New research network to improve outcomes for children in Alternative Provision education
An Alternative Provision Research Network will be launched at the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University – bringing together academic experts and practitioners across the country to improve the lives of children in Alternative Provision (AP) education.
Led by Professor Damien Page and Professor Rachel Lofthouse at Leeds Beckett, the new network will begin with an online event - held on Wednesday 2 December, from 19:00 – 20.30 – for anyone with an interest in AP to share their ideas for the network.
To register for the online event – which already has over 200 attendees registered - please complete the registration form.
Professor Page explained: “AP is education provided outside of mainstream school for pupils who may have been excluded or have needs that can’t be met within the mainstream. Run by Local Authorities, as part of Multi Academy Trusts and sometimes Free Schools, AP includes settings such as pupil referral units, hospital education and schools for children and young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.
“AP is very neglected in terms of policy, in the public consciousness, and in research. To address this, we aim to create a national – then international – network to build a critical mass of new, applied, collaborative research to boost outcomes for children within the AP sector.
“The network will also provide an effective means of professional development for practitioners; and we hope that it will raise the profile of a sector that is too often ignored.”
The Network will be led by a steering group made up of practitioners and researchers across the wide spectrum of AP settings within the sector in the UK.
Together, the Alternative Provision Research Network will:
• Identify the key areas of AP in need of research.
• Create collaborative research groups of academics and practitioners within settings to conduct joint projects.
• Publish the findings in an open access working paper series - with articles written by the practitioners and edited by academics and an editorial board from the AP sector.
• Run an annual conference to showcase good practice.
Some of the key issues surrounding AP that the network will address include: family engagement, improving communication and family support during exclusions and managed moves, meeting the needs of children within limited resources, creating capacity for regular home visits, a sector-wide sharing of good practice, staff wellbeing in extremely demanding work, effective inter-agency working, staff retention, working with excluding schools, personalising teaching and learning, and approaches to behaviour management.
Professor Page’s recent research into family engagement in AP – published in the British Educational Research Journal (BERA) this month - has highlighted the need for a dedicated network to generate collaborative research into this important and under-researched sector, whilst also providing opportunities to share best practice and offer professional development to practitioners.
Professor Page said: “My new research shows that family engagement in AP is only effective when it meets the complex needs of the parents in the community. For AP, this needs to be more than generic parents’ evenings and a Parental Teacher Association. It needs to be deep engagement that understands the complexity of lives that are often experienced within contexts of deprivation and difficult educational histories that present barriers to engagement.
“Through the new network, we aim to investigate this area further – along with many other areas that we will define together within the new steering group.”