Tavistock base for Alternative Education Provision at risk
Devon’s Alternative Education Provision (AP) for the education of children who are out of school, is run as a sponsored academy and includes the county Pupil Referral Units and education provision for children with medical and emotional needs. The sponsors, Schools Company, are currently being relieved of their contractual duties - the reasons for this have yet to be announced publicly. A replacement sponsor will be put in place but in the meantime the AP base in Tavistock is under threat of closure as a short term ‘cost saving measure’.
The Tavistock base for this AP is the town’s ‘Youth Café’ and the arrangement is recognised as a brilliantly successful community-based model of education provision. The students and the Youth Cafe (the town’s youth centre run as a CIC) benefit in this mutually supportive arrangement. The Youth Cafe benefit from a small income for use of their building but more importantly the students who attend the AP base, many of whom are vulnerable, disadvantaged and typically fall into hard to reach groups, can be linked into support from youth workers and wider services, in addition to their education provision. It is a great example of joined up working in action.
Everyone benefits from this effective, local and sustainable education provision; the AP students, young people generally and the wider community. The area’s most vulnerable young people are connected through the AP and the Youth Café to local support services. This has helped reduce social exclusion of the young people and the associated costs of that. Closure of the Tavistock base will mean these vulnerable young people will be taken by taxi to other venues in Devon to receive their education or receive lessons at home. The Youth Cafe will lose this valuable source of funding which will put that provision at risk. Both scenarios will lead to increases in financial (and social) costs in the longer term.
This exemplary example of appropriate, successful community-based education provision for the most vulnerable young people is set for closure on March 10th. We hope those involved in this decision making will recognise the importance and value of this provision and that the decision is reversed.