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, 6W, 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?
How long is the Alternative Suspension Programme?
We have students on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays from 9.30am. We are open to having students longer and we have begun to incorporate additional support for students who have completed their participations.
While students are with us, we ask what support from us could help them over a longer period of time. We discuss this with the school, parents and student and if everyone is in agreement, the student can come to AS 1 day a week for a period of 4-6 weeks. They have signed an agreement plan to continue to work on what they have written in the plan. This has been a really important step for us as it means we are integrated into their school week and we can continue the work that we did in the 3 days but more consistently over time.
What does the day look like?
The programme will run from 9.30am – 2.15pm
9.30am – Arrive at the YMCA
9.30am – 9.40am- Intro to the day and what we’ll be doing.
9.40am – 10.40am – School Work Pt 1.
10.40am – 11.00am – Break/Game
11.00am – 12.00pm – Workshop Pt. 1
12.00pm – 12.30pm – Break (sports hall/games/phone)
12.30am – 12.45pm – Lunch
12.45pm – 1.30pm – School Work Pt. 2
1.30pm – 2.15pm – Workshop Pt. 3 incl. Reflection on the day.
2.15pm – Pack Up and Clean and Home Time
– Students do not need to wear their uniform.
– They do need to bring their school bag with books and a pen. If they use Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams and have a laptop, they can bring that with them also. If they don’t have a laptop and need one, we have one they can use.
– Any work that is done on paper will be given to the school at the reintegration meeting.
– A student can use headphones and listen to music while they do their work.
– We ask that students bring lunch with them but if they need lunch to let us know and we can provide it.
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?
During this meeting I go through the AS report that is compiled over the course of the 3 days the students have been with us. With the school, we talk about what could be helpful for the student moving forward. I will also talk about the possibility of the student coming back for 1 day a week over a series of weeks.
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 do I refer a student to AS?
Secondly, let’s have a chat! Don’t hesitate to give me (Susie) a call, or drop me an email and ask as many questions as you need to.
Thirdly, I will send you 2 forms; 1 is the referral form you, the school will fill out and the other is a parental consent form, which asks the parent for consent to allow the school to give information to us about their child, as well as a few other points of information that is needed.
Once both forms have been completed, a photo or a scan of both forms can be sent to my email address and I will then make contact with the parent and talk them through the programme and any questions they may have.
Lastly, in order for the student to be up to date with school work, we need the assigned school work before they start and what, if any, programme they may be using; Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams. Work can be sent to me by email and I can print it out.