Last Updated: Friday, March 20, 2020

Extended Outreach - North Ayrshire Council

What is this?

This exemplar aims to inspire reflective thinking by practitioners considering alternative curriculum solutions for young people likely to disengage from formal education.

Who is this for?

The range of need is varied and complex and includes pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs as well as more specific Additional Support Needs (ASN) relating to Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Mental Health and young people who are Care Experienced. While it is acknowledged that many have been affected by adverse childhood experiences, we are clear that young people are not defined by these.

Extended Outreach work in partnership with schools to support the inclusion of young people at risk of disengagement from education. The service supports young people, with a range of needs, who are not in full time education in their local secondary. The mainstream school remain the Named Person and are responsible for the ongoing management of the education plan.


Pupils with low levels of attendance and school refusers benefit most from the Extended Outreach approach. We can offer a flexible individualised timetable and can work in the local community to improve outcomes in engagement and attainment. Pupils can work out with the school building if necessary, in libraries and community centres in the local area.

Young people who are disengaged from education require very specific, individualised support to help them achieve their full potential. The allocation of a specific key teacher who can guide them through difficulties, keep them on track and support them to make the changes that they need to make is invaluable. This relationship can make all the difference.

We are supported by the Educational Psychology Service and school counselling service. In addition, we work in partnership with local businesses to provide meaningful work experience placements.

Pupils in their final year of education are supported to achieve (where possible) a minimum of 5 national qualifications in partnership with the school. Extended Outreach support can include 1:1 teacher support, participation in wellbeing groups to improve soft skills in addition to involvement in subject groups to maximise academic achievement. In addition, we work in partnership with Ayrshire College to provide vocational courses. Each young person is considered on an individual basis and receives individualised targeted support.

All pupils working with Extended Outreach in the final six months prior to leaving school will receive support provided from the Transition Team. This will include support into a positive destination and completion of an SCQF Employability Award. This support continues for up to three months after leaving school and longer if required.

Improvement questions

  • How do we identify challenges and possible barriers to success through a multidisciplinary approach?
  • In what ways does the curriculum provision and timetabling in your establishment incorporate choice for learners disengaging from education?
  • How early? What time scale do you have in your establishment to identify young people disengaging from education?
  • How effectively do we build relationships with a child or young person?
  • How well do we look beyond the child’s behaviour to their needs, seeking to understand the distress often experienced by our children daily?
  • Do we engage in shared professional learning opportunities with partners?


PDF file: Extended Outreach Handbook (839 KB)

PDF file: Extended Outreach leaflet (1.2 MB)

How to use this exemplar to improve practice


See 4 videos on YouTube playlist (see small menu at top right of video).

Can't view this video? You can also view these clips on Glow (log-in required) - search for #ExtendedOutreach.

What was done?

Schools refer young people to the North Ayrshire Inclusion Group. The Inclusion Group is staffed by a Senior Manager, the Principal Psychologist (Joint Chair with Senior Manager), Early Years Rep, Primary Rep, ASL Rep Primary and Secondary, Secondary Rep, Social Work Head of Service.

Once the Inclusion Group meet and a decision has been made to refer to Extended Outreach, the Principal Teacher of Extended Outreach arranges a meeting between the young person, their parent or carer, the Extended Outreach key worker, Principal Teacher, school staff and any social services.

Extended Outreach start by identifying individual strengths and creating a plan to support needs. The young person is allocated a key worker who is a teacher. They are responsible for their whole journey and stay with them until they are ready to leave. They will also be allocated a Project Officer from the Transition Team who will work with them to achieve a positive post school destination.

Why was it done?

Extended Outreach was set up to improve attendance and attainment in young people at risk of disengaging from school. To work in partnership with parents, carers, Health and Social Care and other partner agencies. To support them to sustain a positive post school destination.

What was the impact?

There are academic improvements with approx. 70% of all young people leaving with 5 or more National qualifications in a range of subjects. All our young people achieve a national qualification in literacy and numeracy. (2019 figures)

93 % of young people achieve a positive destination with 60% transitioning to further education. (2019 figures)

We have a small percentage of pupils who return to main stream school to continue their education.

There is also evidence of wider benefits, including:

  • improved attendance and engagement levels
  • increased self-confidence, self-esteem,
  • motivation to change and hope for the future
  • enhanced ability to deal with changes and ask for help
  • increased emotional literacy and wellbeing