Pupils educated other than at school often miss out on the benefits of a broad curriculum and specialist support - which can have a negative impact on their future education and employment prospects.
Estyn’s report, Education other than at school (EOTAS), looks at the education of pupils of compulsory school age who receive all or most of their education outside school. Inspectors found that pupil attendance, behaviour and motivation often improve, helped by stimulating vocational experiences and pupils’ improved relationships with their peers and staff. However, there is too much variation in the quality of experiences and a lack of specialist staff and facilities means that:
pupils can miss out on subjects like science
they may not receive full‑time education
opportunities to continue Welsh-medium learning are limited
pupils with additional learning needs may not receive the specialist support they need
Meilyr Rowlands, Chief Inspector, says, “All children and young people are entitled to a broad education, regardless of the setting. Pupils who are excluded from school, refuse to attend school, or have challenging behaviour linked to social or emotional difficulties, often have significant gaps in their learning, low self-esteem, and limited aspirations for their future.
“Education outside the mainstream school system offers these pupils a second chance to succeed and the skills they develop play a crucial role in enabling them to access further training or employment.”
Local authorities play a key role in arranging appropriate education other than at school for pupils. Generally, they do not have robust systems that make sure these pupils receive good quality teaching and support.
The report highlights several examples of effective education other than at school. For example, a ‘Motivate and Learn’ project gives pupils interested in sport the chance to learn and get work experience at a professional sports club. In a rural area, pupils receive vocational training in woodland crafts and gain qualifications relevant to local employment opportunities.
The report contains recommendations for local authorities and schools, including the need to work together to ensure that all education other than at school provides pupils with an appropriate breadth and quality of curriculum opportunities, qualifications and support.