Various approaches to learning
All children are required to be educated according to their needs and in an appropriate way based on their culture, needs, ability/aptitude, learning style and aspirations for the future. We work with schools, parents and the LA to try to help this happen. Most students are able to learn in school but a minority of children who struggle in this school respond by non attendance or disruptive behaviour. The school can develop the curriculum for the child on site or find alternative provision off site. However there is also a group of children in school who don't manifest their issues in ways that trigger a personalised or alternative provision or but are no less in need of something different or in a different environment. Time and Space is so named because we believe that self managed learning has much to offer not just as an alternative to but to activate formal prescribed education. Self managed learning can be as simple as identifying what natural interests and aptitudes a child has adn allowing child to have significant control of the learning process. All teachers know that 'buy in' is essential and is much more productive in the long term and the into the rest of life than forcing education.
When 'buy in' is achieved, a child may reasonably decide that formal education is an appropriate way of achiving some goals and self managed learning for others. In this way a partial alternative provision may be very productive. Our provision is proven in the majority of our students to improve wellbeing and develop their identity and confidence which is beneficial when in school. It is less universally accepted in Education circles that an appropriate education might comprise totally self managed structure but this is often to misunderstand the term. We have discovered that in some children learning occurs at a precise time/situation and not at others so that as Shakespeare put it "there is a tide in the affairs of [men]" - Such a child, having discovered "Time and Space" to work for them would be disadvantaged by a return to mainstream and mainstream methods without planned transition.
Exploring an 'appropriate' education
Discovering a child's authentic preferences is key to motivation. Children are biologically wired to learn and like a plant, in the right environment we believe all children will thrive and go on to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. Where children struggle, particularly perhaps the more vulnerable high functioning ASD, and those averse to the dynamics of school environment in school, we can explore an alternative environment and alternative strategies to help them 'own' their learning. To know ones-self and to develop independent learning strategies must by definition be the most appropriate education. We see the curriculum as an empty box into which we help the student build the content. The specific context of what we offer is in creative subjects but not limited to these. Our goal is for each child to feel empowered to explore their own education plan using methods that they have selected and will continue to develop for themselves throughout life. Again, this may and is most likely to include aspects of formal teaching and learning. We provide various awards and purposeful projects; activities and processes to explore and also freedom to 'graze.
Democratic Learning Community values
In addition to the exploration of self managed learning is the increased agency we bestow on the learner. We seek to apply increasingly democrayic values to our operation. By debating and developing values for community living children begin to understand their responsibilities towards others, their rights and the issues concerned with running a successful democratic society. By attending on certain days, children develop a relationship with peers of various ages on those days and shared activities can be discussed and planned as a group. This can include social values and rules. There is no 'us and them' adversity between staff and students and we work on first name terms. Teachers are facilitators of children's learning. Learners work at their own pace, assessment and critical feedback is by learner request. We celebrate success at all levels all of the time through purposeful projects that guarantee a degree of success and develop resilience and skills.
We seek and get regular feedback from schools, parents and students who write a daily diary. Senior managers and staff are welcome to visit our facilities to assure themselves of best practice and to interview the child. We are registered with Suffolk LA as an alternative provision provider. We are also actively involved with research into the merits of democratic and self directed learning.
our attendance is very high and often 100% of the allocated hours allowable.
punctuality is also excellent
our behaviour record and lack of bullying in particular is exceptional.
Benefits to all
We can show that giving learners 'time and 'space' improves engagement and well-being. We have current examples of where students who once struggled to engage at all - or even attend are now able to voluntarily take on challenges and this with resilience. Anxiety levels, self esteem, home and social life much improved. T&S can be shown to be successful at restoring motivation and attendance in school.
Please note we do not set out to condition a child to 'return to school' (as do many AEPs) However, a student who has been with us, who strategically decides to attend school full time to achieve goals is more likely to thrive. This in turn is more likely to occur if the school actively celebrates the achievements of the child whilst in our provision and collaborates to provide a seamless transition educationally and pastorally and is committed to providing an appropriate setting. We seek funding solutions for those for whom the school setting is agreed not to be appropriate and who thrive in T&S to the point of needing to continue in our provision.