Reimagining Alternative Provision

The new school year has started and across the UK teachers are starting to feed the minds of another year's cohort of the young people who are curious and eager to learn, with a vision for their future, but what about those young people who do not share the same enthusiasm for learning, those who already seem to be on a path to a future where things aren’t good? Where is the provision for the most vulnerable, those who lack positive influences or relationships, and are in danger of dropping out of education?

The life-changing SW!TCH from Dagenham to Sierra Leone

At our recent graduation event, one parent said “When he was at school, my son was never allowed to go on a trip, but SW!TCH Expeditions has taken him on an adventure of a lifetime”. On the 27th June, SW!TCH Expeditions returned from a ten-day trip to Sierra Leone which was the culmination of a two-year programme of full-time alternative provision. "This trip exceeded all our expectations" reflects Nathan Singleton, LifeLine Projects CEO. "For a start, I got to do some touristy things for the first time in ten years of visiting!". Sierra Leone was a huge opportunity for personal breakthrough in the students.

How should we measure the performance of Alternative Provision schools?

In the wake of the Brexit vote we have a government that is focused on Brussels and not much else, or so it seems. This, however, is a key time to share solutions for the AP issue. There has been a steep increase in referrals to AP in education. As I have discussed this with other sector leaders there is general agreement that current progress measures and Ofsted's Common Inspection Framework are not suitable for AP.

A hat trick of Ofsted results

At LifeLine we are committed to making a difference in the community in which we live and work. I'm delighted to be able to announce a hat trick of GOOD ratings from Ofsted. LifeLine currently operates two Little Learners Nurseries and Pre-Schools and these, along with SW!TCH Expeditions, one of our Alternative Provisions for secondary education were inspected during the latter part of 2017. We have now received confirmation that each one received a GOOD rating.

Loneliness: Helping our community to engage with solutions

According to research, loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. Loneliness and social isolation are actually harmful to our health: lacking social connections is as much of a risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.

Change is afoot!

Hans Baird has announced his intention to step down as the Chief Executive Officer of LifeLine Projects at the end of this year. We really appreciate the contribution that Hans has made over his five year tenure, in particular the commercial expertise and skills he has brought to the LifeLine team. Hans is exchanging life in the UK for a whole new adventure in Nigeria. We wish him and his family all the very best and look forward to hearing from him from time to time as our relationship continues across the continents.

SW!TCH Expeditions rated GOOD by Ofsted

We are delighted to announce that following our recent Ofsted inspection, SW!TCH Expeditions, a LifeLine Alternative Provision, has been rated GOOD by Ofsted. Director of Young People's Services, Nathan Singleton said, I have always believed that the best place for the vast majority of young people to learn is in mainstream school. Where that is not possible, young people need high quality alternative provision (AP) that urges them forward. I am pleased that Ofsted have recognised that SW!TCH Expeditions achieves this. Over the last year we have taken a decision to simply do what is right for the students. I understand how…

17 years of working in East London: Why we do what we do

Seventeen ‘troubled’ sixteen year olds, eight tents, three Mentors and me...in Wales...in the middle of British summertime. It was cold and very, very wet. We made some progress and touched some lives, but I spent a lot of time dashing about, shouting instructions to avert disasters. Fast forward a year and I’d learned a lot. This time five young people, accompanied by three leaders and one minibus packed with basic camping equipment and quick-cook pasta set off for four days in the Brecon Beacons at the end of the summer term.

Keeping our feet dirty – a local charity with a national reach

When FaithAction, under the umbrella of LifeLine Projects, first started they did a survey of network members (now totalling 2400). One comment that was important to them was ‘we have never met the team in person, but we feel they speak for us.’ It’s very important to FaithAction to meet those who they represent, but more than that, it’s important that they can express their opinions: and that’s because they are similar, they do the same stuff in the same places - their feet are dirty - just as the feet of their members. For over 10 years now LifeLine Projects in Barking and Dagenham have been the umbrella organisation who host this national network. With a mission to support the work of faith and community organisations, FaithAction works directly with a number of Government departments, runs an All-Party Parliamentary Group (in parliament) with MPs and Peers and delivers services, support and contracts throughout the country.

Off grid mentoring = changed lives

Unlike the Famous Five, our students - accompanied by three leaders and one mini bus packed with basic camping equipment and lashings of quick cook pasta in place of ginger beer - set off for four days in the Brecon Beacons at the end of the summer term. Camping was challenging (as you can see) and you may well be asking yourself: why bother? The simple answer is that investing time and genuine interest in a young person reaps rewards that just aren't present when looking for the quick fix, or only ever relating in a formal mentoring or education setting.

Why is alternative education so crucial?

Schools are responding to population growth, but how can we ensure that every pupil receives the best quality of education? We are in the middle of a policy void. An alarming place to be, given that we are talking about something so vital. The most recently set direction of travel was in March 2016 when the then Secretary of State for Education released a white paper entitled 'Educational Excellence Everywhere'. The introduction says 'there still remain too many pockets of educational under-performance – areas where too many young people miss out on the chance to benefit from the best possible education. This is deeply unfair.'

Get disengaged students to love learning again: here’s how

For some young people the big school setting simply doesn't work. It's too overwhelming. Too brutal you might say. Some young people just need a smaller class. A smaller school. Expensive? Yes. Undeniably. But we’re sharing our discoveries with you because they show that it’s possible to dramatically change the future trajectory for disengaged students to get them on course to progress into further education at 16+ rather than being added to the NEET numbers.