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Heads of alternative provision: committed to realising young peoples’ potential in an unregulated marketAlternative provision (AP) caters for pupils marginalised and excluded from mainstream schooling. In England, it is conceptualised in policy as providing education to support behavioural improvements (pupils are directed off-site to improve behaviour). There is limited research on the experiences of those who work in AP settings. That which does exist tends to report the commitment of these professionals to the young people with whom they work. Young people who attend these schools frequently talk positively about the relationships they experience there. As such, there is a need to better understand the motivations of those working with these young people if we are to understand the key relationships that make AP work. This article fills a gap by focusing on the experiences of those managing AP settings across a geographical area. The findings are based on 3 interviews and 20 surveys and develop significantly our understanding of the motivations of those working in and managing AP settings. Interesting divergences in practice are highlighted and findings show managers both see and work to realise the potential of young people in AP. These findings suggest staff commitment should be conceptualised as belief in the potential of the young people who attend AP.