The long-term strategic commitment of the local authority, has enabled a truly joined-up approach to the planning and delivery of AP outreach in Suffolk.
Suffolk County Council (SCC) identified an opportunity for Olive Academies to support its aim to increase inclusion in secondary schools and reduce the number of permanent exclusions through an innovative strategic approach to early intervention and AP outreach.
Our academy in Stowmarket was commissioned to develop and trial a pilot AP outreach programme to meet the needs of secondary school pupils in Suffolk, aligned with the objectives set out in the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan. The programme’s aim is to re-engage students in their learning and, wherever possible, support them and their school to maintain their place in mainstream education.
The long-term strategic commitment from SCC to develop an AP outreach partnership has enabled us to implement a robust approach to the planning and delivery of outreach, which has led to successful, and ongoing, programmes of intervention with students needs firmly at its heart.
This county-wide delivery covers every aspect of our outreach continuum:
We worked collaboratively with mainstream schools and the LA to plan our outreach approach and identified a number of potential challenges for year one along with solutions to overcome these:
- Being responsive to need
Responding to the different needs of each mainstream school required us to create a flexible package that also includes options for delivering continuous professional development and coaching support for mainstream staff.
- Avoiding duplication
Through good communication and coordination between ourselves and the LA, we developed timely and relevant information sharing about schools, pupils and referrals, minimising the risk of duplication.
- Timely and effective identification of need
Essential to the success of the programme, efficient and effective needs assessment is achieved through joint review meetings, clear communication and in-depth triage with the home school.
- Specialist staff capacity
The quality of staff is a crucial component of successful outreach. To balance the involvement of experienced AP staff while also running a full-time AP academy, supplementary roles will be required, including an experienced counsellor and specialist instructor.
- Rural geography
Our academy is in the west of rural Suffolk whilst priority schools are in the north-east. The offer had to be realistic about staff travel and the practicalities of providing part-time or in-reach education at our academy, for some students.
Key components for success
The key components to our successful approach to outreach in Suffolk includes:
Successful AP outreach requires schools, LAs and the AP provider to be clear about need and to match pupils to the right intervention. To ensure the success of the programme, local headteachers were actively involved from the beginning, through meetings in school or with local groups. These meetings helped establish a strong sense of partnership and helped to fine tune the outreach offer. Meanwhile planning also took place with Suffolk County Council.
Clear referral pathways
Our outreach programmes have been planned with schools, ensuring we complement any existing support for inclusion that is already in place. We offer clear guidance about the levels of need suited to referral and ensure early, joint decision-making between ourselves and Suffolk County Council along with clear communication points with the home school.
Central to our outreach approach are Mini-PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) meetings; evidence-informed, participatory needs assessments. Mini-PATHs provide an effective way to identify underlying needs and they work well to re-engage the learner in thinking about their future plans and aspirations. Outreach can then support their short-term goals, which are steps towards the learner fulfilling their longer-term ambitions. The process also builds an effective support network around the learner.
Experienced AP staff
With oversight from our headteachers and senior officers from Suffolk County Council, outreach was delivered by a core team of an experienced senior teacher and staff with SENDCO and safeguarding expertise.
Capacity-building within mainstream schools
We offer coaching and continuous professional development opportunities within our outreach programmes to help build capacity within mainstream schools so that staff can more confidently support pupils alongside outreach intervention.
The benefits of a strategic outreach partnership are clear. We have been able to establish processes with clear lines of communication and joint decision-making to carry out timely and effective needs assessment and a tailored package of support. Specifically:
- We’ve worked with 74 pupils through outreach in Suffolk.
- For more than 50 of these students, participation in the outreach programme has greatly reduced their risk of exclusion and/or suspension.
- All pupils are more confidently engaged with learning following their engagement in the programme
- Those pupils in years 9 and 10 are working towards agreed goals for post-16 study.
- We have also delivered intensive support for inclusive strategies at five secondary schools.
- Continuous Professional Development and/or coaching was provided for staff in 14 primary and 12 secondary schools on themes such as Zones of Regulation and improved understanding of ADHD and trauma behaviours.
Director of Academies, Olive Academies Trust
The close working relationship developed with Suffolk County Council has enabled Olive Academies to develop a strategic approach to AP outreach in the area, successfully overcoming some of the main barriers to effective outreach thanks to a truly joined-up delivery model with early intervention and needs identification at its heart. We’re proud to have been involved in this successful pilot and delighted to continue to support even more young people and their families as we continue our AP outreach work in partnership with Suffolk County Council.
For more information about our outreach partnerships or any aspect of Olive Academies' AP outreach offer, please contact us:
T: 01223 375514
In line with the DfE’s SEND and AP Improvement Plan, Olive Academies is committed to working with local mainstream schools to help them better support pupils before exclusion is considered.Find out more about our approach