Posted in Alternative Provision, curriculum, education, Free School Meals, Funding, leadership, learning, opinion, policy, relationships, schools, SEND, teaching, Uncategorized

Working to reduce bullying and minimising negative consequences when it occurs – Part 2

On Monday, Dr. Bob Sproson, Director of Education at the Red Balloon Learning Centre, discussed how to identify children that are at risk of bullying and how a school might support them on site. Dr. Sproson now concludes this fantastic article by exploring how a school might support the most severely bullied children at alternative educational providers such as Red Balloon and how to access funding.

Alternative Provision:

It is rare that issues cannot be resolved ‘in situ’ and the student, therefore, continue to attend their school. In extremis, however, the trauma undergone by the student is such that continued attendance is genuinely impossible for her/him  (at least the fear generated by it is too great for her/him to contemplate). In some cases an agreed / arranged transfer to another school may provide an answer; occasionally the fear is simply ‘of school’, thus a transfer, or, as is often offered, attendance at on onsite unit, cannot be the solution – temporarily, school is not an option.

In such cases the student retains their right to full time education and an appropriate alternative provider should be sought.

Red Balloon is the only current provider offering high quality academic provision alongside a wellbeing programme that aims to re-build the student’s self image and provide them with the interpersonal skills and the positive self esteem necessary to re-access mainstream school.

Red Balloon offers this both through attendance at its ‘actual’ centres and through its online learning service (Red Balloon of the Air) – the latter is growing almost daily. Any contact regarding provision that can be made available should be made to local centres where appropriate:

or to the Red Balloon Central Office where a local centre is not accessible.

Funding advice:

Simply because of its size (appropriate alternative provision for this purpose needs to be very small and to offer bespoke curriculum opportunities), alternative provision is considerably more expensive per capita than mainstream schooling.

The intention of an alternative provider will always be to re-access mainstream provision; placement duration might vary between one and five terms. In terms of the longer term cost of ‘failure to provide’ (both in terms of cost to the state should the student never re-access education and become dependent upon the state, and in terms of potential compensation to be paid by the local authority or school for such failure), the short term cost is money very well invested. It remains the responsibility of all local authorities to ensure that all students access full time appropriate education.

Schools might access funding through:

  • Per capita allocation AWPU or core funding;
  • Pro rata allocation of other funding streams / grants provided to the school;
  • Pupil premium;
  • AP funding – in certain authorities las have devolved funding to individual schools or school clusters;
  • LACSEG – received by academies to enable them to fund provision that previously would have been funded through the LA;
  • Delegated SEN funding – all schools now receive some baseline funding for SEN students… students who self exclude following bullying have a temporary ‘special need’.

Returning to my initial notion of schools as communities. Martin Buber (Ich und Du – I and Thou, 1933) argued that once people are viewed as objects / statistics, then ‘empathy erosion’ and lack of care occur – does the drive to collect data and meet targets cast students as objects, thus de-humanising them from the school’s perspective?

Simon Baron-Cohen develops this view and argues that, “empathy occurs when we suspend our single minded focus of attention, and instead adopt a double minded focus of attention”. Another way of explaining Baron-Cohen’s notion is that any just or moral person or society must always embrace the view of ‘the other’ at the same time as their/its own. If students are taught to do this, it becomes almost inconceivable that they might bully others; if school staff can maintain this ‘double minded focus of attention’, they can work effectively with the bullies and the bullied.

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