I hope to look back in years to come and see this as an important moment for so-called “unregistered” Alternative Provision when the sector was able to step forward and assert its centrality to the education of children for whom mainstream education is inadequate.

We at ALIGN believe firmly that Alternative Provision is essential in meeting the needs of thousands of children who would otherwise be lost to education; we also know that we are doing brilliant, innovative work which creates outcomes for children which would have been unimaginable to those who knew them before AP.

At ALIGN we think it’s time the AP community develops the self-confidence its reach and high standards merit. We want to create a space where ideas can be explored, best practice shared, and collaboration encouraged. If a national framework is to be developed, who better to create structures which recognise the range and diversity of need and provision than those with insight borne out of experience on the ground? According to Bell Hooks, critical thinkers working with issues of pedagogy must combine:

“theory and practice in order to affirm and demonstrate pedagogical practices engaged in creating a new language, rupturing disciplinary boundaries, decentering authority, and rewriting the institutional and discursive borderlands in which politics becomes a condition for reasserting the relationship between agency, power, and struggle.”

I find Hooks’ pedagogy so thrilling. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t convinced of the power of education in building social change, and Hooks speaks to that so eloquently. In her model of community and recognition of the individual voice, Hooks sees opportunities to enhance our ‘intellectual development’ as human beings and ‘our capacity to live more fully in the world’. 

Hooks’ vision emerged out of her life as a pupil in segregated Kentucky; it resonates with my experience, though as an educator and a school leader in settings outside the mainstream in 21st century Britain.

I want to propose that the AP sector can take inspiration from Hooks’ call to embrace the strength and purpose we share and in doing so effect the recognition we deserve and assert the authority we rightly hold.

A small group of AP colleagues working outside of the Ofsted framework have come together on LinkedIn to develop ALIGN. We recognised in each other’s posts a passion for AP and started interesting and exciting conversations. In after work Teams meetings we have discovered a shared commitment to ‘creating a new language [for AP] … decentring authority and rewriting the institutional and discursive borderlands …’ We would be delighted for you to join us in this, what Hooks calls the ‘mapping out of the terrains of commonality’.

Dr Catherine Brennan, Founding Member ALIGN