New programme from the National Literacy Trust supports girls in alternative provision education

The National Literacy Trust has developed an inspiring new programme, Represent, for girls aged 11 to 14 in alternative provision, who have been excluded from, or who are at risk of being excluded from mainstream education. 

Government data shows that in the 2019/2020 academic year, 1,200 girls were permanently excluded from school in the UK. It is important to make sure these young women do not slip through gaps in the education system, and that they are equipped with the skills needed for a successful future. Literacy is essential to succeed in life, opening up employment opportunities, enabling young people to engage with the community, and increasing social mobility. 

Thanks to funding support from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the National Literacy Trust is able to offer the Represent programme for free. Represent’s summer programme has already reached over 125 educational settings and over 1,250 pupils.  

The programme is suitable for mainstream secondary schools and alternative provision settings and enables teachers, teaching assistants and sports coaches from football club foundations to support vulnerable girls and young women through this 10-session programme that has been tailored to their needs. 

Represent uses specially curated texts to engage these girls and young women in discussions about stories shared, encouraging a deeper understanding of the work, as well as supporting literacy skills development. The selection of diverse, empowering texts was carefully chosen to allow the young women to see themselves reflected in the content.  

The programme supports teachers and educators by offering free training, teachers’ notes and student workbooks, a free set of books for each group, access to bespoke author events and premium membership of the National Literacy Trust for one year. Each session is one hour long and can fit in flexibly with any teaching schedule.  

Represent has been rolled out already for the summer 2022 term, with new resources to be provided for autumn term 2022 and spring term 2023. 

Speaking about their involvement in the programme this term Alexandra Overton, an English teacher from the South West, said that the lessons in the Represent programme “created such deep passionate discussion”, while the head of English at a London pupil referral unit currently taking part in the programme said: “I’ve been inspired to create an oracy curriculum for our pupil referral unit after the training received through Represent.” 

Jim Sells, programme manager, sport and literacy at the National Literacy Trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer the Represent programme to schools and alternative provision settings. This programme is helping to improve girls’ communication and literacy skills, resilience, sense of wellbeing and increase their understanding of how to form positive relationships.  

“We understand that young people who have been or might be excluded often feel the effect of exclusion deeply. Through meaningful discussion and positive activities, Represent helps girls and young women discover the benefits of learning, make them feel valued and included and provide them with life skills essential for reaching their full potential.” 

To find out more about the programme and to register your interest, sign up here: 

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