“The rollout of the new model for delivering learning support will provide more accessible and flexible support to young people to help them realise their full potential. We will be piloting new local responses to better meet the needs of young people at risk of not achieving in education,” Ms Upston says.
Young people aged between 13 and 16 who are alienated from mainstream schooling often end up enrolled in alternative education or activity centres.
The Ministry of Education funds schools to provide 1888 places in alternative education and 280 activity centre places across the country each year. The pilot will be carried out at five Communities of Learning to help test the model that will be made available to all schools.
Ms Upston stressed that alternative education contracts are in place until December 2018 while the pilot is underway and all young people currently in alternative education and activity centres would continue to be supported.
“Communities of Learning are ideal to test the new approaches because they have a wide variety of schooling types and some involve early learning services as well. This means we can further test the new approaches in a wider variety of settings. The presence of early learning services in many communities will allow us to further test how alternative education resources can best follow children as they move from early learning to schooling,” Ms Upston says.
“In the pilots, we will be identifying those at risk earlier in their educational pathway, connecting them with the appropriate supports, and strengthening capability to respond more quickly to the needs of students at risk of disengaging. We will also be working with schools and providers to ensure that students currently in alternative education and activity centres are getting the right learning opportunities and the right support.
“Alternative education and activity centre providers and tutors often cite a range of unmet needs that their students require support with before they can re-engage in learning, including mental health issues and dependency on drugs and alcohol. This is often too late in students’ educational pathways to take meaningful action.
“We will be engaging with the relevant national bodies to draw on their experience and expertise in delivering improved social, educational and life outcomes for disengaged young people.
“All of our young people deserve a high-quality education that sets them onto a pathway to realise their full potential and achieve educational success,” Ms Upston says.
Beehive Louise Upston August 2017