Alternative Provision


How the Unit Award Scheme (UAS) helps your learners

  • Rewards students for short units of work.
  • Provides the building blocks of a broad and balanced alternative curriculum.
  • Supports, motivates and gives a positive experience of learning.
  • Can be used as a stepping stone to other awards and or qualifications.
  • Can help improve life chances.
  • Provides clear short or long term accreditation pathways to meet individual student needs.

Did you know?

  • Any age or ability can use UAS.
  • You can write your own units.
  • UAS offers units that are relevant, accessible and achievable.
  • UAS offers the opportunity to recognise achievements in areas outside the standard core curriculum subjects.

Examples of some of the many units you can use

Case Study: The Link Centre, Belfast

Vivien Stark, Senior Teacher says:

The Education Authority Belfast Region's Secondary Pupil Support Service (SPSS) is situated at the Link Centre, Belfast.

SPSS provides advice to 17 mainstream schools in Belfast on the management of pupils aged 11-16 with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Many of our pupils come from a background that could diminish their life chances. Per annum, we strive to counter this by outreach work with approx 700 pupils requiring support to maintain their mainstream school place and by part time placement at the Link Centre for up to fifteen KS3 pupils and ten KS4 pupils.

During placement, pupils continue to attend their own school every week and statutory assessment is carried out there. In addition to robust Link Centre reporting and review mechanisms, summative assessment is achieved through the AQA Unit Award Scheme. Reports positively reinforce, offer constructive criticism and focus on each pupil's experiences of success and, importantly, the steps necessary to build on these. The AQA UAS helps to develop the self-esteem and confidence of reluctant learners. The stand alone, achievable units of work are ideal.

In December 2014 we were rated outstanding in all areas by ETI (Education and Training Inspectorate, Northern Ireland equivalent of Ofsted). Without doubt our results on curriculum, were due to our use of the AQA Unit Award Scheme. Our twenty-three pupils last year achieved 281 passes between them in AQA units. We highly recommend these units. Some we have picked from the many on offer, some we have minor amended and others we have written ourselves. This flexibility is a real advantage of the scheme.

Schools may also refer pupils to the Link Centre for personalised education programmes and complementary therapies. Again, we use the AQA UAS to enhance learning on these programmes. There really is a unit available for everything. Further support is offered to senior pupils through a young men's group and a young women's group. Several units are also achieved by these groups.

Our assessor is Pete Wardle. What can we say? He is utterly professional and understands the needs of our pupils and the Link Centre setting. He is super efficient, processes our units swiftly, makes sure we have updates to procedures and always ensures that pupils' certificates and letters of achievement are issued promptly. What a star! We then forward AQA documents to pupils' mainstream schools for presentation in assembly and for safe keeping in their record of achievement.

All AQA administration is thorough and efficient. It is a completely user-friendly service with staff members happy to help at the end of the phone or online. We believe the scheme is value for money and a most important part of our work.

Case Study: On Track Education

On Track set up its first alternative education centre in 2005 for young people who were struggling to sustain a full-time place in a mainstream school; some were school refusers, others were 'at risk of exclusion', a few had medical problems while others were placed at On Track because it was the only provision which provided suitable educational interventions for their special needs. 

On Track decided to offer more than the National Curriculum and utilised UAS to create an exceptionally broad and balanced alternative curriculum, (judged by Ofsted as 'outstanding') where the teaching staff select suitable units of work (academic, vocational and leisure), to meet the needs of the individual students with whom they work.

Student places are commissioned by Local Authorities and mainstream schools and academies.

Because a few students may only be placed at On Track for a few weeks due to re-integration plans to place them back into mainstream, the short, attainable UAS units not only demonstrate and evidence achievement but also student engagement and motivation. Most students return to mainstream with a much more positive outlook on their educational prospects.

For students who remain at On Track for a year or longer, UAS helps to support learning and achievement along other accreditation routes including GCSEs and other level 1 and 2 qualifications.

On Track now have six schools around the country successfully using UAS.

Case Study: LiveSchool (Learning In Virtual Environments School)

LiveSchool is an e-learning virtual school (set up in 2006) which has used UAS to accredit work for several years. Young people complete set tasks at home or at other suitable venues where they can access the internet (eg libraries and hospital wards).

The young people have access to experienced qualified teachers 'on line' during the school day who support the education of their students by providing online topic based activities and tasks based on the requirements of each unit.

The LiveSchool teachers create step by step worksheets, PowerPoint presentations and resources for individual students. These activities lead to the completion of selected UAS units.

Selected units also support the delivery of GCSEs and other qualifications.

Communication is 1:1 (private tuition) through email correspondence, teacher produced Power Point presentations, instructions and guidance, assessment, marking and feedback.

LiveSchool places are commissioned by schools, Local Authority departments (EOTAS – Education Other Than At School) and parents and carers who home educate.

Students of any age or ability may join LiveSchool and the staff will do all they can to ensure successful completion and accreditation of the selected units.

What users have said about LiveSchool

A student says:

"My final maths exam is tomorrow and Tuesday is my R.E exam and then that's it, while I'm replying I would just like to thank you all for helping me learn and sending me work since February it has helped a lot and I do appreciate thank you so much :) THANK YOU"

A parent says:

"Thank you so much. I really appreciate all that you have done and the prompt replies to all my questions."