The same as every school across the country, we’re looking forward to welcoming and working with our students for this new academic year. And that’s not just some old management speak from the head teacher.
As an Alternative Provision school we are blessed in many ways. To start with, we can offer a broad curriculum of subjects outside the core government stipulated courses — and this is a huge plus, not just from the student’s perspective but the teacher’s too! Our students are special and, again, I mean that as a positive iteration. For many of our youngsters, early trauma has led them down one of life’s blind alleyways and it’s up to us to help them find a way through. When we can do that, it’s a great feeling and one of the true privileges of teaching.
I’m not saying we have a magical fast-track to educational success, but it’s a lot easier to work with youngsters who all have success-compromising personal struggles, than it is to try and find the time for that one learner determined to make his/her voice heard in a class of 30. The lippy lad or lass who always has an answer for everything — and frequently a physical one – will often be struggling to overcome some childhood trauma. He or she may not realise it, still less understand their motivation to lash out, but until you can control that behaviour, how can you begin the process of learning?
What we’ve always set out to do at Apricot is to provide an optimum environment in which vulnerable young people can feel safe – that also means removing many of the triggers students can buck against. So, if there’s no power hierarchy, you cant rail against one. If everything you say is recorded, and can be played back, you can’t really argue. If you start messing around with your online tools and they are switched off, you can’t seek attention. Having an online school gives us, as educators, access to powerful behaviour strategies and you’d be amazed at how quickly a youngster will respond to five seconds of no screen control.
Like teachers everywhere we have challenges, stresses, and frustrations but that never takes away from the fact that looking forward to the new school year and who we’ll be meeting and helping to overcome the obstacles to learning they are facing.