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Future Schools Trust opens ground-breaking scheme

The Gateway is designed to provide early intervention for pupils who might otherwise have faced exclusion

Posted by Julian Owen | October 13, 2017 | School life

A Kent schools’ Trust has launched a ground-breaking scheme to help disaffected and underachieving children succeed within mainstream schooling.

Future Schools Trust, based in Maidstone, has set up a designated learning hub called The Gateway, to provide early intervention for children who might previously have faced exclusion.

Half way through the first term, it is already reaping dividends, with virtually 100% attendance – and plaudits from a former schools’ minister.

Designed to develop pupils’ social and communication skills, the hub caters for pupils from the Trust’s two academies – New Line Learning and Cornwallis - who have complex social and mental health difficulties as well as those with special educational needs.

It teaches practical strategies for pupils to use to avoid situations escalating, whilst ensuring they have secure knowledge in Maths and English, accompanied by lessons in subjects in which they are passionate.

Head of Gateway James Graham said: “This is an extremely adaptable provision, providing students with an array of opportunities to both develop and inspire them. It is not a case of one size fits all - we will work together as a trust to find the resource which works best for each child."

“It’s all about building trust. There will be no hierarchy here; everyone is treated the same,” 

“The Gateway has its own unique brand and identity, although pupils will be expected to wear their respective school uniforms. Ultimately, the plan is to reintroduce them to mainstream schooling," added Mr Graham. “It’s not going to be a soft option – just a different option – and one which will, we believe, ensure each child has the opportunity to maximise his or her potential.

“Many of our teenagers can only think about leaving school and earning money. We want them to see the bigger picture and realise that the more skills and qualifications they have, the more they will be valued in the workplace.”

The Gateway incorporates a classroom and IT suite for teaching small groups and a circular table to be used whilst eating and during discussions. Its location – away from the main schools – means the team will be able to work more closely with outside agencies and professionals, such as counsellors, therapists and social services.

“It’s all about building trust. There will be no hierarchy here; everyone is treated the same,” explained Mr Graham. Regular meetings are held with parents to further develop relationships.

The Commons Education Select Committee is currently looking at the education of children in alternative provision, such as the Gateway, following news that the number of children being excluded from school is on the increase. 

Future Schools Trust Chief Executive Joshua Coleman said: “Some children could be disadvantaged because of dyslexia, family circumstances or emotional upheaval. Each child is different, but the new Gateway offers a range of opportunities which can be tailored to individual need. We believe our model is something which could be used and adapted by other schools and academies and we will be submitting our observations to the select committee in due course.”

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