New schools will help pupils make Progress in ed­u­ca­tion

Al­ter­na­tive to teach­ing helps vul­ner­a­ble and dis­ad­van­taged young­sters to get on in life

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Camil­la_Good­man

A SCHOOL for chil­dren who strug­gle in main­stream ed­u­ca­tion is open­ing the door of op­por­tu­nity to young peo­ple in Che­sham and High Wy­combe.

Progress Schools is set­ting vul­ner­a­ble, dis­ad­van­taged and dis­en­gaged young­sters aged be­tween 13 and 16 on the road to dis­cov­ery – and ul­ti­mately jobs – by pro­vid­ing an al­ter­na­tive to con­ven­tional teach­ing.

For most it is a sec­ond chance to learn and gain essen­tial life skills af­ter be­ing ex­cluded from school, or be­ing at risk of ex­clu­sion, for a whole va­ri­ety of rea­sons rang­ing from be­havioural and emo­tional is­sues to longterm ill­ness.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of Progress Schools James Ma­dine said: “De­spite all our young stu­dents’ cases be­ing dif­fer­ent, one com­mon thread runs through the need to pro­vide a form of al­ter­na­tive ed­u­ca­tion in ar­eas like High Wy­combe and Che­sham.

“This is that rem­edy to help re­pair the lives of these young peo­ple, it needs to be tai­lored to their in­di­vid­ual needs, some­thing that many con­ven­tional schools and lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties ei­ther lack the re­sources or have the will to do.”

Based in Sta­tion Road, in Che­sham, and Lane End Road, in High Wy­combe, Progress Schools is cur­rently ed­u­cat­ing 13 young peo­ple and that fig­ure is due to rise to 35 by Septem­ber.

It is part of a net­work of in­de­pen­dent sec­ondary schools across Eng­land which are al­ready pro­vid­ing high level, sup­port­ive and in­spi­ra­tional teach­ing at Key Stages 3 and 4 with a par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on GCSE English and math­e­mat­ics along with vo­ca­tional sub­jects.

In­ci­dence of ex­clu­sion from school is seen to be con­sis­tently higher in ar­eas of eco­nomic de­pri­va­tion.

Chil­dren in care also fig­ure promi­nently.

Ex­clu­sion af­fects some of the most vul­ner­a­ble pupils in so­ci­ety. Along with chil­dren with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs and dis­abil­i­ties, this group also in­cludes pupils from cer­tain eth­nic groups.

An ex­cluded child is likely to be seen by other schools as a source of trou­ble and many schools are un­will­ing to take on “prob­lem” pupils.

The Progress Schools’ port­fo­lio of class­room suc­cess in the past year in­cludes a boy who ar­rived in the coun­try from Pak­istan speak­ing English only as a third lan­guage and who, in­spired by English lessons, now ex­cels in ba­sic skills and is pur­su­ing a ca­reer in IT.

Fol­low­ing one-to-one tuition and guid­ance, a teenager ex­cluded from school be­cause of ag­gres­sive traits is now on a car me­chan­ics course while a boy ex­cluded be­cause he was heav­ily in­volved in sub­stance abuse is get­ting his life back on track by achiev­ing func­tional skills qual­i­fi­ca­tions and tak­ing part in peer teach­ing.

Mr Ma­dine added: “A lot of chil­dren in these ar­eas come from fam­i­lies that, be­cause of lo­cal eco­nomic cir­cum­stances, are third or fourth gen­er­a­tion ben­e­fit claimants.

“These are young peo­ple whose hori­zons need broad­en­ing and who have to be de­vel­oped and chal­lenged to meet their aca­demic, emo­tional, be­havioural and so­cial needs.”

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