the research project

The research project “ What’s the alternative? Effective support for young people disengaging from the mainstream” examines alternative education provision for 12- 16 year olds across the UK. It focuses on short and longer term part-time provision as well as short and longer term full-time provision*.

The research is commissioned by The Princes Trust with funding from HSBC. This website does not reflect the view of the Trust or HSBC. It is part of the research conduced by the team from The University of Nottingham.

The research questions

The project aims to produce answers to the following questions:

(1) What is a quality framework for alternative provision?

(a) What is effective practice in alternative provision?

  • How are young people who are temporarily excluded supported to improve behaviour attendance and attainment?
  • How are young people who are permanently excluded supported to either reengage with education or training or progress to work?

(b) How can effective practice be applied more consistently across the sector?

  • How is achievement monitored consistently?
  • How might effective commissioning be implemented?

(c) How could the voluntary sector add to the effectiveness of alternative provision?

(d) What vocational offer should be included in alternative provision?

(e) How could alternative providers work more effectively with schools?

 (2) How might this be implemented?

(a) What quality frameworks already operate in the sector, and which of their processes seem potentially fit for purpose?

The project runs from November 2013 to August 2014.

 The three stages of the research

The first stage of the research project is the production of a literature review. The review will be used for consultation with key providers and stake-holders in the field. As well, interested members of the public can access the review on this website – it is published as the first set of posts. We welcome responses via comments, or directly to the researchers.

The second stage of the research involves a series of ‘snapshot’ case study visits across the UK. Fourteen separate provisions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been visited.

The third stage is a series of invited conversations about the emerging results of the research.


(* It is important to note that the project excludes specialised alternative education offered for very particular populations – young people in hospitals, young offenders in secure care and teenage mothers for example – and also excludes young people who are being home-schooled.)


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