Evaluation of the IntegratED Programme

High school students in uniform sitting in a line at a table with papers and books in front of them, photo by Monkey Business Images/Adobe Stock

By addressing issues of alternative provision and exclusion from many different angles, IntegratED successfully took a ‘programmatic’ approach.

What is the issue?

Alternative provision settings provide education for children who cannot attend a mainstream school. Pupils who are excluded and suspended from school are more likely to have special educational needs and disabilities, more likely to be socio-economically disadvantaged and to be from certain ethnic groups. Exclusion and attending alternative provision have long-term negative effects on young people, exacerbating inequality and social exclusion.

The Porticus ‘IntegratED’ Programme aimed to address these issues. The Programme supported the work of around 20 organisations (IntegratED Partners), at the school, local and national level, to reduce preventable exclusion from school and improve the quality of alternative provision.

How did we help?

Two research organisations – RAND Europe and NFER – evaluated the IntegratED Programme by undertaking separate but closely coordinated studies. The evaluation examined whether and how IntegratED made progress towards the intended Programme outcomes and goals – measuring and tracking outcomes. The evaluation also explored if and how IntegratED took a programmatic approach.

Both evaluations took a developmental approach. While maintaining independence, the evaluation teams were internal Programme Partners responsible for gathering information and surfacing issues. The evaluation teams supported the Programme’s ongoing development and adaptation – working closely with Porticus.

What did we find?

What progress did IntegratED make towards the intended Programme outcomes?

  • The IntegratED Programme yielded some key contributions that could directly impact pupils’ and families’ lives.
  • Nationally, IntegratED partners engaged directly with policy and decisionmakers to raise awareness about alternative provision and exclusions and share evidence.
  • Locally, Partners worked to increase awareness of multi academy trusts (MATs) and local authorities about practices and policies that improved AP and reduced preventable exclusion.
  • Within schools, Partners delivered initiatives that aimed to improve teachers’ understanding of pupils’ holistic needs and schools’ ability to meet those needs.
  • Key achievements from IntegratED included:
    • The roll-out of training and support to staff and professionals.
    • The creation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on School Exclusion and Alternative Provision in 2021.
    • The creation, and adoption by local authorities and MATs, of an Alternative Provision Quality Toolkit.
    • The impact of IntegratED Partners’ responses to the Government’s 2022 SEND Review.
    • The piloting of a system-wide approach to preventing exclusions in a number of local authorities.
    • The publication of IntegratED Annual Reports.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges for IntegratED Partners delivering in-school interventions. Despite the pandemic, some Partners were able to implement initiatives aimed at improving teachers' understanding. Changes in practice at a whole-school level appeared limited within the timeframe of the evaluation.

What are the achievements and lessons about adopting a programmatic approach?

  • IntegratED had a ‘programmatic’ approach to funding – bringing together organisations working on different aspects of the same problems, encouraging them to collaborate.
  • By addressing issues of alternative provision and exclusion from many different angles, IntegratED successfully took a ‘programmatic’ approach. IntegratED supported activities at classroom, local and national levels. The Programme engaged a broad range of Partners with different kinds of knowledge and different capabilities. This diversity meant that Partners could work in complementary ways.

What can be done?

The evaluation makes recommendations for other funders wishing to adopt a programmatic approach.

When building and planning a programme:

  • Reflect on the way that programme goals are framed – are they measurable? How can assumptions or potential evidence gaps be acknowledged?
  • Identify who will undertake coordination activities within the programme, when these will happen and what they will involve. Set out how and why these activities are expected to facilitate programmatic working.
  • Articulate explicitly how the activities of each partner will contribute to the programme goals, and secure partners’ support for this.

During a programme:

  • Ensure that partners have shared expectations of what programmatic working involves.
  • Allocate time at the outset of a programme for partners to interact and understand each other’s activities.
  • Actively facilitate purposeful partner interactions at key points throughout the programme
  • Support partners to understand how they might benefit from programmatic working, and allocate resources to partners for collaboration.
  • Ask partners to report on the contributions they make towards the programme goals, in addition to progress on the planned outputs of their individual projects.