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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

SIG Convenors

Amber Fensham-Smith, Dr

Lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies at 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...

Harriet Pattison, Dr

Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University

Harriet Pattison is interested in alternative education and alter childhoods.  She has done research on home education and is currently researching with a Sudbury Valley model education setting with particular concentration on meaning and...

Vandana Singh

I am a Lecturer in International Development Education, School of Education, Bath Spa University. A BERA Co-Convenor of the Alternative Education Special Interest Groups (SIG) and a final-year PhD student at the Department of Education,...

Content associated with this SIG

Alternative Education SIG Annual Meeting

20 Sep 2021 11:30 am - 1:00 pm

This meeting is open to Non Members to also attend. Join the Alternative Education SIG annual meeting to network with colleagues, learn about activities over the last year and  collaborate in...

Upcoming event

Alternative Education – SIG Convenor vacancy

Call for SIG Convenor 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...


Summer 2021

The serious side of nature, outdoor learning & play International perspectives Research Intelligence issue 147 The special section in this issue looks beyond the dominant Eurocentric and...

Research Intelligence27 May 2021

Embedding sustainability education in practice

A series of blogs that explore how new initiatives in a number of countries are developing and delivering education for sustainable development, from the early years to higher education.

Blog series