The School Exclusion Trial (SET) tested the benefits of schools having greater responsibility for meeting the needs of permanently excluded pupils and those at risk of permanent exclusion, by having more responsibility for commissioning Alternative Provision (AP) and being passed funding from LAs for this purpose.
The trial ran autumn 2011 to summer 2014 and involved volunteer schools drawn from 11 LAs. The evaluation explored the implementation of the trial and the impact it had had on pupils, schools, LAs and AP providers. A mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative), longitudinal (over two years 2012–2013), and comparative (trial and comparison schools) design was adopted for the research.
- Trial schools were more likely than comparison schools to have funding devolved to them, be involved in commissioning AP and monitoring the outcomes of AP.
- Changes resulting from the trial included: the increased use of collective decision making through the use of panels (e.g. fair access panels); enhanced quality assurance, accreditation systems and service level agreements for AP providers; increased collaboration between schools (e.g. pupils transferred to another school for a trial period); an increase in managed moves; revised commissioning procedures; more early intervention programmes; the use of time-limited AP (to avoid permanent exclusion); and the closure of pupil referral units (PRUs).
- Learning support units, inclusion coordinators, and revised school timetables were considered effective in relation to preventing exclusions, improving attendance, improving attainment and improving behaviour.
- There was no identified difference in attainment between trial and comparison schools. It may be too soon for this to have occurred, or it may be a reflection of changes in approach adopted by both trial and comparison schools in response to wider educational reforms.