Mary Myatt and I have just signed off the proofs for our final book in the Huh curriculum series – Alternative Provision Huh.

Interviewing so many disparate educationalists working in AP reminded me of Charlie Leadbeater and his book We-Think (2009). Fifteen years ago, Leadbeater wrote about the impact the internet was having on the mainstream media. He saw the BBC and other huge media “boulders” being undermined and, ultimately, changed forever by the world wide web, where “pebble” platforms like YouTube were encouraging “mass creativity and innovation”. No-one had to pitch their ideas to a TV executive any longer; they could just upload their work for the whole world to see.

I recall Leadbeater’s metaphor, because I have a hunch a similar process might just be happening to the school system.  The big “boulders” of education – mainstream schools – are being forced to rethink their role. The pandemic altered the social contract between home and school. To increasing numbers of parents, the requirement for their children to attend school no longer seems to be the unquestioned imperative it once was. And the progressively sophisticated online curriculum provision engendered by the mass closure of schools during the Covid crisis, means that children can now learn from home in a meaningful way. Furthermore, they don’t feel the need, like they once did, to go to school to see their mates – they can “see” them online whenever they like.

Indeed, some children with autism spectrum condition truly loved the lockdown and learning online. They didn’t have to contend with the busyness and unpredictability of a school, with its numerous, random human interactions. They loved the regularity of their day. And the megatrend towards increasing individualisation suggests that the demand from growing numbers of individual children for their individual educational needs to be met will only continue to grow.

In February 2024, the DfE admitted that “it is difficult to get a complete view of the AP sector.” They estimated that “there were 67,600 AP placements in January 2023.”[1] The UK Parliament’s Research Briefing published in December 2023 acknowledged that “it is not known how many children are home educated in England.”[2] Estimates are just shy of 100,000 children. Assuming there is no overlap between those in AP placements and those being home-educated, that is more than 167 average sized secondary schools – 167 educational “boulders” – which have been shattered into 167,000 individuals with unique needs. Eugene Dwaah’s Evolution Education is one of many pebble-sized organisations helping meet those needs. What I learned from the experts we interviewed for AP Huh tells me we’ll need many more Evolution Educations in the future.

If our big educational “boulders” are going to remain intact, they will have to innovate. In next weekend’s post, I will explain how Sarah Jones is taking her learning from working in the AP sector back into mainstream, where she believes we have the “power to make schools more inclusive, more welcoming, fairer, and more loving and kind.”



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