The project supports students who have been excluded from or refuse to attend secondary education and their parents by drawing on the lived experiences of former students and their parents who experienced similar issues but successfully re-engaged their education.  This project does not replace home schooling or provide alternative provision. Instead, following DfE (2016) recommendations, the project recognises the central role that parents play in students’ educational engagement by working closely within family and community systems – providing mentoring using a capabilities approach (White et al, 2016) that works at the interface between family, schools and organisations. As well as directly supporting these students, the programme seeks to;

  • collaborate with former students, parents and partner organisations
  • develop an accredited mentoring service for parents and excluded students to draw on their own and wider resources to meet their developmental, wellbeing and education needs and re-engage education
  • disseminate findings through academic publication

Carried out in four stages, three former excluded students and two of their parents were trained in qualitative research and analysis methods in order to carry out focus groups and interviews with five families of current excluded young people and their parents. Using an experiential learning model and also some prior training days that explored safeguarding, CP and ethical issues related to mentoring vulnerable children and adults, the researchers were trained as mentors to carry out a 12 week intervention with four families. Five formerly excluded students became motivated to engage education in order to meet new career and education aspirations.

The mentors evaluated each session and data was used to compile a report and disseminate the findings at national conferences (BERA) and practitioner training events across West Sussex.

Parents and students developed positive relationships and worked together to help students achieve their future and current education aspirations and meet their current education and support needs.  Parents have said the project has helped them access the resources they need to help them support their children with their education.

Further achieved or planned outcomes include:

  • Three conference presentations (BERA and 2 x practitioner conferences) and subsequent invites to work with two head teachers and senior leadership teams to support excluded students.
  • The project is being developed in partnership with the participants, mentors, WSPCF, former head and deputy head teachers, co-operative schools, university of Portsmouth, local MP into a co-operative AP.
  • The project is being developed into academic paper for publication in a leading peer reviewed journal.
  • The project is also being developed into a peer reviewed book proposal.

Programme Partners: University of Sussex, University of Portsmouth, West Sussex Parent Carer Forum

For further information please email our Innovation Fund Project Manager, Debra Vice-Holt