This article reports the findings of four separately commissioned evaluations of alternative provision (AP) undertaken in three local authorities in the UK. The evaluations were specifically predicated on the principles of children's rights and used a combination of qualitative research methods and documentary analysis to elicit the experiences of young people in conjunction with the viewpoints of key stakeholders. Data from each evaluation was gathered over a total period of 6 years. The sites and time scales for each evaluation varied from 6-month authority-wide strategic reviews to a 3-year evaluation of an AP free school and an evaluation of pupil referrals in a large school partnership. The evaluations involved 200 participant children and young people, 30 managers and stakeholders, 8 parents of non-attending pupils and local authority officers and school governors. The evaluations report the complexity of needs amongst children and young people; the continuing problem of unsuccessful transitions between key phases/stages of education and the profound consequences of this for young people; assumptions around mainstream reintegration and managed moves; and the curriculum challenges of vocationalism and academic emphasis. While the research data confirms the positive value of multi-agency approaches in AP, it also shows a more recent troubling increase in the number of young people now being referred to AP as a consequence of their exposure to performative school cultures.
This article presents the findings of a pilot professional development programme designed to support Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to become effective School Link Officers (SLOs) within urban secondary schools in the English West Midlands. Findings are presented via perceptions of key stakeholders: SLOs themselves; school-based mentors supporting the work of SLOs; and the West Midlands Police officer co-ordinating aspects of the project. The agreed professional development model comprised a two-day induction programme; school-based mentoring and coaching; and SLOs' reflections via a small-scale action research project. Findings reveal the complexities of community policing in contemporary urban secondary school contexts and the challenges of enhancing the professional status of the SLO. Although PCSOs have been working as SLOs for several years, preparation for this role has been inadequate and the issue has generally been overlooked in literature. The pivotal role of effective school-based mentorship, opportunities for reflection and gaining national professional recognition via the action research project emerge as particularly positive features of the professional development model. With the ultimate aim of safeguarding young people, recommendations are also made to further develop the model to enhance SLOs' professional learning and effectiveness and maximise inter-professional working.
This article examines processes of educational reform and change in a post-Communist Eastern European country. Focusing on the experiences and challenges facing one geographical community in Sibiu County, Romania, an attempt is made to understand some of the macro and micro factors, influences and external policy drivers, shaping the organization and management of schools, training of teachers, realignment of the curriculum and emergence of new pedagogical practices. The article utilizes a series of ‘narrative portraits’ constructed out of a case study, involving interviews with school inspectors, school managers, university academic staff and school teachers. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities, run by two of the authors, also provided a rich source of data. The article considers the tensions and challenges accompanying reform, together with the emergence of innovatory strategies and practices that have the potential to transform and improve the educational experiences of children living in Sibiu County, Romania
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