Being an Alternative Provision Tutor

The number of pupils attending Alternative Provision (AP) has increased in recent years. Each year, around 135,000 children of compulsory school age receive alternative provision, with 70,000 pupils at any one time. As a result, and more than ever, there is a demand for dedicated tutors to work with disadvantaged pupils and there are many benefits to being an Alternative Provision tutor with Fleet Education Services. 

What is Alternative Provision?

Alternative Provision is an education programme that supports and re-engages learners who are unable to attend an educational setting due to behaviour difficulties, mental health issues, complex needs, social, emotional, and mental health difficulties (SEMH), or neurodiversity such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

As AP learners typically have an EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan), detailing their specific educational needs and disabilities (SEND), our AP education programmes offer a tailored approach to education, to ensure that every learner has an opportunity to thrive. The ultimate aim is to reintegrate those learners back into an educational setting. If you’re keen to make a difference and are looking for a flexible and enjoyable career, then AP tutoring could be for you. 

AP tuition takes place through one-to-one lessons, either in person or online, and is delivered by tutors who either hold qualified teaching status or degrees in their subjects and who have extensive SEN expertise. 

Detailed information is provided about each AP learner, and from this, a tutor will write a bespoke individual learning plan (ILP) that meets the learner’s individual needs. 


Becoming an AP tutor

You’ll need relevant experience working with children with SEND, and experience working with children who have behavioural issues is beneficial. All AP tutors for Fleet receive accredited training in delivering effective tuition, safeguarding, and child protection.

Qualified teachers who are looking for a career change can be ideal candidates for AP. Although you do not need to be a qualified teacher, a degree in a relevant subject is required. AP tutoring can also be a career option for those with a social work background. 


Skills AP tutors need 

Prerequisites for AP tutors are good subject knowledge, a passion for teaching, adaptability and flexibility, and a professional but friendly manner. Additionally, excellent communication skills, as well as patience when working with students, are crucial for becoming a successful AP tutor.

AP tutor Grace believes tutors need to be “patient, adaptable, a team worker, and teachable.” She believes that a desire to make a positive impact on the learners is crucial and that tutors should have the “ability to study the learner to identify their strengths, what they enjoy doing, and then approach learning from there.”

Rory says that AP tutors need “a lot of patience, flexibility, and the ability to make people feel comfortable and relaxed.” To make tutoring sessions engaging, he recommends “taking a sincere interest in them and their life hobbies, understanding their way of thinking and challenges.” 

Dan believes that AP tutors need “a willingness to understand the learner and reflect in detail on the programme information and description of their background and educational attainment, as well as their interests and ways of working and communicating.” He also recommends that AP tutors keep up-to-date with relevant CPD, such as the Fleet Education Services courses, which cover SEN. 


The challenges

Steve, an AP tutor for Fleet, says, “working as an AP tutor involves working with many different learners with a variety of needs, typically with one thing in common, a breakdown in engagement with mainstream education.”

AP tutors are likely to work with learners who are disengaged from education. There are many potential causes of student disengagement, so relationship building, getting to know the learner, and establishing trust at the start of the programme is vital.

For disengaged pupils, Dan recommends adding, “A bit of humour, being easy-going, being attentive to verbal and non-verbal cues, not rushing students, asking about their enthusiasms.”

AP tutor Barbara thinks that empathy is key. She says, “I have great empathy for my students and don’t want them to make the same mistakes that I made as a young person.”

As programmes of learning are designed to meet the needs and interests of the individual, it is more likely that they will engage with learning. Fathi explains, “It is essential to understand the learner and to be patient if they have challenging behaviour. For my current autistic learner, it took several weeks to establish a good working relationship, now the learner treats me as a friend or a family member.”

Help is always on hand for AP tutors. As Steve explains, “Fleet provides widespread support to help tutors, including training, teaching resources, detailed reports on individual learners, invaluable guidance on strategies and teaching methods, as well as direct liaison with parents and carers.”

Measuring success

Traditional measures used to gauge pupil success and school performance might not be suitable when measuring the progress of students in AP programmes. Behaviour, engagement, and other elements come into play. As Grace says: “It takes time to see progress, but persistence is key.”

Steve explains that “sessions are usually on a one-to-one basis, which allows the tutor to respond to the specific needs of the learner. Of utmost importance is developing positive working relationships, primarily with the learner but also with parents, carers, and other professionals. An environment is then created where the learner feels comfortable, valued, and can thrive.”


The rewards of being an AP tutor

Without the right support for these learners, there is a real risk of permanent alienation from mainstream education, which makes AP tutoring a rewarding career. 

“I love making a difference in the lives of my learners. The reward I get is when I see them making progress and developing confidence in their learning,” says Grace. Rory also agrees. He explains: “It is very rewarding that you can make a difference, especially if they are someone who feels isolated or vulnerable. It is good to feel that you can break through, connect with them, and build a positive relationship that will build their confidence.”

He continues: “The challenges, I guess, are just learning to deal with the times when they feel awkward socially and perhaps can’t relate to you in the way that you may be hoping. But that is part of the reward in a way, that you can show empathy, and no judgement, accepting them for their uniqueness and aiming to make a contribution that will hopefully end positively.”

“The rewards are great, especially when there is an improvement, ”says Barbara.

Here are some of the successes our tutors have seen: 

“One of my learners could not engage, read, or write when he started. Now he engages well; enjoys the session; writes with finger spaces, and can read simple sentences.” 

“There was a breakthrough with one learner whose language and behaviour were difficult to manage but is now very grateful I did not ask to stop the tuition and is incredibly dedicated to it.” 

“One learner was very anti-school but enjoyed learning with me.  His mother thanked me not only for the teaching but for enabling him to see that re-engaging with education and going back to school was a good thing.”


Do you have what it takes?

One-to-one AP tuition helps learners gain trust and confidence in themselves and others and bridge the gaps in their learning. If you think you have what it takes to become an AP tutor, apply today: