The YMCA Alternative Suspension programme (AS) launched in YMCA Dublin in 2021. We provide essential support to students who have been temporarily suspended from school and/or may be at risk of suspension.
Based on a YMCA Canadian model, the programme aims to reduce the number of repeat suspensions by giving students the opportunity to transform their time away from school into a positive experience that fosters personal development and autonomy.
The curriculum consists of schoolwork to ensure they are not falling behind when they return to school, individual assistance, educational workshops, and complimentary group activities, all of which take place in the YMCA. The time away from school is designed to confront a range of issues that referred students may be experiencing. Students are referred from a number of partner schools across Dublin 2, 8, 9 & 12.
- To understand student’s attitudes towards school and identify what they value and what motivates them.
- Help students get through a crisis period, in a manner that is constructive and beneficial to them.
- Development of personal and social skills through workshops adapted to the students’ realities and applicable to their school context.
- Promote the development of self-esteem and personal autonomy in participants.
- For students to catch up and stay up to date on their school work.
What are some of the reasons students may be referred to the programme for?
Alternative Suspension is not just for students who have been suspended, it is also for students who may need to take the time away from the school environment but not fall behind in school work, this preventative measure could be valuable to them.
How long is the Alternative Suspension Programme?
The programme is 3 days minimum and can be extended up to 7 days. The reason for the 3 days is to have participants cool down, reflect on what got them referred to the programme and then to make a commitment to change. Having 3 days minimum means that we can journey with that student.
What does the day look like?
The programme will run from 9.00am – 2.15pm with participants arriving from 9am to register and if they want to, have breakfast which will be provided.
9.00am: Participants arrive and register.
9.15am – 11.15am: Participants will complete schoolwork that has been assigned to them by their school.
11.15am – 12.00pm: Lunch (food will be provided)
12.00pm – 2.15pm: Workshops
2.15pm – 2.30pm: Participants finish up and leave.
What is individual assistance and will every participant have that?
Individual assistance will begin on the first day while participants are doing their schoolwork and will continue throughout their time on the programme. These sessions are short and are there to help the young person to explore how they are doing and what got them referred to the programme.
What workshops will be facilitated?
We want to make sure that the workshops are on topics that are relevant to the group and why the referral form and the individual sessions are so important. It gives us an idea of the issues that are presented with that particular group. There are workshops on conflict management, respecting authority figures, motivation and even some workshops where they have to work as a team.
What happens after a young person finishes in the programme?
When a young person completes their time in the programme a reintegration meeting will happen the following morning with the school along with the parents, and any other support the young person has. It is during that short meeting that the young person lets everyone know how they got on and how they want to move forward. The hope is that the school, the YMCA and parents discuss what we can put in place to further help the young person.
Can a young person be referred to the Alternative Suspension Programme more than once?
Yes. We want to provide a service that supports young people who need to step away from the school community. A young person may be referred to us more than once for different reasons.
How long does it take from when a Student gets referred to the Alternative Suspension Programme?
There are a number of factors that contribute to this; the day of the week that it us, whether we get a call before the school day starts or late in the day. If we are at max capacity we will need to discuss that with the school and see if they would be open to deferring the referral for a day or 2 when we have space. We do keep a couple of spaces for emergency referrals.