Former policeman leading the transformation of alternative education provision in Leeds

A senior leader at an academy in Leeds has been re-elected to chair a body set up to improve the quality of alternative provision in education across the city.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 4:45 am

Lee Garner is a former police officer who joined the White Rose Academies Trust in 2018 to lead their work on alternative provision and is an associate assistant principal. He will serve a second one-year term beginning in September on the Leeds Alternative Provision Association (LAPA).

It was formed in April last year, and is a not-for-profit unincorporated association with the aim of bringing alternative provision (schools for children and young people who cannot attend mainstream schools for illness or other reasons) experts from across the city together with a mission to improve the quality of provision on offer in Leeds and the outcomes for young people who attend those provisions.

Mr Garner has served as chair of the association since April 2020 and together with Jo Pittard, Executive Principal from Delta Academies Trust and Vice Chair of LAPA, he led the organisation as it researched and published a report intended to support school leaders to reintegrate the most complex and vulnerable children after the national lockdown.

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The Leeds East academy where Lee Garner brought about significant changes in results and exclusion rates.

At the most recent LAPA leadership election last month, Ms Pittard was succeeded as Vice Chair by Carl Harrison, CEO of LS-TEN, a Leeds based independent school providing alternative provision.

Mr Garner said: "It is a fantastic honour for me to receive the backing of such high caliber members for another term. I have a enormous respect for the work of the Alternative Provision sector.

"But more importantly, I care deeply about the children and young people in Leeds who can’t go to a mainstream school. The Leeds Alternative Provision Association brings together local sector experts with a shared mission to improve the quality of education and outcomes for those very children.

"Nationally every year, 54 per cent of young people in Alternative Provision are not in education, employment or further training after Year 11. That’s tragic. We need to change that.”

Lee Garner.

Looking to the next term, Mr Garner has outlined three key priorities for LAPA in Leeds which are to, intensify the collaboration with key stakeholders in the city - Local Authority, Alternative Provision providers, third sector organisations, FE providers, employers and mainstream schools; carry out extensive research into outstanding practice in similar settings to inform high quality CPD/shared learning and strategic partnerships, establishing a strong culture of continuous improvement in the Leeds Alternative Provision sector - meaning more Leeds children can access the best Alternative Provision when they need it and are able to move on to the next phase; to give a voice to the children, young people and families in Alternative Provision; upholding their rights and interests, wherever possible - this means challenging, at every opportunity, the negative language and practices that sometimes characterise the sector - “off-rolling”, “illegal schools” and so on.

With the LAPA leadership election now complete, the members will meet in July to ratify their agreed vision and purpose in the 2021/22 academic year.

LAPA membership is diverse and experts include educational psychologists, local authority representatives, headteachers and specialist leaders of education from alternative provision and other specialist settings.

Leeds based White Rose Academies Trust focuses on raising ambitions, engaging local communities and rapid school improvement. The Trust consists of three secondary schools - Leeds City Academy, Leeds East Academy and Leeds West Academy, and also recently welcomed its first primary school Mill Field Primary Academy in December.