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Special Interest Group

Alternative Education

The Alternative Education SIG takes the broadest approach to ‘alternative’ that we can.  We are interested in all forms of out of school educational provision and with ‘alternative’ approaches within schools.  We will facilitate  debate, discussion and exploration around the many issues, philosophical, political, pedagogical and ethical, that surround alternative education from PRUs to home education.  We aspire for this SIG to be a meeting ground for the education which takes place in museums, libraries, homes and open spaces as well as in alternative schools, democratic schools and flexi schools,  and to give a voice to those who realize education and learning differently.  We aim to promote network of critical discussion and supportive resources for researchers, practitioners, writers and thinkers.  We aim to be lively in our debate and in our SIG activity and to represent a vibrant forum of voices in this important and growing area. Research interests within the SIG are widespread and include, but are not restricted to:

  • Home education
  • Flexi- schooling
  • Adult education
  • Forest Schools
  • Free Schools
  • Democratic Schools
  • Self-managed learning
  • Museum education
  • Pupil Referral Units
  • Disruptive innovations in learning and teaching

Twitter: @BERA_AltED

SIG Convenors

Profile picture of Amber Fensham-Smith
Amber Fensham-Smith, Dr

Lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies at The Open University

Amber is a lecturer in childhood and youth studies at the Open University and co-convenor of the Alternative Education special interest group. A sociologist by training, her research seeks to give voice to marginalised and excluded communities in...

Profile picture of Fadoua Govaerts
Fadoua Govaerts, Ms

PhD student at University of Bath

Fadoua Govaerts is a PhD researcher at the University of Bath, in the Department of Education. Her doctoral research project explores the experience of home-educated adolescents, with a special focus on their educational outcomes and social...

Profile picture of Stefania Romano
Stefania Romano, Dr

Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at University of Leeds

Stefania is the Educational Leader for the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (CEES); she is a Fellow of Higher Education, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). She is also a Certified Management and Business Educator (CABS)....

Profile picture of Sarah Gillie
Sarah Gillie, Dr

Senior Lecturer at University of the West of England

Sarah Gillie is a former primary school teacher whose research interests relate to inclusion in education across and beyond ‘compulsory’ schooling. Family diagnoses of neurodivergence have only strengthened her conviction that inclusive...

Profile picture of Sharon Smith
Sharon Smith, Dr

Assistant Head of Teaching & Learning: Outcomes at Tute, VL and Research Associate at University of Chester

Sharon Smith is a Visiting Lecturer and Associate Researcher at the University of Chester. Sharon completed her PGCE (2006) and MA in Teaching and Learning (2010) at Manchester Metropolitan University, before completing her Doctorate at The...

Content associated with this SIG

BERA Educational Research Book of the Year

Closes 15 Jul 2024

This award celebrates the publication of educational research and is awarded to a scholarly book on education deemed to be high quality, engaging and innovative.


Spring 2024

Research Intelligence issue 158: Unheard voices: Language education outside the mainstream

Research Intelligence23 Feb 2024