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.

Building relationship is key when switching young people from failure to success

A few weeks ago Tony, along with his seven other classmates at SW!TCH Expeditions, was causing trouble at school. He could not relate to other students, would often blow up in class and beat up younger students if he didn’t like the way they looked at him. When he was agitated he became a health and safety risk - unable to cope with authority and a law unto himself. His Headteacher was giving him one last chance before the threat of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) became reality. Tony was selected as one of the candidates on SW!TCH Expeditions, a programme designed to turn students from persistent trouble-makers into consistent successes.

My journey through secondary school

My personal journey through secondary school was tolerable at the best of times. It is no secret that adolescents in secondary school are handed both the taxing responsibility of being required to know exactly what they would like to do as adults and also a mountain of work to achieve that goal. However, despite having been on top of my studies for the most part as well as having a general direction of where I wanted to be in the future, I was still unhappy during my time there. So what was missing? It looks as if what a majority of…

Pastoral support: Short-term, light touch vs long-term, intensive

There's no quick fix for NEET young people. A sustained approach, with commitment and long-term funding is what inspires lasting change and creates game-changers like Robyn and Prince Robyn was coming up to her GCSE year, but didn't really care about school work. Her mentor noticed that her attitude to school was quite negative although she had plenty of time for doing things other than homework! Her mentor expressed her concern and in one of those conversations Robyn was struck by the fact that her mentor seemed to have a strong vision for what she could accomplish through her school work.

Alternative Education: dumping difficult pupils with bad providers makes the problem worse

As a provider of Alternative Provision for over 11 years, I can sympathise with some of the comments reported from illegal schools last week. As a NEET prevention provider having worked with 50 schools over the last five years, I can also understand the drivers operating in schools. In this BBC article, the illegal school proprietor recognised they had a narrow curriculum, but believed this was supplemented by a higher level of pastoral care. Focussing on illegal schools will not solve the problem that schools face, nor the broader point about education. The fact is that mainstream education does not…

11 years old and LifeLine School is reborn!

In 2005, the Local Authority of Barking and Dagenham approached LifeLine to pilot a year 11 education provision for hard-to-place students and school refusers. Over the last 11 years, this provision has gone from strength to strength and has adapted to suit the changing audience. In recent years, 100% of the referrals have been from recent arrivals, either to the borough or to the country. These recent arrivals require a different programme to the original participants and their parents have different hopes and aspirations. By and large the recent arrivals are economic or education migrants. The parents, in particular, want…

Lifeline Graduation 2016

On Friday the 8th of July, LifeLine held a graduation event for its class of 2016. This celebration featured a range of guest speakers and presentations, concluding the evening with the awarding of certificates to graduating students. Family and friends who attended the event were able to see some of what students had accomplished over the year and what makes LifeLine what it is. LifeLine students from previous years were invited to speak to the graduating class and offer some advice regarding the next step after finishing their Secondary education. More speakers were present to inspire and advise the students…

Driving up standards for Alternative Provision

"My Dad left when I was three and I don't know where he is...". "My Mum and step Dad are getting divorced. I don't feel like I belong anywhere...". "I know that hanging around with him doesn't help me, but he's my mate, what can I do?" There are some stories that we hear time and time again across the inner-city schools we mentor in. Stories from young people who use weed, or who self-harm, or are violent as a matter of course. Simply because they don't know how to deal with what life throws at them. Schools of course aren't there to deal with these issues. They're there to educate. But it's difficult, sometimes impossible to educate because the underlying issues manifest in poor attendance, behaviour or attainment.

Mixing education and business: innovative ways to tackle disengagement

We’re really pleased to announce that the LifeLine Institute has recently achieved independent school status! Whereas young people were previously referred to LifeLine exclusively by the Local Authority, it is now also possible for schools that don’t believe mainstream education is benefitting a pupil to refer them to LifeLine. This has broadened the service that LifeLine can provide to schools.