Education charity takes novel approach to exclusions research

Researchers have turned to the general public to contribute to a crowdsourced dataset that will scrutinise private alternative provision.

In a novel approach to data input, education charity The Difference and thinktank Education Datalab have reached out to teachers and others to help find out how many private providers take excluded or off-rolled pupils.

This follows a Schools Week investigation which revealed many multi-academy trusts use private alternative provision that has never been inspected at all.

We found that found that half of the 154 private providers used by 16 trusts do not have individual Ofsted reports, raising serious questions about the quality of provision on offer relative to its cost.

Other research shows two in five secondary schools may be commissioning independent alternative provision as part of ‘off-site alternative provision’ and more than one in five may use this for a full academic year or longer for their students.

“Schools don’t have to report on [private alternative provision] to local authorities or the Department for Education,” say The Difference CEO Kiran Gill and Datalab’s Philip Nye in a blogpost on the issue.

“So we don’t know how many pupils are accessing independent alternative provision through this route.”

The pair have asked for help sifting through about 900 inspection reports and websites for the private schools, with 579 completed to date.

The finished research will produce an up-to-date picture of where excluded pupils are being sent – and whether it’s any good or not.

To get involved, the relevant links are in this blogpost, with full instructions attached.