mapping alternative education by programme or purpose

Here are two more ways to think about alternative education:

Thomson and Russell (2007) took a programmatic approach to mapping alternative provision suggesting nine different foci  and approach. This chimes with that taken by OfSTED (2011). Each of these programmes might then be understood by duration, enrolment and location.

Nature of programme Type of activity Examples
VOCATIONAL A programme that is specifically gained towards a particular occupation/profession/career. Often offering an actual qualification that will help a young person to enter the ‘world of work’ ConstructionMotor vehiclesHair and beauty

 

WORK SKILLS Generic work skills are developed such as ‘being able to follow instructions’ General experience on farms
BASIC SKILLS English, Maths, Science and IT are offered (not necessarily at GCSE level) E-Learning sites
LIFE SKILLS General skills needed to function in society are developed, such as social skills, cooking, talking without swearing Team-building exercises
ACTIVITY BASED The programme has an activity/leisure focus FishingCycling
ENVIRONMENTAL The focus is on teaching young people about nature and how to utilise materials in the outdoors and survive outside Work in forests
ART Has a focus on teaching and learning the arts Dance, media, music and drawing, pottery
THERAPEUTIC Focuses on offering a remedial option Anger managementFamily therapy
WORK EXPERIENCE Various work placements that form part of a young person’s educational package, some are offered as part of actual programmes  
ACADEMIC  Has a strong scholastic focus, with an emphasis on known educational qualifications such as GCSE One-to-one tuition

 Figure 1: A programmatic framework (Thomson and Russell, 2007)

A mapping approach has also been proposed by Australian scholar Te Riele (2007). Unlike Aron’s more pragmatic stance, she argues that the question of purpose cannot be ignored. In the post-compulsory sector at least, she suggests, programmes must first be differentiated by whether they have a youth at risk (fix the student) or learning choice (expand educational options and horizons) focus. The difference between the two can be determined, according to Te Riele, by examining programmes for: the purpose or objective, target population, educational content and planned outcomes/credentials. But, she suggests, the provenance of the programme also makes a key difference, so it is vital to also consider a programme’s sponsor, duration, and stability (e.g. short term funding or established unit). Alternative programmes can be mapped into four quadrants (see Figure 2), where axis one is the purpose of change (young person or provision) and axis two is the stability of alternative programme.

Locus of Change: The Young Person

Short term/vulnerable project aimed to improve the young person through:

  • Modified behaviour
  • Enhanced social skills/confidence
  • Enhanced basic literacy/numeracy
  • Enhanced employability
Established institutional unit or school aimed to improve the young person through:

  • Modified behaviour
  • Enhanced social skills/confidence
  • Enhanced basic literacy/numeracy
Short term/vulnerable project aimed to offer an educational experience that:

  • Connects with the young person’s interests
  • Meets the young person’s needs
  • Increases access to jobs
Established institutional unit or school aimed to offer and educational experience that:

  • Connects with the young person’s interests
  • Meets the young person’s needs
  • Provides access to educational credentials

Locus of Change: Educational Provision

Figure 2. Te Riele’s ( 2007) map of educational alternatives

Te Riele’s model has been taken up by an Australian private sector educational charity, the Dusseldorp Skills Foundation and used as the basis for developing a national mapping of alternative education programmes (Te Riele, 2012).

References

Te Riele, K., 2007. Educational alternatives for marginalised youth. The Australian Educational Researcher, 34, 53-68.

Te Riele, K., 2012. Learning choices: A map for the future http://www.dsf.org.au: Dusseldorps Skills Foundation.

Thomson, P. & Russell, L., 2007. Mapping the provision of alternatives to school exclusion York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

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