Case Study Five: DV8 Training

Brief Description of The Provision

DV8 is part of the Hawkswood group which commissions, broker and quality assure alternative provision in their borough. Schools pool money to pay for this service. It is however an independent company which began life managing and staging events.

The DV8 training centre is a small community centre building situated in front of a large secondary school on a main road in a residential area of North East London. As well as the alternative provision (AP), the centre runs a post-16 provision serving young people with an interest in music. There are several classroom/learning areas, and a couple of small offices for one to one sessions and meetings. Visitors sign in at reception and access is controlled. The provision has random searches as a safety measure. There is a small outdoor space at the front of the building.

Content and Delivery

Programme on Offer:

At KS4 there is only one group of young people; those enrolled on the AP programme. These young people work towards the equivalent of 5 GCSEs in English, Maths, ICT, Graphic Design and Multi Media (which includes music based modules). The young people also do a personal and social development course. The English, Maths and ICT are geared to functional skills. Although other subjects are offered, DV8 is renowned for its music provision. This covers all areas of music; writing, production, vocals, creating music videos, promotion etc.

Trips are arranged during the year, for instance to college open days and to other music studios and music-related provisions. For the last two years DV8 have also taken the young people on a week-long residential in the countryside. Staff members from DV8 have attended with the students. Students did activities like archery, rock climbing, go-carting, and cooking their meals together.

The group are looked after by two senior tutors. They are taught English, Maths and ICT by qualified teachers who come into the centre for that purpose once a week. English and Maths take place in morning sessions at the beginning of the week. The young people get homework for their Maths and English.

The curriculum is narrower than the young people would typically access in a mainstream environment, but the music, multi-media and graphics aspects are covered in more depth: they have specialised facilities, staff and timetabled time to allow this. Through their PSHE lessons the young people learn about: self-development and how to recognise their own strengths and weaknesses; working as part of a group; getting ready for work, including CV and cover-letter writing and interview techniques; and personal and social goal setting and achievement.

 Identifying Features of Quality


DV8’s aims are to reengage young people in learning and to provide them with the qualifications, skills and support they need to get to the post-16 provision of their choice. They therefore address personal, social and behavioural difficulties, support the young people to build confidence and to plan for the following year, and provide them with the necessary accreditation to be able to pursue the course of their choice. Jake , the manager of DV8, highlighted the challenge that this poses:

we have 36 weeks to turn their lives around i.e. turn them from twenty-five per cent attendance to eighty-five per cent attendance; get them positive again about education; get them to give a damn about it; get them to progress after that in terms of applying for colleges and careers. So careers advice; be engaged; be excited; be passionate and deliver five GCSE equivalents in thirty-six weeks with somebody who you have just met and who has five years of major social issues”.

Target Group

Young people are referred to DV8 by an LA panel or by their school. They have either been formally excluded or are at risk of exclusion. They present an array of difficulties: dyslexia, low self-esteem caused by bullying, ADHD, behavioural issues, parental and family discord. Some of the students encountered during the research visit spoke in ‘street-slang’ and struggled when they were asked by staff not to do so.


All of the staff work/have worked in the music/creative arts industry so they use this expertise, experience and set of networks to support the young people. Company policy means all tutors are also required to take a relevant teaching qualification.

Staff arrive at the provision with various qualifications and backgrounds. One of the tutors with a musical and arts background started off volunteering in the organisation (designing their website) and then, as he became interested in working with the young people, he eventually moved to a full time job as a tutor.

Jake (DV8 manager) was successful at school and went on to do a degree in engineering at Sussex University, before doing his teaching qualification. By 23 he was teaching maths in a secondary school. Throughout this time he was also a musician. He put his first record out whilst he was teaching, and eventually left teaching to “tour the world… I became quite famous and toured the world for about ten years”. At 33 he started a family and worked at the record label he had started. He shared a space with people involved in learning, got involved in doing some workshops for them and eventually was taken on as a member of staff. He then helped them to start up a DV8 Brighton office. He has been managing the DV8 programme for 7 years, and he has also run a few of their other post-16 courses and A-level apprenticeship course.

Safety and Safeguarding

They have random searches at the centre. They make this policy clear to the young people with the aim of encouraging them to make positive decisions about not bringing weapons and drugs into school. They know that there are gang issues in some of the young people’s lives/local areas.

Rules and Discipline

Jake described the staff as “nurturing but not to a sickly extent”. They have clear rules

and expectations about the students being on time every morning and about treating other people with respect:

We are not flexible in terms of behaviour and respect; how you talk to your peers; swearing and that kind of thing. If somebody disrespects somebody or treats them racially or sexually – we have none of that. We have a complete equal opportunities policy which we do three times a year; we agree on how to treat each other; there is no spitting; no chewing gum; no swearing. We are getting them ready for college and we are a stepping stone, as far as I’m concerned.”

However, he thinks that it is helpful that they don’t have rules about uniform,hair colouring and piercings.   One of the young girls’ had been excluded in part because of her appearance.DV8 have the flexibility to enable young people to ‘be themselves’, and for their physical appearance not to count against them in terms of their ability to access education.

Monitoring of progress

The young people have an individual review meeting once a month where they work with a member of staff to decide on their targets. They discuss their individual learning plan, their overall goals and how they might achieve them. Some goals might be academic, for example completing work, but social and personal targets are often used too, such as being on time. Each young person’s goals are typed up and kept in a folder where they are referred to everyday. Goals are reviewed formally at the monthly meeting. The aim is to support the young people to take ownership of their goals. There is a parents’ evening once a term, prior to which a report goes home. The report includes comments from all of the tutors and teachers.


DV8 students were ethnically and racially diverse, although boys were in a majority. DV8 enrol students with SEN statements.

It is very rare that a young person refuses to engage in the provision because they have all chosen to come – it has happened only once in the last couple of years. DV8 gave the a second chance, but she had significant challenges in her personal life: when she stopped attending for the second time her social worker took responsibility for support.

The DV8 leadership is committed to an inclusive ethos.


Young people who are referred to the LA panel. DV8 is one of a set of satellite provisions in the borough, all of which cater to different interests (construction, football, hair and beauty). Young people are directed to DV8 if it meets their interests but it is made clear that it is their choice whether or not they want to attend. If they choose to attend they must agree to a set of rules.

In June DV8 hold an open day for prospective September enrolments. Young people who are interested come back for a meeting with their parents/carers. The meeting is also attended by the Deputy Head of the Hawkswood AP. Following this, they will decide whether to offer the young person a place – however, they have never turned down a young person who wanted to come. Young people sometimes start part way through the year.

Head teachers from some referring schools have visited DV8. However, reintegration into mainstream school is not an aim. There is an understanding amongst the DV8 staff that once the young people are with DV8, they will stay until the end of year eleven. The focus is therefore on post-16 transition, and Jake (the manager) said that they focus on this throughout the year. The aim of the provision is for the young people to get the qualifications they need to go on to to further study, so DV8 very much see themselves as a “pathway”.

DV8 have ongoing conversations they have with young people, where staff try to get them to pin down what they want to do and how they will get there. Staff work with the young people to help them to understand how small goals lead to larger goals. Their aim is for the young people to have options and choices at the end of the DV8 programme.

A lot of young people want to stay on and do the DV8 post-16 course. They are interviewed for this just as other students are. However, DV8 also make sure that all of the young people apply for at least three post-16 courses/colleges so that they have options in case they change their mind or their circumstances change. This means that students get experience of visiting, writing an application, being interviewed etc. This process might also provide young people with their first experience of feeling they have multiple viable options:

It’s telling them that they have options that they can say no to instead of desperately clinging onto one thing. So if they have three offers when it comes to choosing they can say ‘no, no, yes’ as opposed to ‘oh I’ve got nothing what is there for me?’ and you just grab anything that is offered because you haven’t had that choice. Also it gives them the chance to step out of the DV8 world and see what is out there and it also gives them interview experience” (Jake).

The goal for DV8 to be a pathway to further education also frames their enforcement of rules that are about behaviour and attendance – rather than about uniform and appearance – the disciplinary emphases that students will face in an FE college setting).

Relationships with Students

Jake, the manager of the programme, told us about the hard work that goes into changing students’ views and trajectories and how this depended on developing supportive relationships. DV8 provide an “injection of positivity” for the young people and “nurture them”, whilst still enforcing rules and boundaries such as attendance, punctuality, behaviour and respect.

DV8 actively seek the views and suggestions of the young people once a term via a questionnaire. They have received very positive feedback from their current AP group.

Relationships between students

DV8 take students from the 16 schools in the borough and put them into one class. Senior staff recognise that some might think this may not work. But unfamiliarity is exactly the reason why it is effective; the young people don’t know one another and the placement enables them to break away from their old friends and make new friends through their new pathway and interests. The dynamics of the group are very important to the success of the programme.

The group do need support in developing the necessary skills to work productively with other people. The residential has an impact on relationships between students, and between staff and students, because it provides them with an opportunity to find out different things about one another. The residential offers students an opportunity to show skills and aspects of their personality that they can’t always show in a classroom setting.

 Relationship with parents

DV8 believe it is “fundamental” that parents/carers are included at all stages of the educational process and are supportive of the placement because they are still completely responsible for their child. Parents/carers have to sign off on everything that happens. As noted, DV8 have an open day in June, which young people attend with their parents/carers and sign up for an interview if they like the look and sound of the provision. Parents/carers attend the interview. There is often some uncertainty from parents to begin with, they are unsure of the nature of the provision and voice concerns about what it means for their child will be attending: e.g ‘is it a place for bad children; is it full of really bad kids?’ Staff explain that it is a provision for young people who are not engaged in school for a variety of reasons, and that DV8 offer them something different. By the end of the placement, parents often say; “I wasn’t sure but it’s the best thing I could possibly have done”. DV8 has parent testimonials from the last five years about how their child was inspired by the programme.

DV8 have parents/carers’ evening three times a year. The third is a performance, where the parents come for food, see the young people’s work, and have an informal chat with staff and students. Parents/carers receive a full report on each subject ahead of each such evening. These reports reflect on whether the young person is achieving their goals.

Resources and Networks :

DV8 benefits from membership of the Hawkswood group. There is an AP managers meeting once a month. Jake, the DV8 manager, attends this along with the practitioner/managers of other AP provisions and of the Hawkswood group. They discuss any issues they are facing, and share ideas and opportunities. Jake heard about the free residential opportunity through this network. Other schools from the borough have visited DV8 to watch their practice.

DV8 has large networks in relevant industries; staff bring these from their own careers in the music and creative arts industries.

Relationships with other Services and Agencies

Some of the young people who attend the provision have social workers with whom staff will liaise when necessary.


The DV8 training centre is a small community centre building situated in front of a large secondary school on a main road in a residential area of London. It is very well equipped with the appropriate technological equipment, suites of Mac computers, a recording studio, interactive white boards, good quality speakers and headphones, and appropriate music recording software. Specialists come in to do sessions – for example during the research visit a professional singer came in to do a session with the young people.


DV8 are funded through the LA and pooled schools’ money. They use this to pay wages, hire the building from the council, and pay for all of the equipment. They spend a lot of money per head because of the nature of the equipment they use and the staff to student ratio. 2013-2014 will be the first in seven years of running the project that they have broken even.

Well-managed, led and accountable

DV8 are accountable to the Hawkswood group via a yearly quality assurance process. Jake‘s background includes knowledge of the different facets of DV8: a career as a mainstream maths teacher, and a career as a musician. He knows the sector at large, and about what goes wrong for these young people in a mainstream setting. He is strongly committed to inclusion.

Evaluation and Quality Assurance

DV8 are subject to Ofsted inspections as an independent provider. They are also inspected by the borough, and they have welcomed schools from the borough to come and watch their practice. They have an excellent reputation in the LA; they have a high progression and achievement rate in terms of students achieving five GCSE equivalents.

DV8 staff are all required to do a teaching qualification . This is a feature of quality control. All staff have lesson observations. They are also evaluated by students and parents/carers via the termly questionnaire and feedback process. For instance, when young people said they wanted more trips, this suggestion was acted on

Transformation (Choice and autonomy)

DV8 have termly student questionnaires, as noted, and aim to follow up the things that young people raise.

The young people are encouraged to develop and take ownership of their own goals. They decide on their goals with support from staff, and these are referred to regularly throughout the school day and week. DV8 require the young people to apply for three post-16 places so that they have multiple viable options.

The residential trip provided the young people with a set of new experiences. Some of them had never stayed away from home before, and they did activities such as archery, rock climbing and go-carting. Jake said that it is a struggle to get the young people to go on these residential trips but they always have a great experience. Jake described the residential trips as a:

life experience that you have to get. You remember that camp fire when you were a kid. You have an experience with friends in a certain space. A lot of learning is about memory – ‘oh I remember that lesson’ or ‘I remember that teacher’ – and it’s much more powerful than even a classroom. And if that memory is a positive one then it stays in your life forever and they never forget it”.



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