This report presents findings from the second phase of the SOFIE1 research project. This project aims to investigate ways of improving retention and increasing access to learning for children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS by helping to develop new, more flexible models of educational provision. In this introductory section, a brief background to Malawi is firstly presented. Issues of access and retention in primary schools in Malawi, in relation to children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS, are also highlighted, providing a rationale for the purpose and design of the research project. The design of the research project is briefly outlined and the main research activities of this second phase – school-based case studies – are summarised, before a more detailed discussion of the methodology is presented in Section 2.