Crisp Vocational Provision

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Crisp Vocational Provision's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Crisp Vocational Provision is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Kev Crisp, Owner
“Building Futures
For Tomorrow”
Crisp Vocational Provision is an alternative provision based
in the centre of Nottingham that offers opportunities to
students from across the East Midlands who, for whatever
reason, are struggling to access or engage in a mainstream
school. They provide young people with the opportunity to
participate in personalised learning sessions, which are tailored
to their specific needs. Owner Kev Crisp founded the service in
2013, and he tells
The Parliamentary Review
why it plays a vital
role in ensuring that no child is left behind.
No child starts their education aged five wanting to fail, but for many students by
the time they reach 14 or 15, mainstream school has shifted beyond their reach.
APs like us offer students who have been permanently excluded another chance, by
giving them the opportunity to experience a different kind of schooling. We allow
them to develop a new and fresh appreciation of learning that has meaning for
them, creating a vision of what their future could look like.
Our journey
Located on an industrial estate in Bulwell, Nottingham, from the outside we look
like a run-of-the-mill industrial unit. But raise the shutters and you are met with
a fully operational garage with hydraulic car lift and part-built motorbikes and
cars. Venture further in and you are met with our construction workshop, set out
with workbenches and individual bays for students to work in. There’s also a small
traditional classroom.
»Owner: Kev Crisp
»Founded in 2013
»Located in Nottingham
»Services: Alternative provision
»Subjects offered include
construction, motor
mechanics, sport, English,
maths, science, PSHE
»Students range from year 8 to
year 11
Crisp Vocational
Our curriculum offer of construction
and motor vehicles allows students to
develop genuinely useful vocational
skills and industry-recognised
qualifications that open their eyes
to realistic next steps, mainly into
employment with work-based training
or continuing in education. Students
can see a tangible value in what they
are learning and can recognise exactly
how it fits into the bigger picture for
them. The stepping stone is there right
in front of them.
It was a big step to establish an AP. I’d
been working in PRUs and mainstream
settings for the previous six years and
felt that what I had to offer could
have a much wider reach if I was
based in a setting focused solely on
providing for students on the margins
of mainstreamschool.
When I started CVP it was just me as
a tutor and a teaching assistant in a
small workshop with limited facilities
in a unit in south Derbyshire. But the
interest we received from schools
was so high it became clear that I
needed to extend what we offered. I
listened to what the stakeholders were
identifying as the core reasons students
were struggling in mainstream and
knew I could offer a solution for some
of these students.
It was clear to me in those early days
that a major reason for the success
of our students was that I had taken
the time to get to know them all
personally. This was a feature I
was determined to maintain as the
provision grew, and this is only possible
by keeping group sizes small.
The move to Bulwell provided me with
a chance to develop our vocational
courses and I opted to add motor
mechanics to our provision.
However, it takes a special kind of
person to work with these students
– it’s about much more than subject
knowledge. I recruited and built a
small team around me with a range
of skills, experiences and qualities that
complemented each other. I believe
this was – and is – the key to our
ongoing success. Sarah brought her
qualified teacher status with a focus
on teaching and learning, and we
have the same expectations in terms
of lessons at CVP as are demanded
in schools; Dave brought his calm
professionalism and experience in
tutoring mechanics and an enthusiasm
that rarely fails to engage.
For all of us, it’s about the ability to
take our knowledge and skills and
adapt them to this very different
learning environment.
Our unit is open-plan, which means we
are constantly learning from each other
in terms of what does and doesn’t
work. I strongly believe that the best
way to improve your own teaching is
through observing your peers in their
delivery. This approach allows us to
share good practice and offer on-going
feedback to each other.
Ambition and expansion
Over the past four years, I’ve built
our team further to include three
qualified teachers, three tutors,
teaching assistants and a provision
administrator. All members of the team
work closely with all the students on
roll at CVP, fulfilling teaching, pastoral
and support roles. I feel we’ve got
Open-plan learning
benefits staff and students
Students can
see a tangible
value in what
they are
Highlighting best practice
the balance right between qualified
teachers and vocational tutors, and the
bank of skills and experiences we’ve
brought together are fundamental to
our success.
In many people’s minds, students get
to do their own thing in APs with little
need for rules. This couldn’t be further
from the truth. These students need
structure and our timetable of five
50-minute lessons, rotating through
each subject area, means the students
always know when and what they
are doing. They get a lot of variation
throughout their day, which results in
positive behaviour and good progress.
We take in a wide variety of students,
with very different backgrounds and
needs. We have the habitual disruptive
students, students who truant, those
on the cusp of the wrong side of
the law and some who have already
stepped over it. Some come with lots
of fixed-term exclusions and others
with just one big mistake that led to a
permanent exclusion. To us it makes
no difference. The bottom line is that
For whatever reason, mainstream
hasn’t worked but they all still deserve
an opportunity to build their own
future – and that’s where we fit in.
Looking to the future
We are currently in the process of
expanding, and this will enable us to
offer more subjects including science
GCSE and BTEC sport – which we
envisage all students taking part in –
delivered by subject specialists. We’ll
also be able to extend our maths and
English provision by offering GCSEs.
Despite the expansion, what will not
change is the small group sizes and
personalised approach.
It remains vital to us that we are able
to maintain our personalised approach,
with every member of staff knowing
every pupil – their likes and dislikes,
their dreams and their fears. We need
to know what makes them tick to be
able to help reignite their interest in
learning and to help them aspire to be.
For whatever
hasn’t worked
but they all still
deserve an
opportunity to
build their own
future – and
that’s where
we fit in
Practical subjects link
with core basics

This article was sponsored by Crisp Vocational Provision. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister