Progress Schools, a national education provider delivering Alternative Provision (AP) across 13 sites in England has recently launched its trail-blazing internship programme called In My Shoes. The internship programme, which is aimed at the likes of MPs, Peers, Ministers, and Civil Servants, calls on them to spend just one day attending a Progress School in order to gain an in-depth insight into the challenges and potential of some of the most vulnerable young people in society.
Alternative Provision aims to provide appropriate provision for every child, ensuring that they receive the support and structure needed to engage with their education, regardless of social or economic background.
Progress Schools MD Charlotte Barton said: “An ONS bulletin from November 2022 reported that a young person from a disadvantaged background is twice as likely to be long-term NEET compared to their better-off peers. And, as many of our sites are found in socially deprived areas, this is a massive challenge for us and the government. This is why I firmly believe that the In My Shoes programme is so vital, because only by listening can questions be asked, and only by understanding can positive change start to come about for our young people.”
The campaign, which officially launched in Westminster last week, has already received great support from a number of MPs who have a Progress School based in their constituency. Think-tank, The Centre for Social Justice, have also given their backing to the ground-breaking campaign.
During a visit to Parliament, leaders from Progress Schools met with cross party MPs to shine a light on the challenges facing students who attend Progress Schools, whilst highlighting the lasting positive impact alternative provision can have on their lives. But talking isn’t enough. Progress Schools wants to spearhead national action which sees Government recognise and appropriately invest in Alternative Provision, ultimately levelling up this educational playing field. By pledging just one day of their time to visit their local school and experience a typical day of a student, policy makers can have a profound, long-term positive impact on thousands of lives.
MPs who have already pledged their time by signing-up to the internship programme include James Grundy, MP for Leigh; John Stevenson MP for Carlisle; Jacob Young MP for Redcar; Nav Mishra MP for Stockport and Andy Carter, MP for Warrington South and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Alternative Provision.
Talking of the ground-breaking programme, John Stevenson said: “Progress Schools and other Alternative Provision settings like them do wonderful work which I look forward to seeing first-hand when I attend my local Progress School in Carlisle to walk in the shoes of the young people there. It is vitally important that we shine a spotlight on such initiatives because only by coming together to address some of the challenges facing young people in AP, can we really begin to make a difference.”
The pioneering programme will commence in February and run throughout England. During this time, government representations from cross party will be invited to pledge their time, and see things differently.