AP Specialist Partnership


Alternative Provision Specialist Partnership at MSPRU 

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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 the Project Co-ordinator, Ged Deeney, and Strategic Lead, Jane Parkinson, have been working to ensure that the project is fully compliant with DfE requirements and that work is clearly targeted in support of pupils, their families and MSPRU staff. Ged regularly reports to the DfE Finance Team, as well as meeting DfE colleagues working in regional support. 

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The Team 

Ged Deeney has secured, through both secondment and SLAs with agencies, specialist professionals who are now co-located with MSPRU. Most specialists are working part-time for the APST, whilst retaining caseloads in their own organisations. This allows for 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. Ged has also secured a Sports Mentor and is seeking to recruit 2 Engagement Workers who will be able to support pupils outside normal school hours.  

During the summer term, we will also be joined by CAMHS, offering assessment and an ADHD clinic, and a school Counsellor.  

Initially, the DfE envisaged co-located specialists working full time, however, given the challenges in recruitment nationally, specialists agencies have supported us with secondments which are part time, and with more than one professional. This means that the team will include 19 specialist workers. In addition, the project has built momentum such that other organisations are lending direct support through their own offers with closer connectivity to our multi-disciplinary team, for example Children’s Society. 

Oversight Board 

Support has been secured, with the help of Julie Heslop (MSPRU Gov), from an Oversight Board comprised of strategic leaders across the city. This Board will offer support and challenge to the APST. 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. The inaugural meeting took place in Feb 22 and agreed to keep at the forefront of work 3 key questions; What difference is the APST 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. 

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. We are currently working on a child and family friendly version of this model, which will be easily identified, and are seeking support from our pupils to establish a more appropriate name for the Taskforce. 

The APST has now been formally launched to MSPRU staff (Mar 22), through presentations to both our PSO team (who are currently managing referrals) and to the wider school. The support of specialists has been welcomed and members of the APST are currently being introduced into Learning Centres. 

The Offer 

We are currently in a ‘test and learn’ phase, discussing and sharing good practice as well as exploring interventions. 

Referral pathways have been secured, alongside appropriate information sharing, and our APST 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 in discussion with APST 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. They are beginning to work across sites, both in intervention and in fostering a sense of joint working. Work is being undertaken to 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 

57 referrals have been made to the APST. Approximately 50% of these include 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 and are to be shared with DfE. The template for case studies was devised at KS3 of MSPRU and has been shared nationally. 

Pupils with extremely low attendance have engaged well with our Sports Mentor and have attended 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. 

Planning is underway for a pilot Holiday Offer 


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 the APST. 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 information held by our Oversight Board in terms of what works in intervention. 

Barlow Hall Rd,
Manchester M21 7JJ

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