Evaluation of the Alternative Provision Innovation Fund - APIFClient: Department of Education | Sectors: Social Policy
We have been appointed, alongside the University of Sussex, to independently evaluate the Alternative Provision Innovation Fund (APIF).
The fund was borne out of the Department of Education’s investment to test what works in securing better outcomes for children in alternative provision (AP). The fund prioritised looking at how children could be reintegrated into suitable mainstream or special schools, how they can successfully transition to post-16 education, training or employment and how to increase levels of parental or carer engagement.
The evaluation will consist of regular surveys with those leading projects, case study research with the individual projects, including schools, pupils and AP providers. Additionally as part of the project, we will oversee a programme of learning and dissemination. This will provide outputs such as guidance for practitioners and the testing of findings with relevant young people.
The project will come to an end in July 2021 with the publication of a report which will inform the development of a new performance framework for AP.
Census data from 2017 found that there were 15,000 pupils were attending Pupil Referral Units, and a further 22,000 in Local Authority AP. However, cuts to the sector have put a strain on AP provision, with the number of Pupil Referral Units dropping from 452 in 2010 to 351 in 2017, despite a rising number of exclusions. The APIF was created in response to these issues and as a result it is increasingly important to understand how effective provision is for these young people.
The AP provision framework has undergone changes in recent years and Ofsted reviews have identified the need for greater accountability of provisions which are off-site. As such, AP provision has moved towards a school-led system, with a report entitled ‘Creating Opportunity for All’ being published in 2018. This report highlighted the Government’s desire for a more innovative AP sector.
The evaluation of the APIF will enable the Department of Education to understand how best to develop the performance of alternative provision. This, in turn, will provide better opportunities for pupils who are unable to remain in mainstream classrooms to continue with their education and thus improve their outcomes.