mapping alternative education by questions and organisational types

In the UK, Rix and Twining (2007) have also developed a descriptive typology for alternative education. They suggest that one apparently simple way of categorizing alternative education is around a set of descriptors developed from some Rix and Twiningbasic questions and sub-questions:

  • WHO: At risk/ School refusers/ Low-achievers/ Excluded young parents
  • WHERE In a school/Alternative school /In a non-school formal setting
  • WHAT Therapy/Discipline/Regular lessons/Creative approaches
  • WHEN Formal school hours/Out of school hours/Short term Long term
  • WHY Formal qualifications/Personal development/Skills development
  • HOW Administrative characteristics (charity, church, state, not-for-profit)/Funding characteristics
  • WHICH Type of school (public/private)/Programme across or within settings/Strategies, beliefs, services. (pp. 5-6)

But, having outlined this simple mapping approach, they then reject it arguing that it focuses too much on descriptive organizational matters and not enough on the programmatic and purposeful. They therefore offer a second preferred typology consisting of nine organizational types:

Type 1 Alternative eg A Reggio Emilia school

Type 2 Last chance e.g. In-school suspension programme

Type 3 Remedial e.g. In-school withdrawal programme

Type 4 Special e.g. Special school

Type 5 Home e.g. Home education

Type 6 Selective e.g. Private school

Type 7 Comprehensive e.g. State secondary school

Type 8 Schome e.g. A lifelong learning programme

Type 9 Adult e.g. University

Rix and Twining state that each of the nine types can be further differentiated by descriptors which address: programme title, programme length, dominant educational approach, degree of learner choice, opportunities to access setting, age range, regulation and location. An enormous number of variations are made possible by using this typology.


Rix, J. & Twining, P., 2007. Talking about schools: Towards a typology for future education. Educational Research,, 48, 329-341.


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