Live, online, alternative learning provision with Academy21

Through alternative provision, Academy21 have been supporting young, vulnerable learners in achieving academic success and progressing in their education since 2011.
Delivered to learners from KS2 level through to KS5, our extensive curriculum is taught to students with complex medical, mental and behavioural needs that prevent them from attending and thriving in a mainstream secondary school setting.

How Academy21 can help:

  • We provide a safe and secure learning environment for young learners.
  • Spanning 100 local authority areas, we support English and Welsh schools for teaching online.
  • 360-degree monitoring, delivering AQA, Edexcel and WCJ GCSE specifications.
  • Small group learning to enable tailored education.
  • No long-term financial commitment or block booking is required.

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Hear from our Executive Director of Education

Sara de Freitas, the Executive Director Education at Wey Education, explores the importance of alternative online provision for learners who struggle within a mainstream secondary school setting.

“Since the earliest days when I was a young educator just starting out my career, I realised the importance of alternative provision. It was an old colleague of mine, Stephen Heppell, and his team at Anglia Ruskin University who highlighted to me the importance of alternative provision with the Notschool.net project, where children who had failed in formal education were given a chance to reset the button in a very different environment.”

Written by Dr Sara de Fritas
Executive Director of Education, Wey Education Plc

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What impressed me about that programme was the way that children were allowed to state at the outset how they wanted to be assessed, and then were assessed in that way at the end. But also what was highlighted was the importance of changing the metaphor of learning, the school was not a school, the students were researchers, the whole metaphor was different, and this allowed children who had bad experiences of mainstream schooling to reset the button.

It is interesting because since the lockdown a similar thing is happening, some students who have not fared so well in mainstream settings are doing better in the online setting. This is not necessarily because of the different pedagogy used or the change of content (these remain more or less unchanged in much of standard bricks and mortar provision) but because of the different setting. The change of setting or context of learning is a major component of this transformation.

I also think that other factors outside of the classroom, in the school playgrounds for example, can have a detrimental impact upon some students, especially where bullying and peer behaviours are a negative force for some children. It is hard to estimate the scale of safeguarding issues that arise in the school playground alone, some children do not know how to play together, and bullying is an issue in every bricks and mortar school.

At Academy21, we have a model of learning that allows children to develop according to their own speed and pace, it allows children to be separated from other children and allows them to focus upon their studies, just as the teachers can focus upon teaching. One of the most striking comments I heard from a teacher interviewing with us for a place at Academy21 was how much easier it was to be allowed to just teach rather than dealing with behavioural issues constantly in the physical classroom. It is a sad state of affairs that teachers are not allowed to get through important content or to be allowed to teach as they want to, but it’s a sad reality that in some classrooms disruptive behaviour can be detrimental to the learning of the whole class.

I think that we all have the capability to learn, but we may need to learn in different ways, and we may mature at later ages and some of us never benefit from the joys of an excellent education. As an educator, that is very disappointing because all of us, regardless of which school we teach in, genuinely want all our students to succeed to the point of working longer hours, providing greater challenges for our students and spending hours trying to learn new software. For us, it is tragic that we can’t reach even one student, that we can’t inspire them and innovate with them and enrich their lives with education as our lives have been endlessly enriched with learning, reading, writing, mathematics and communications.

This is why at Academy21 we are so committed to using the most up to date software and approaches to support our very special cohort of students that may have failed in mainstream education, but deserve every bit as much of a chance to sit their GCSEs and go on to further study and success as any other student. We want to build more chances into their lives, and with school exclusions on the rise so dramatically to almost double since 2014, we need to find better ways to make sure these special and important students do have the same chance to succeed and excel as any other student.

We are committed to their futures and will ensure that their learning with us helps to change their perception of learning. When I think about how Notschool.net transformed a generation of kids lost to education, I feel some hope that through Academy21 another generation of students will walk away from education with a positive attitude to it, and with a greater resolve to succeed in their lives.

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