right direction. But the school had been without a headteacher for a number of months and some of the relationships between staff and pupils  in school were strained.

One of the challenges involved year 6 transition. Those pupils who presented significant issues centred around their behaviour and ability to cope in a busy mainstream secondary. In some instances, these students were being commissioned straight into alternative provision (AP) without a chance.

It was at this stage – when we were seeking answers to emerging problems – that I joined The Difference Inclusive Leadership Course along with James,  our AHT for Inclusion.

The course helped us in lots of ways, but here’s how it supported our approach to internal AP:

Applying a clear framework

Day one of the Inclusive Leadership Course, provided an ‘Inclusion Framework’ – a structure and rigour to think about whole school inclusion. We took and it applied it across the whole school- and used it as a set of principles for shaping our internal AP.

We now focus on relational practices – on the importance of strong, caring, positive relationships with staff.. We use Internal AP as a time to repair and strengthen relationships with key staff so when students move back into the mainstream there is a positive foundation for learning

Our Internal AP

Originally, we had intended to set up our internal provision away from the main building. Then we met Mohamed at The Difference, who linked us up with Dunraven School in London. This completely changed our way of thinking about AP.

We came to understand the huge impact of exclusion on young people’s lives, and how important it was for them to feel they weren’t being rejected – and that physical spaces play a part in this. Rather than excommunicating them to a far off building, the provision had to take a central location right at the heart of things.

Now the provision is part of our pastoral centre. It provides a base which supports students to access the curriculum at a time and pace which meets their needs at that particular time. 

The ILC helped us explore the benefits of moving away from a deficit-based approach and instead to support all staff to develop asset-based practice, a key module on the course. The provision shifted from being viewed as a sanction but rather of support and understanding. Using asset-based practice, staff involved with students worked to identify their strengths and build on them gradually reintegrating them back into a full curriculum. 

Every week, we have a triage meeting where our deputy head for pastoral, our attendance officer and our SENDCo all meet. That meeting is about who might need support in the provision.

It’s been a real success, and the staff are very supportive of the provision. 

More importantly, we do everything we can to keep our students in mainstream. That means that when they do access alternative provision, we have the full support of parents and carers.

Interested? Find out more about the inclusive Leadership Course click here or get in touch now.

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