Keeping an eye on a company whose business is government contracts.
Friday, 11 September 2009
Another foot in the special needs door
I wrote the other day about a scheme in North East Lincolnshire called the Life Academy - A4e's contract to take disaffected youngsters out of the education system. I've learned more about the background to that, but not what happened to it. Now there's news that A4e are doing the same thing in Mansfield, but this time described as a
"Unique vocational training centre". The article says that "The Hamilton Way centre is the first of its kind in the UK and will provide education and training for young people aged from five to 16, who find it difficult to learn in mainstream education. The centre will work with local authorities and schools to provide access to vocational training and education related [sic] for a range of clients, including young people in the care of social services, those at risk of exclusion and who have been excluded from school and young offenders." And it's also going to include "the new Vox 4 Tots vocational training centre, which aims to help infants and primary school children who are finding it difficult to make the transition into school life." Apart from the toe-curling name, this is really scary. It would appear to be operating as a Pupil Referral Unit, and as a School Preparation Unit, things which demand highly qualified and experienced staff. PRUs are normally under the direct control of the Local Authority, but a contracted-out one like this won't be. Mansfield's education authority is Nottinghamshire, but there's nothing on their website about it. But we can be reassured. An A4e spokeswoman says, "We have seen so much evidence already that the A4e ethos works and we look forward to helping more children become excited about education and their future." You bet.