Stone Soup Academy (SSA) is an OFSTED rated outstanding Academy in the centre of Nottingham. Students come from all over the city, but they are mainly from areas of deprivation including Gedling, Carlton, Arnold and Broxtowe. On average, 35-40 students from year 11 transition annually post-16 into education, work and training. SSA works hard to ensure that its students transition successfully into these areas.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story as Department for Education data shows: Students in 2014 who ended Key Stage 4 (KS4) in alternative provision make up 1% of all KS4 pupils but 4% of all NEET (not in education, employment or training) 16-year olds (Department for Education, Destinations of key stage 4 and key stage 5 pupils: 2014). This suggests that there are significant challenges in achieving successful transitions to participation in post-16 education or training.
SSA seeks to resolve these issues. In partnership with the Badur Foundation, SSA is piloting a full-time ‘Head of Sixth’ role to better support young people moving forward post-16. A pastoral sixth form will continue to look after the well-being of students and will provide mentorship support whilst being an advocate for them, where required, when they leave SSA. The school is a place of trust and security for young people, and the role aims to ensure this can continue after they leave.
As well as supporting current year 11 students to ensure a robust transition, this role will link with Nottingham College and other providers, and will meet with any ex-students who are NEET to support them back into education, work and training. The role aims to ensure communications happens ahead of any problems arising, rather than trying to resolve an issue once it has occurred.
The Head of Sixth will connect with ex-students termly to track their progress and collect robust data on destinations, as well as giving holistic support where required. Added capacity will also enable the coordination of work experience projects and skills-based learning outside of the academy to empower and up-skill students prior to leaving the academy.
A longer-term aim is for SSA to find alternative accommodation from which to develop and grow a funded sixth form. This would enable the role to be sustained going forward.