Investigative Research into Alternative Provision for The Department for Education

The Department for Education wanted to build the evidence base on current practice in alternative provision (AP), from the process of identifying pupils at risk of being referred to AP through to the reintegration of pupils back into mainstream provision after being referred to AP.

How did IFF illuminate the alternative provider landscape?

The specific objectives were to understand how schools support children at risk of exclusion, how schools use alternative provision, and how AP providers support children placed in their settings.

IFF worked with academics at UCL and the University of Nottingham to provide a detailed picture of the current alternative provision landscape. This involved the academics undertaking a literature review and evidence assessment, and IFF conducting primary research with schools and AP providers, but also pupils in AP (and their parents/carers).

Although qualitative in nature, this was a very large-scale exercise: we conducted telephone depth interviews with 276 schools and 200 alternative providers (generally lasting 45 minutes to an hour), alongside 25 in-depth case study visits to alternative providers (covering heads, staff, pupils and parents). The APs interviewed covered a wide spectrum from large Pupil Referral Units, to hospital schools, to small independent providers.

The research found a wide diversity of practice, both within schools referring to AP, and within AP itself. The full report, published in October 2018, can be found here.

Recent case studies