Just over three years ago I sent this email to Mary Myatt.

It resulted in five books about the curriculum in which we gave a platform to brilliant practitioners who were shaping curricula across the primary, secondary, special and alternative provision sectors.

The series is called Huh, because, when we interviewed colleagues for the first book, they said, repeatedly, that designing the curriculum was a never ending process; Huh is the Egyptian god of endlessness, creativity, fertility and regeneration, in our view a perfect deity for the curriculum. As you can see from the DMs below, we nearly called the first book the Janus Conversations; I, for one, am glad we didn’t…

 Our latest and last book in the series is AP Huh which will be signed off and sent for printing this coming week.

Several strands of thinking emerged as we conducted the interviews for AP Huh. The importance of celebrating the success of pupils in AP was emphasised repeatedly. As John D’Abbro pointed out, ‘Many of these youngsters have experienced what Hargreaves would call, “the destruction of their dignity,” and rebuilding their dignity begins with celebrating success’, any success. Indeed, Eugene Dwaah insists that his colleagues celebrate ‘every little success, even if it’s the minutest thing.’

The most important success for many pupils in AP is success in English and mathematics. Providers are clear that good levels of literacy and numeracy provide the foundations for everything else in the AP curriculum. There are some remarkable personal stories in this book. John D’Abbro’s account of his own struggle to read left us all in tears, and erstwhile army officer Neil Miller’s experience helping his soldiers read and write is remarkable.

Whilst the emphasis upon the core subjects in AP is similar to mainstream, there are crucial differences. The advantages of small classes and low teacher-pupil ratios is highlighted several times in the book. The children being educated in AP require a great deal of flexibility. Initially, their main need is often social and emotional. Until the children are ready to learn emotionally, there seems little point in insisting they engage in the academic. Small, flexible organisations like the ones featured in AP Huh can provide the environments the children need. Mainstream is not for every child, as Jess Mahdavi-Gladwell so brilliantly points out in her pithy aphorism, ‘It’s main-stream, not all-stream.’

Beyond SEMH, there is a complex relationship between AP and SEND provision. They are often conflated. When we interviewed people for the SEND Huh book, we were clearly talking about SEND and not about Alternative Provision. But when we interviewed colleagues about AP, there was suddenly an overlap. In several interviews, it is clear that the needs of young people are being met in diverse ways. And with growing numbers of children requiring provision different to the mainstream, many schools are beginning to set up alternative provision within mainstream settings.

A huge ‘thank you’ goes to all those colleagues working and learning in the alternative provision sector who volunteered their time to speak to us about their work. It has been a genuine privilege to engage in those conversations and to learn about how they develop the curriculum for children whose needs aren’t being met in mainstream provision. It has been both illuminating and humbling in equal measure; the Huh project has been a learning experience for us both, and it is fair to say we have learnt a huge amount from the interviews that comprise this latest and final book in the series. You can pre-order a copy of AP Huh here.

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This post has 1 Comment

  1. Hiya, I’m interested in pre ordering your books. Is there a way to order to the UK?

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