When Dave Whitaker talks about a school having a challenging cohort he does so with a positive sense of excitement. And he describes these pupils as being “at the top end” rather than the bottom. Tes reports
As the director of learning at Wellspring Trust he is now responsible for an expanding group of special and alternative provision academies with, in his words, “hundreds and hundreds of challenging kids”.
Since it was set up the trust, which also operates 11 mainstream schools in the North of England, has never permanently excluded a pupil.
Whitaker and the Wellspring Trust are backing The Difference programme, which is just about to launch a scheme in the North allowing aspiring mainstream school leaders to gain valuable experience of pupil referral units. They will get to work in PRUs for two years to learn how they support their pupils before going on to mainstream school leadership roles.
“Saying kids are challenging is not writing them off,” he says. “It’s the other way round. I love them. Loved working with them. It’s the best job. The challenge is managing their personalities and their characters.”
Read more about the programme to involving school leaders and what has been achieved. How to teach challenging pupils and never exclude them
Would you like to be involved in The Difference programme? Should all school leaders spend time in PRU’s? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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