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Daren Fairhurst

Customer Relationship Executive

Surrey County Council webinar

AEP webinar series extracts

For the first webinar of our Alternative Education Provision webinar series, we were joined by:

Susanna Mackie- Technical Manager of Surrey online School 

Sarah Simpson- Programme and Learning Co-ordinator of Surrey online school 

The following is abridged for clarity: 

“Surrey is obviously a very large county and Local authority and there are over 500 schools. 300 or so primaries, 56 maintained secondaries and we’ve got 7 PRUs and at last count I think it was about 18 specialist schools…. Out of the secondary maintained schools, I think every single one has used us at some point… We effectively act as like a Broker for Tute lessons, so we’re the Surrey contacts, so we are able to give schools what they need. We also support Surrey Council Services so for children who aren’t in school of which there are unfortunately quite a few… we’ve got inclusion services, or education welfare as they used to be here, our SEN department, access to education which is sort of an internal alternative provision for want of a better term and virtual school so all of those teams as well they will often have children as well that need some kind of provision and they will come to us to find something appropriate for them, often very quickly.” 

“The numbers started off quite low, but they’ve increased…the demand hugely increased for 2021-22 and then this year…we’ve just had so many numbers, so many referrals. The demand is up by 150%.”

“There’s not really a set profile for our students, most are sort of covered by “vulnerable children,” but some examples are we get a lot of medical students, students awaiting placement because they’ve been awarded an EHCP, school refusers, also behaviour; we get prevent PEX (permanent exclusions) or students that have been permanently excluded, anxiety is a very large cohort with us, a lot of students, through covid, have been suffering with their mental health issues and actually through going back to school after covid, children who are electively home educated, LACs (Children looked after, respite and trauma and generally students can’t meet students needs…. We have seen an increase in anxiety and EBSNA (emotionally based school non-attendance) and mental health issues since covid…  These students have always been there, but there’s definitely been a huge increase as well and I think there will continue to be so for the next few years.”  

“Some students if they are preventing permanent exclusion or they’ve been excluded (Day 6 provision), schools and families they want something quick as well; it need to be a quick solution…  Once we’ve got the information over to Tute they are set up within 48 hours, sometimes quicker.” 

“We also use the online learning for our ESOL students as well. We’ve commissioned for our virtual school for the cohort of unaccompanied asylum seekers; children we’ve commissioned courses for them as well because they need to be able to access quality ESOL provision very quickly so that they can integrate into society more easily as well. We find its very cost effective.” 

“The Tute virtual school LA timetable that’s very quick, short-term; the curriculum’s are there-we can share them with our schools; we’ve got a portal that schools access so that they know what’s coming up on the schemes of learning.” 

“We also are able to refer students for the courses and commission private courses and we call it the full package which is blended alternative provision with one of our Surrey services which is call access to education, so students will be placed with them and they will have three days where they’re accessing core curriculum subjects in commissioned classes leading to GCSE qualifications which they’ll sit generally at their own school where they’re on role at but unable to access and then they’ll have two days where they will have a face to face provision from a mentor or an access to education teacher or at a hub; it really depends on the needs of the child. We are very child focused as well. That works really, really well.” 

“SEND; more and more we’re trying to find provision (again, lack of appropriate placements, students still want to be able to sit GCSEs or A-Levels so we’re getting lots more young people needing to be able to access quality teaching to be able to sit their GCSES on a set curriculum.” 

“It covers a lot. A lot of children, a lot of scenarios.”   

“We began to trial Tute lessons in July 2015 and then it progressed into actually starting the academic year in September 2015 and we’ve carried on since then…. We came across Tute, worked very closely with them and its been an ongoing relationship with them since.  It kind of feels like a wider team really as well, because we’ve been with them so long and developed and… if there’s need for something they’re very approachable… often at short notice or something that’s quite complex, we’ll have discussions, look at what’s needed… you know especially talking about things like the unaccompanied asylum seekers, you know, just things like that.” 

“The original contract expired a couple of years ago and we had to go out to retender and Tute successfully won it again as well.  It’s worth mentioning that we have a good relationship and it works really well, very well.” 

“Safeguarding as well… that’s obviously very important for us… the common theme with our students is that they are generally vulnerable children and to know that its very robust policies in place and procedures and recording and everything it’s very reassuring. The reporting is outstanding for safeguarding.” 

“There’s a dashboard where we can easily see the attendance and a nice, snazzy power BI option as well so it’s really easy to do a quick find the attendance and see that information as well…as soon as the teacher is aware that a student hasn’t logged into the lesson, the notifications come from Tute.” 

 To hear more from Surrey Online school, watch their Alternative Education Provision Webinar with Tute here:

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