Multi-disciplinary approach to AP

18th April 2017

School leaders offered new multi-disciplinary solution to alternative provision

Managing reducing school budgets whilst delivering a high standard of education to children is an ongoing challenge faced by many senior leaders – one which, in some instances, is further compounded when a pupil has a number of complex needs and for which the traditional classroom setting does not work.

The Diverse Alternative Provision Academy (DAPA) is a new ‘free school’ bid being led by the Diverse Academies Learning Partnership, a Nottinghamshire-based multi academy trust. The academy is set to address the quality gap in educational provision for vulnerable and disengaged children across the East Midlands region, with an unrivalled competitive funding model which it believes all schools can access.

Designated alternative provision (AP) pupils are awarded a fixed level of ‘high needs’ government funding but, with few exceptions, this does not cover the full cost associated with their educational, social and development needs. Commissioners of AP – schools, academies, trusts and local authorities – are therefore required to cover the provider ‘top-up’ costs. The impact of this in times of significant financial constraints cannot be underestimated.

DAPA has benchmarked itself both regionally and nationally to ensure it will be able to offer the best value alternative provision. The academy will have generous pupil to staff ratios, with a multi-disciplinary approach to assessing and meeting the needs of its children and young people, to ensure each makes the rapid progress necessary.

Debbie Clinton, the Diverse Academies’ deputy chief executive officer and project lead, said, “DAPA will be able to offer a unique ‘diet’ of education and professional support. Our in-house multi-disciplinary team will draw not only on teaching staff but also dedicated expertise in areas such as counselling, behavioural support, and speech, language and communication therapy. The impact of our approach will prove to be highly beneficial for the pupils concerned – something we believe other providers, who have to buy-in services, do not have the ability to match”.

DAPA will provide places from short term interventions to permanent placements, with programmes aiming to engage children and young people through a mixture of high level academic and vocational subjects, combined with the very best extra-curricular activities. Its in-house multi-disciplinary team will immediately identify individual pupil needs, creating a ‘base-line’ assessment which can be quickly adjusted as the team responds to ongoing or new interventions. It is this approach that DAPA argues will result in the rapid progress of each pupil – which could not be achieved in a mainstream educational setting or by other providers who do not have comparable access to the range of professional expertise required to ensure pupil success.

As part of the bid process, commissioners of AP places are being invited to confirm their support for the academy, which is due to open in September 2018.

For all enquiries or to speak to a member of the DAPA team, phone (01636) 655421 or email