A Day in the Life of an Alternative Provision Educator

Adrian left a business role after the pandemic and always wanted to go into education. He has an English degree and spent his gap year teaching English to children overseas. “Besides supporting Alternative Provision (AP) learners, I volunteer for a charity and also help my brother with his business two days a week.”


Adrian’s Diary

9:30 am: I have breakfast before checking my emails. There’s a SEND Continuous Professional Development (CPD) module available on Fleet’s training website, so I schedule time in my diary to complete that next week. The Quality Assurance team at Fleet ensure educators are aware of the CPD opportunities available and send regular invitations to complete courses.

9:50 am: I reply to an email from my Tuition Consultant. I speak with him before and during my assignments. He is so approachable, and I can email or call him when important things arise and need to be dealt with. This time he emailed me to see how I was going with learner X who was not engaging. On our first meeting, he slammed the door and said, “I don’t need tutoring.” However, this term, things have turned around. I’m happy to report that I’ve not had any issues since.

10 am: I see what lessons I have planned for the day and check I have all resources. One of the key benefits of our bespoke approach to education is that each child receives a curriculum that is tailored to their individual needs. We consider their strengths and challenges, as well as their interests, ensuring that they are receiving an education that is best suited to them.

10.30 am: I get ready for the gym. It’s only a ten-minute walk, which I jog to and from as a warm-up and cool-down. Today I’ll spend 30 minutes doing weights. It sets me up for the rest of the day.

11:45 am: I pack my teaching bag. As most of my learners have special educational needs (SEN), I always carry some fidget toys and a collection of highlighters and Sharpies, as well as plain paper for mind-mapping. I have extensive SEN expertise, so I’m always ready to adapt my approach.

12.40 pm: After lunch, I drive to my first learner’s location, which is only a 15-minute drive away. We meet in a library that Fleet has arranged, and it is quiet on a Wednesday afternoon. Part of my role is to motivate learners to learn and develop their self-confidence, and I’ve seen a positive change in learner X. To begin with, this learner was disengaged. They have a lot going on at home.

1 pm: The first five minutes of the session are a struggle. One thing I learned early is that if a learner feels closed off to you, try to open them up through social communication about hobbies, interests, and what they have done over the past week for a few minutes. This tends to steer them in a more positive direction.

When a learner is disengaged, I break things down as simply as possible. Today, the main objective for this learner is to get them to write a story and express their emotions or feelings through writing, using expressions and language. I praise them when they write their first page of A4 without interruption and produce a story!

For the session, I use ideas around Metacognition theory, where I encourage the learner to understand how they learn and what works for them.  This enables them to understand their strengths and weaknesses and together we can develop strategies to overcome challenges.

2: pm: The lesson is an hour, but I usually end up being there for ten minutes more for a chat with the learner. Building trust, getting to know the whole child, and understanding their struggles help to develop collaborative ways of working. It can have amazing results.

2:10 pm: I decide to use the library to do some administrative work. There isn’t too much as an educator for Fleet, unlike my friend, who is a teacher! I check my email to see that I’d been selected to support another student. The Tuition Consultants at Fleet match the most appropriate educators for their learners, and it’s great to know I have a new learner for five hours a week next month.

2:20 pm:  AP providers need to have robust tracking and progress reporting systems and Fleet has a great programme called STEPS (Student and Tutor Educational Performance System). It’s easy to use and measures progress, behaviour, attendance, engagement and attainment.

Half-termly updates take place against the learning plan, and the educator provides progress updates. I write my progress report for learner X. Attendance has been excellent so far, they only missed one session as they caught COVID. Their behaviour is documented, and I have no issues to report. Their engagement has been good, and when I reassess the learner and measure their progress against set targets, I’m pleased. All stakeholders have access to STEPS reports, and I’m sure when they read the report they are going to be impressed.

2:40 pm: I set some new targets for the next six weeks for learner X. I see my new learner has been set up on the system by the Tuition Consultant. To start the process, each learner completes an online assessment. I will use that to design a bespoke learning plan that will guide each tuition session.

2.45 pm: The secure online tuition platform enables me to share learning resources, including a whiteboard, a text editor, and other interactive tools to make learning engaging.

I check my emails again and see that next week I’m going to be assessed by Fleet’s Quality Assurance department. I’m not nervous about it as I’m making good progress with all my learners. Plus, it’s good to get feedback.

2:55 pm: I head to a school, which is a 25-minute drive away. I play Spotify en route. Usually, I listen to a podcast, but last week, learner Y was talking about their favourite band, so I decided to give them a listen.

3:25 pm: Sessions often take place outside of the school, but as AP aims to help learners reintegrate into mainstream education, learner Y’s stakeholders have decided a school classroom is a good option. On Wednesdays, most of the school is finished by 3 p.m., apart from a few sports teams.

My current learner has not spent much time in mainstream education. They are in foster care and have a number of neurodiverse conditions including recently diagnosed dyslexia and ADHD.  He is registered to do GCSE Maths, English and computer science.

I start the session by telling him I listened to the band he likes, and he asks me what I think and says, “I’m probably too old to enjoy it.” I tell him I am 31 not 101, and he laughs. Learner Y will try to stall time and distract me from teaching, but I decide, as I’m an English educator, to speak about the lyrics in his favourite track. Fortunately, the lyrics are PC (I did check there was no offensive language in advance). Within minutes, we are talking about poetry and I’ve found using their interests is an effective way in engaging a learner.

4 pm: Halfway through the lesson, I’m covering examination preparation with Worlds and Lives. It’s a modern collection of poems that includes some well-known names and new voices. Two-thirds of the poems in this collection were published after 2000. And while modern, the poems are rooted in the revolutionary spirit of the Romantics, surprisingly sparking Learner Y’s interest in poetry.

4:20 pm: Learner Y is distracted by the school cleaners passing the classroom. We only have ten minutes left, so I pull out the coloured Sharpies and a glossy sheet of paper. I ask learner Y to draw a mindmap to highlight the key themes in the poems we discussed. He is creative, and with ADHD, he can have periods of deep focus if he is engaged enough.

4:35 pm: The lesson has ended. It’s hard to get him to stop mind-mapping, so I carry on talking for a few minutes about GCSEs. His foster carer calls to say they are ready to give them a lift home. I tell learner Y that I will give the second album a listen on my drive home, and he warns me that “Sir, it isn’t as good as the first.” I tell him that is often the case, and tidy up the classroom.

4:40 pm: I write up my report straight away. I often do that at home in the evening, but I’m finding it more time-effective to do it straight after the session. I’m impressed with the progress so far, and I think the learner’s teacher will be too. I’m concerned about the exams learner Y has coming up, as learner Y will struggle to sit for a long time to do an exam paper, and with 25% more time for dyslexia, the exam days will be long.

4:45 pm: I give my Tuition Consultant a call, and he says he will advise his foster parents (one is a teacher, bonus) to monitor him to complete an exam practice paper in one sitting. AP needs to enable students to overcome barriers to attainment and obtain qualifications.

During assignments, Tuition Consultants are quick to respond and provide guidance with any difficulties. There is sometimes some contact when an assignment has finished just to discuss what went well and not so well, and what further action may be needed.

5 pm: I finish my report and drive to see a friend. It takes me around 20 minutes to get there, which is faster than usual.

5.20 pm: My friend is a teacher that has recently arranged an NTP programme, and although we don’t talk about our pupils (as we respect their privacy), she does tell me how much benefit she is seeing from her pupils that are having additional tutoring. It’s nice to have a friend in education, as my peers are in corporate jobs. Plus, it’s good to enjoy a pub garden for half an hour before the sun goes down. In my last role, I worked until six!

7 pm: Arrive home. I have one session tomorrow with learner Z, who is working towards their A-level English. I enjoy supporting A-level learners. Learner Z is currently unable to attend college on medical grounds but is, fortunately, making a good recovery.

7.10 pm: I write their lesson plan before dinner. Working one to one allows the educator to really get to know the learner, know their strengths, weaknesses, interests and where the gaps in their knowledge lie. Sessions can then be planned to address their specific needs, using teaching methods tailored to the learner.

8 pm: Chill for the evening and watch Netflix. At my old job, I didn’t get back from London until now, so I appreciate these evenings that I have to myself!


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