This report sets out the key issues relating to alternative provision since the review, which took place in 2017/18 and was published in June 2018 – almost three years ago.
The Assistant Director, Education and SEND introduced the report which set out the key issues relating to alternative provision (AP) since the review, which took place in 2017/18 and was published in June 2018. Three key changes were highlighted; the accelerated turnover in secondary alternative provision; the provision of outreach support and the significant reduction in exclusions. He added that the focus for the Council was to address the lack of primary alternative provision.
Members then raised a number of questions and comments which included:
· Outreach work – in response to a question about the outreach work by Will Adams into mainstream schools, the Assistant Director explained that there had been a small amount of this to date at Key Stage 4 but focus had mainly been in preparing staff for this approach. He added that the review had found there were insufficient AP places, however, neither Will Adams or The Rowans had been running at full capacity and there had been no turnover in AP to reintegrate young people back into mainstream. Therefore work had been done to change the approach across Medway, to challenge schools to support young people and their families to avoid exclusions and to reintegrate young people from AP back to mainstream.
· Communication – officers confirmed that relationships with AP providers was good and they were on board with the developing picture for AP in Medway.
· GFC school – the Assistant Director, Education and SEN confirmed that the provision was referred to in the report but had been anonymised. The Council would be continuing to commission places with the provision and it was the main independent provider of AP for Medway.
· Potential increased demand – concern was raised that due to the pandemic and children being out of school for long periods there may be greater disruptive behaviour which could lead to more exclusions and a greater demand for AP provision. In response, the Assistant Director, Education and Schools confirmed that the process for permanent exclusions was tough and the Council would continue to challenge schools. If there was a rise in exclusion, one implication would be that there would need to be maintained turnover of reintegration. Equally, he added that if necessary the local authority had powers, either directly or through the Regional Schools Commissioner, to direct schools to take a previously excluded pupil, which would be used if necessary.
· Reintegration – in response to a question about the time frame for reintegration to occur, it was confirmed that this varied depending on the needs of the individual child but on average it would be around two terms.
· Primary provision – it was confirmed that the new primary AP provision, The Beeches, would not be open until 2023. A working group was currently running with Primary Headteachers and it was hoped an offsite temporary provision, with outreach support would be piloted in the summer and ready for September 2021.
The Committee noted the report
In accordance with Council rule 12.6, Councillors Howcroft-Scott, Johnson and Osborne requested that their votes in favour be recorded.