Year 11 presents a cliff-edge for many pupils who have been excluded from school. Alternative provision schools are funded only up to year 11 – despite the 2015 increase in the participation age. With almost half of excluded pupils failing to sustain a place in education, employment or training, more must be done to support them.
For excluded pupils who do not manage to sustain a positive destination after their GCSEs, the government should fund specialist sixth forms. IntegratED research found that 9 in 10 schools for excluded children see a demand and would offer post-16 provision if funded to do so.
The government should commission an evaluation of the best ways to keep previously excluded children in education, employment or training. They could begin by evaluating the learnings from the £7m emergency post-16 transition funding.
One in two children leaving alternative provision is NEET immediately after their GCSEs.
One in twenty children leaving mainstream schools is NEET immediately after their GCSEs.
In every part of the country, pupils in alternative provision are less likely to stay in education, employment or training after their GCSEs than their peers in mainstream schools.
In the worst performing local authority, Bedford, only 34% of excluded pupils sustain a positive post-16 destination. The worst area for mainstream pupils is Knowsley, at 86%.
The top-ranking local authority for excluded pupils is South Gloucestershire, where 78% of those leaving alternative provision sustain a positive destination after their GCSEs.
“We maintain contact with every child who leaves our school for two and a half years. That continued relationship is vital to their transition to adulthood.”
In 2015, half of all pupils at Bexley’s pupil referral unit (PRU) were NEET after finishing school.
When Horizons Academy Bexley replaced the PRU in 2017, they implemented a careers and transitions programme that has brought the rate down to one in twelve.
The programme supports over 100 pupils every year and includes 1-2-1 liaison, home visits, cross-borough coordination and careers signposting.
“It is extraordinary that the increase in the participation age was not accompanied by statutory duties to provide post-16 alternative provision.”
“There is a clear will in the sector to provide post-16 education to pupils in alternative provision, and a clear need on the part of pupils,” reported the Commons Education Committee in their 2018 inquiry. It urged the government to fund not only outreach and support to FE colleges, but also post-16 alternative provision.
There are just 52 sixth forms for excluded children in England
There are 12 sixth forms for excluded children in London and the South East, and 1,333 pupils finishing Year 11 in alternative provision
There are three sixth forms for excluded children in the North West, and 1,352 pupils finishing Year 11 in alternative provision.
“I really never believed I’d ever get to where I am, which is a motivated and driven young lady. I wouldn’t have done it without their help.”
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme offers a pathway to higher education for 30 pupils who have had a disrupted educational journey, at TBAP 16-19 Academic AP Academy in Hammersmith and Fulham. As post-16 alternative provision is non-statutory, the programme depends on the commitment of students’ local authorities.
In recent years, students have progressed to Applied psychology at Bedford, Fine Art (foundation) at UEL and Psychology and Criminology at Kingston.
“There are students who simply are not ready at 16 to face the challenges of a large and relatively impersonal college or school.”
By providing alternative provision from age 14 to 19, Wac Arts College supported 82% of their post-16 students into further education or employment last year.
Destinations include Guildhall School of Music and Drama, The Drama Centre (UAL), Rose Bruford, Middlesex University, Central School of Speech and Drama and the Brit School.