Alternative Provision Specialist Taskforce

PRU APST    Alternative Provision Specialist Taskforce at MSPRU


Along with 21 AP schools and PRUs nationally, MSPRU has received a direct grant for a pilot project, 2021-23, to co-locate specialist professionals at the PRU with the overarching aims of:

  • Reducing the risk of serious youth violence
  • Reducing the risk of NEET
  • Improving attendance
  • Improving mental health and wellbeing

Since July 21 we have been working to ensure that the project is fully compliant with DfE requirements and that work is clearly targeted in support of our pupils, their families and our staff.

PRU pupils have named our team PRU SMS- for when you need Social and Moral Support.

The PRU SMS Team

We have a team of specialist professionals who are now co-located with MSPRU. Most specialists are working part-time for PRU SMS, whilst still working for their own organisations. This allows for their supervision in the partner organisation as well as ensuring that existing offers of support to pupils are not compromised or duplicated.

Specialist workers include colleagues from: Health (SaLT), Complex Safeguarding, Youth Justice, Early Help, Remedi (Restorative Justice), Educational Psychology, Careers Connect and in addition a seconded Family Worker. We also have a Sports Mentor and 2 Engagement Workers who will be able to support pupils outside normal school hours. We have a school Counsellor and at the end of June 22 we will also be joined by CAMHS, offering assessment and an ADHD clinic.

This means that the team includes 19 specialist workers.

Oversight Board

Our project has an Oversight Board comprised of strategic leaders across the city. This Board will offer support and challenge to PRU SMS. Members of the Board include leaders from Manchester Metropolitan University, Youth Justice, MCC, Early Help, GMVRU, NHS, GMP, Complex Safeguarding, Remedi and ALONZI . The advantages of this Board will not only be in securing better shared understanding of the impact of the taskforce, but also in securing additional support from Board members who have specialisms in their fields. There are 3 key questions the Board will seek to answer:

What difference is PRU SMS making?

What difference do children and families feel this has made?

How do we know?

This Board will also explore any connectivity with the wider SAFE funding which has been allocated to Manchester LA, as well as any other projects and initiatives which are relevant.


Practice Model

In order to support such a wide range of professionals working together, and to ensure that MSPRU Vision and Values are understood by all, we were supported by Tom Lang (Head of Youth Justice) in designing a Practice Model. This established the guiding principles, behaviours and offers of the specialists within the team.

The support of specialists has been welcomed and members of PRU SMS are currently being introduced into Learning Centres. Alongside this we have planned CPD for staff around complex safeguarding and are taking specialists on a ‘roadshow’ across centres to support pupils in safety planning for the summer and beyond.

The Offer

We are continually seeking to ‘test and learn’, discussing and sharing good practice as well as exploring interventions.

Referral pathways have been secured, alongside appropriate information sharing, and our PRU SMS Multi-Disciplinary Team meets every Thursday to: discuss referrals, identify specialist intervention and update on cases. Referrals are currently made, following discussions of concerns with centre staff, through our PSO team. We also hope to secure opportunities for pupils to self-refer during the academic year 22-23.

We are taking a stepped approach to referral; in some cases, referrals are signposted back to Learning Centres to secure support from within MSPRU’s universal offer. This is to ensure that specialist support is not replacing or duplicating an offer that already exists within the school.

We are also working with PRU SMS colleagues and MSPRU leaders around capacity building in terms of CPD offers to the MSPRU staff, as well as group work sessions which will enhance our PSHRE curriculum.

As well as having access to MSPRU intelligence through co-location, specialists have access to cpoms, internal email and a shared drive. We ensure that lines of communication are clear, so that as well as referrals and intervention, all staff are updated in terms of individual cases.

Early Impacts

By May 22, 80 referrals had been made to PRU SMS. Approximately 50% of these included requests for Speech and Language assessment, so our SaLT colleagues are working to skill up MSPRU staff to undertake initial SaLT screening.

Intelligence from staff and pupils has been shared in relation to complex safeguarding and is contributing to city wide mapping for pupils at risk of serious youth violence.

Case studies are being developed.

Pupils with extremely low attendance are engaging well with our Sports Mentor and attend sessions on site as well as off site.

Specialists are supporting families to engage on site wherever possible, to encourage better connection with MSPRU.

Support has been secured from Prof. Smithson (MMU Dept Criminology and Youth Studies) for CPD on Trauma Informed Practice, and MMU Youth Advisory Group offer is being explored.

Group work on Safety Planning has been undertaken with pupils as a pilot and is being to be rolled out from Summer 22.

Planning is underway for Holiday Offers, using HAFP funding.


The project will be evaluated nationally by RAND, an organisation commissioned by the DfE who are working in partnership with the University of West Scotland. The baseline for this evaluation is a Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire to be completed by all pupils and completed a second time as an endline at the point at which a pupil leaves us.

In addition to evaluations to be formally completed, we hope to utilise MSPRU data (including NGRT/ PASS/ Attendance/ NEET) as well as case studies, to assess impacts of PRU SMS. We also hope to make use of city-wide data shared through SAFE work to better understand ‘hot spots’ for our pupils and to use the expertise held by our Oversight Board in terms of what works in intervention.

This project aims to deliver significantly improved outcomes for children and young people in Alternative Provisions and MSPRU is part of a group of schools which provide leadership and expertise across the whole school system to incentivise early support and to ensure stable and high-quality provision for those children and young people most at risk of disengaging from education.

It is also clear that many pupils in MSPRU have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), particularly social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH), and that we are increasingly operating as part of the SEND system. The DfE will also carefully look at how we can work together to improve outcomes as part of the ongoing SEND Review.


Barlow Hall Rd,
Manchester M21 7JJ

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