Alternative Provision

What is Alternative Provision?

When a child is at risk of permanent exclusion or would benefit from support outside of the school setting, schools can commission Alternative Provision (AP).

Alternative Provision examples are:

  • Educational establishments which are not mainstream, academy, special or private/independent school e.g. registered independent alternative provision schools, unregistered alternative providers.
  • Pupil Referral Units
  • Further Education Colleges and Sixth Form Centres for alternative provision for 14 to 16-year-olds.
  • Specialist commissioned staff who may work within the school setting to support students to prevent exclusions.

What can be expected from Alternative Provision?

  • Students in alternative provision should receive the same amount of education as they would receive in a maintained school, unless it is not appropriate, for example for a student with a medical condition.
  • Alternative provision must meet the needs of students and enable them to achieve ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ educational attainment level with their mainstream peers, while the needs which require intervention are addressed.
  • The length of time a student spends in alternative provision will depend on what best supports the students’ needs and potential educational attainment.
  • Any child or young person placed by a school in alternative education provision, either full or part-time, remains the responsibility of the school, retains their place on the roll of that school and is dual registered (registered at both the school and AP) using the B code.
  • The school remains responsible for the monitoring and tracking of attainment, attendance, behaviour and safeguarding of their students placed in alternative provision

When does an alternative provider operate outside the regulation?

All Alternative Providers must work within the following Department for Education guidelines.

Every provider of education that is not a maintained school or academy must be registered as an ‘independent school’ if it provides full-time education to:

  • five or more pupils of compulsory school age or
  • one such pupil who is looked after or
  • one such pupil with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). It is an offence to operate an unregistered independent school. Applications for registration by new schools must be submitted and approved before a school begins to operate and admit pupils.

Definition of full-time education

There is no legal definition of ‘full time’. However, we would consider an institution to be providing full-time education if it is intended to provide or does provide, all, or substantially all, of a child’s education. Relevant factors in determining whether education is full-time include:

  • the number of hours per week that is provided - including breaks and independent study time;
  • the number of weeks in the academic term/year the education is provided;
  • the time of day it is provided;
  • whether the education provision in practice precludes the possibility that fulltime education could be provided elsewhere

Generally, we consider any institution that is operating during the day, for more than 18 hours per week, to be providing full-time education. This is because the education being provided is taking up the substantial part of the week in which it can be reasonably expected a child can be educated and therefore indicates that the education provided is the main source of education for that child.

It is an offence to operate an unregistered independent school; therefore applications for registration by new schools must be submitted and approved before a school begins to operate and admit pupils.

Local Authorities, unregistered and out of school settings

Local authorities have overarching responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children and young people, regardless of the types of educational settings they attend (including those who are home educated and attend no outside educational setting). Local authorities can play a crucial role in supporting the identification and disruption of unsafe and illegal education settings, and in supporting and protecting children and families using them.

Where Ofsted has information relating to illegal schools, they will inform the lead inspector of the local authority children’s services so that this can inform a possible line of enquiry in any forthcoming local authority inspection. Unregistered independent schools and out of school settings DfE guidance.