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Last Chance Academy

Late to the party I know, but this evening I finally got round to watching the Panorama documentary “Last Chance Academy”, which was shown back in August. The programme follows a handful of loveable rogues who are being taught at LEAP, the online alternative provision that is part if the Baverstock Academy in Birmingham.

The academy is in a deprived area, and LEAP is housed in a separate building with a separate entrance and separate staff. I’ve seen this sort of provision in varying forms in other schools, but the separation here is at a higher level than ones I’ve seen, which have all either been housed within the school building or staffed by the same staff.

I think that this sort of provision can work really well. The most disaffected learners can be taught in smaller groups, gaining a highly level of support and attention which often meets their specific needs. Personalised programmes can be implemented and back in the main school those without the same level of additional needs can enjoy and progress in their lessons further as they will be free from disruption. This looks to be a win win scenario for all involved.

I can imagine some of the arguments though, “how comes he gets rewarded for being naughty by getting half days?” etc. These would stem from a lack of understanding of the complexities at work, and hopefully through education could be tackled.

What does tickle me though, is the branding. These policies are often (and definitely at Baverstock) called “inclusion” policies. The head of Baverstock explain his purpose to be “I’m against exclusion as every child should be entitled to a mainstream education.” The obviously flaw being that they aren’t receiving a mainstream education and are being excluded from, not included in, the classes their peers are attending. I think the branding stems from the aim that these provision provide a temporary respite from mainstream while pupils are helped with their specific needs before being reintegrated back in.

I enjoyed the documentary, and see a great benefit to this type of provision. I was pleased to see the results were positive for the pupils involved. These are challenging pupils, who have deep issues, and are getting a good education despite that.

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  1. October 8, 2014 at 9:18 am

    “flaw” not “floor”

    • October 8, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Noted, and corrected. Thanks

  2. inspector
    October 8, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    respite not restbite!

    • October 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Indeed. Major no proof read fail!

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