Our approach to outreach

Through strong partnerships with LAs and local mainstream schools, our specialist AP staff develop bespoke outreach programmes that improve outcomes for marginalised children and young people.

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The DfE's SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan calls for a shift to earlier intervention, with AP outreach at its heart. Olive Academies has supported local mainstream schools and pupils through AP outreach since 2019. Our well-established approach is centred around strong partnerships with a focus on individual needs and early intervention, in line with the DfE's three tiered model of inclusive practice.

Three tier model re worked

The core purpose of AP outreach is to support vulnerable pupils, such as those at risk of suspension or exclusion, to re-engage with their learning so that they can successfully maintain their place in their home school. Our programmes are flexible and tailored to offer the best reintegration opportunities to learners.

We also support whole-school inclusion strategies and build capacity within the system through effective delivery of targeted coaching so that mainstream staff feel more confident and better equipped to provide support that meets a pupil’s individual needs thereby enabling them to thrive within their existing school.

In 2021, informed by our AP outreach learning and practice to date, we created the Olive Outreach Continuum. The model is underpinned by a theory of change analysis and provides an adaptable reference framework when shaping local AP outreach interventions and pathways with partner schools and commissioners. Since then, our continuum has been adopted by outreach providers nationally.

Trust overall outreach continuum
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The challenges

Sustainable and impactful AP outreach has to address several challenges including:

  • Funding / commissioning

AP funding is usually on a ‘per pupil place’ basis and commissioning focuses on full-time provision and staffing. Additional resources are required to fund the delivery of AP outreach, so that capacity can be commissioned in AP schools for short-term intervention groups, coaching support in mainstream schools and ‘dual roll’ arrangements.

  • Staffing and capacity

AP outreach requires staff with specialist AP teaching skills and leadership qualities. It is hard to secure these high quality staff for short-term programmes of work, with most expecting full-year contracts as a minimum.

  • Mainstream school engagement

Engagement is needed from an early stage and, preferably, as part of a formal partnership. AP outreach staff can then support whole-school inclusion strategies as well as referrals into early intervention. A firm commitment from the home school to be actively involved is vital for successful reintegration.

  • Evidence-based approaches

The goals for AP outreach are clear, but there is limited evidence nationally about the most effective approaches.

  • Triage and pre-assessment

AP outreach is at its best when pro-active, inclusive and aligned with the pupils’ needs. Thorough needs identification is essential to connect the right pupil with the right support, often informed by the SEND graduated approach. Joint planning with the home school is important, with clear, agreed steps towards reintegration.

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Developing solutions

Below are examples of progress we have made with flexible solutions that suit the needs of the localities we operate within.

  • Funding / commissioning

We’ve experienced successful arrangements of combining core funding from the LA commissioner with ‘per pupil’ payments from the home school. In Thurrock this has included support from the Crime Prevention Partnership as well as the LA.

  • Staffing and capacity

Our core staffing model for our AP outreach programmes includes leadership capacity, a substantive teacher leading the day-to-day programme plus, depending on the needs, part-time roles such as counsellor and outdoor or vocational instructor. As a result of Suffolk County Council commissioning 12-months of AP outreach provision, we’ve made progress with outreach staffing capacities in Suffolk as we have been able to confidently commit staff to outreach for a full year, in this county-wide approach.

  • Mainstream school engagement

Joint planning and weekly updates with the home school are a core element of our AP outreach provision. Good exit planning and follow-up have helped nearly all students re-engage with their mainstream learning.

  • Evidence-based approaches

Using the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire and Me and My School questionnaire during our needs assessment provides a robust baseline for emotional wellbeing impacts to report alongside education measures such as attendance and engagement with learning.

  • Triage and pre-assessment

The referral pathway developed between our Suffolk academy and Suffolk County Council offers clear communication and decision-making. With the mini-PATHS approach a central component of our AP outreach offer, these participatory meetings involve student, parent / carer and professionals to achieve a thorough assessment of need and result in agreeing priorities with the learner.

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The impacts

  • We have worked with more than 35 mainstream schools and successfully supported over 140 pupils through our AP outreach programmes to date.
  • Our staff have delivered Continuous Professional Development and coaching to 26 mainstream schools to date.
  • Attendance for our AP outreach programmes is high and we're seeing pupils grow in confidence as they develop social skills and improve their emotional regulation.

Adam Tedesco

Deputy CEO, Olive Academies Trust

We are proud to have developed a successful AP outreach model that delivers a continuum of support for pupils, while being flexible to meet the needs of individual commissioners. Our strong partnerships with LAs and mainstream school leaders has been integral, and remains to be a key component, in delivering effective programmes of support to secure positive pupil outcomes.

For more information about any aspect of Olive Academies' AP outreach work, please contact us:

T: 01708 982624

E: info@oliveacademies.org.uk

Our commitment

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 outreach provision