How can you support the Alternative Provisions across your School Games Area?

Posted 9th April 2021

With 5 national Development Coaches being appointed to look specifically at engaging Alternative Provision (AP) in the School Games and supporting the School Games workforce, Laura Rookard and Katie Jones blog here about some of the ideas they have about how to start engagement.

How can you support the Alternative Provisions across your School Games Area?

Firstly, find out where they are as they might not be obvious and show on your dashboard. In our experience, every School Games Area will have some form of alternative provision; whether it be a standalone facility or delivered in house by mainstream schools. For example, Sandbach School is a mainstream school that has within it a short term Alternative Provision base for children across South Cheshire and North Staffordshire. As the URN is the same, this wouldn’t show on your dashboard.

Top tips to support:

  • Contact your LEA, Active Partnership or other local agencies who have some remit that links them to Alternative Provisions they will be able to provide you with local information. 
  • Pick up the phone and talk to your mainstream SENCOs or pastoral staff as they will be able to tell you about how they access AP for their students, where they are based and may even be able to share a contact or make an introduction. 
  • Be collaborative – lots of APs share URNs and cross over School Games areas, so talk to other SGOs and see if you can work together on an approach to engage.

Understanding what your Alternative Provisions needs are and how to get that information.

  • Talk to the staff in AP, find out what their current PE, school sport and physical activity provision is and what their vision of it would be. 
  • Pupil voice is so important here. Can you arrange to talk to a sample of students about their previous experiences when they were in mainstream, and the positive and negatives of that experience. Ask what they would like now…take time to really find out what floats their boat! 
  • It’s important to understand the nature of the AP (e.g. hospital school, PRU, AP free schools) and gain insight so you can develop the right offer for the AP, similar to what we all do daily for our schools.

From our experiences, after speaking with pupils in an AP it became apparent that the pupils felt they weren’t allowed to go to events because they were not trusted and wanted to be able to interact with others. In fact, what we discovered was that the events they were being invited to were not appropriate because they were all large team events and the cohort within the AP was substantially smaller.  As a result, smaller team events will be implemented going forwards which are more suitable for the APs needs.

Our advice to other SGOs as they consider how to engage with their APs is:

  • Use your existing relationships to find out information – head of PE, SENCOs (mainstream), other SGOs, county PE groups etc
  • Don’t give up at the first hurdle, if a school doesn’t reply to an email, pick up the phone, or pop your head in and arrange a meeting
  • Use other hooks, leadership opportunities, additional funding opportunities locally to provide CPD, coaching and equipment 
  • Be explicit that what you have to offer is FREE and comes from a national funded programme with a national network
  • Link up with your YST Inclusion School for support.

Call to action:

  • Make time for your Alternative Provision schools! From feedback they often feel overlooked and will really value the time you invest to understand the needs of their pupils and the opportunities you could offer them. 
  • Access the Engaging with Alternative Provisions resource
  • Youth Voice Toolkit – a great starting point for soliciting student voice 
  • Use the Chatzeez Cards resource to facilitate pupil voice
  • Make it a priority, identify what you want to achieve in the next few terms in partnership with your Alternative Provision. Work out how you are going to do it and what support you need! 
  • Contact the Development Coach Team for more support via your regional support team.

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