From education to employment

Best practice examples of helping students in alternative provision transition into post-16 destinations

Best practice examples of transition support for year 11 students in alternative provision (AP). Case studies on post-16 transition. 

This guidance has been developed to help those in alternative provision (AP) settings to support their year 11 students as they transition into post-16 destinations and avoid becoming not in education, employment or training (NEET).

These best practice examples are provided by alternative provision settings that supported their year 11 students using the 2020 Alternative Provision Transition Fund.*

Multi-agency working to support students

The AP setting made sure each learner received the individual, personalised support they needed to successfully access education, training or employment. To do this all relevant stakeholders were involved from the start.

The AP setting started with the learners themselves, offering additional independent careers advice (in a format that was appropriate for them). This was provided through one-to-one meetings at the AP, phone calls or online meetings. Based on discussions from those meetings, the AP created personalised plans for each learner and shared these with appropriate school staff and parents and carers using the Grofar platform.

Since time was taken previously to build good relationships with parents and carers, it meant that they felt comfortable discussing options and barriers to post-16 destinations with staff members. All information was then recorded in a live spreadsheet designed by the careers lead, which meant that it could be updated by relevant staff whenever needed. This was also shared with the independent careers advisor employed by the school so that they could access the most up-to-date information as needed.

Once the AP had the basic information about where learners would like to go as a post-16 option, individual plans were created and a team of staff pulled together to deliver this support. This team included the careers lead (senior leadership team member), careers administrator, 3 one-to-one tutors, an independent careers advisor and the NEET advisor from the local authority. The responsibility for learners was shared between the careers lead, careers administrator and one-to-one tutors.

The AP contacted the city council NEET service and identified the local NEET officer. At their initial meeting the AP shared information about learners for whom there were concerns, and the NEET officer was able to offer additional support to those families. The NEET officer also shared information with the careers lead which improved the support the AP was able to offer other learners and their families. The AP also worked with the Virtual School and other educational establishments in the area to ensure that any learners that were dual registered received the same level of support.

The AP is working more strategically and now has a much more streamlined process to support learners. It has extended its careers advice and support offer and will be including the following:

  • ensuring all learners in Key Stage 3 and 4 receive a lesson per week on employability skills and work on their Grofar Profile so they have this available to them when applying for post-16 placements
  • developing the relationships with the most often used local colleges and training providers and have named contacts at these settings
  • developing an alumni network so that future contact with learners and families can continue

Transition mentor supports a young person to continue education

A young person wanted to apply for a course at college but, after some initial questions, they admitted they were just applying for the course as they didn’t know what else to do. The young person was looking for guidance on their options and for support in the next academic year.

The transition mentor met the young person face-to-face and, during their first meeting, they talked generally about careers and the experience they both had, the young person’s achievements and potential career options. The transition mentor reassured the young person that it was normal not to know exactly what you might want to do after Year 11. The mentor set a goal for the young person to complete specific career quizzes before the next meeting. The transition mentor also helped the young person to complete a MAPP Assessment to assess any wider needs and barriers to progression.

During their second meeting, the young person was surprised that the results of the career quizzes consistently suggested a career path as a chef. The transition mentor helped the young person to explore which skills and experience were required to become a chef as this was what the young person wanted to focus on. The transition mentor supported the young person to make applications for 2 colleges offering catering courses, including one as a back-up plan.

While the young person waited for their GCSE results, the mentor suggested gaining experience in the sector and supported the young person to create a CV and apply for jobs. The young person successfully gained a job in a café in the summer before starting college.

The transition mentor provided in-person support on GCSE results day and continued with regular check-ins through telephone calls and text messages before the young person started college. Their conversations covered preparing for the first day of term, travelling to college, available bursaries, equipment required for the course and how the young person was feeling.

The mentor contacted the young person on the first day of term to find out how it went. They agreed to schedule fortnightly check-ins to discuss the young person’s progression, mental health and workload from college. During the national lockdown these check-ins became weekly.

The young person has been supported to continue the college course and is planning to stay in education and progress to the next level of the catering course.

The young person said: ‘I’m glad I found a course and career that I am passionate about. The most important thing that I learnt is that it is okay to have support and to have help from others. If I hadn’t met my adviser I would not have applied for the course, and I probably would have dropped out of college by now. My adviser gave me the motivation that I needed to go to college and to find a job.’

Existing staff member expands their role to provide transition support for year 11s

A specific member of staff was selected to act as a transition coach for the autumn term to provide advice and guidance to all the year 11 leavers. The coach worked with all leavers to identify their destination and establish whether they had been offered full-time or part-time placements. In addition this was cross-referenced with the training provider, employer or education establishment.

The coach spoke to all year 11s to find out who required additional time to complement their part-time timetable, who hadn’t secured a destination, and who was on track to attend full-time education or employment. Year 11s accessing full-time education, or in employment, were offered regular one-to-one coaching and mentoring which included support visits to the college or training provider and regular communication with the provider. The constant interaction meant that any issues could be resolved quickly before they escalated into potential reasons for placements falling through.

Year 11s who were not accessing full-time education or employment were offered up to 2 days a week at the AP’s newly refurbished building. Here year 11s could access a bespoke curriculum focussed on improving their literacy and numeracy, personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) and preparing them for adulthood.

The goal of the coach was to ensure every leaver had something in place or, if they didn’t, to help them get the right support to achieve this. This approach made a real difference for one of the year 11s who had applied to college but changed her mind. The coach helped her look at a range of more local and bespoke options as she did not like college and felt overwhelmed. The coach supported her to complete an application and attend an interview with a local training provider who then offered her a vocational-based learning opportunity.

This prevented her from becoming NEET and she believes that, without this support, she would have just dropped out of college and not looked for anything else on her own.

She said, ‘I would like to say a big thank you to the staff, I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the help and support they provided for me.’

Supporting a student through a bespoke offer

A special educational needs (SEN) learning and engagement practitioner was re-deployed to design and create bespoke packages for students who had education health and care plans (EHCP). One of the students was from an out-of-county secure children’s home, was a child looked after (CLA), had a EHCP and was involved with child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). They also had a structured assessment of violence risk in youth (SAVRY) plan.

The practitioner led a gradual process of building a positive relationship and trust with this student on a one-to-one basis before introducing multiple agencies that then formed layers of support around the student. The practitioner engaged the student in one-to-one college visits and showcased areas of vocational interest within the community.

The practitioner organised weekly engagement activities over a sustained period to ensure the student would have confidence in the process and in the practitioner. The practitioner and agencies involved maintained a consistent approach and were clear about activities and timetabling. These were communicated visually and with plenty of notice to provide preparation time.

This individualised support meant the practitioner could match the student’s needs to the best locally available post-16 provision. The student now lives independently and is enrolled on an apprenticeship programme.

*References to particular courses, assessments or platforms do not indicate that these are approved or recommended by the Department for Education (DfE).

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