Alternative Provision: Education Other than School

Alternative Provision is defined as:

'Education arranged by local authorities for pupils who, because of exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education; education arranged by schools for pupils on a fixed period exclusion; and pupils being directed by schools to off-site provision to improve their behaviour.'
(Alternative Provision Statutory guidance for local authorities. DfE January 2013)

Click the tabs below to understand more about alternative provision - 

  • Pupil referral Unit (PRU) - A PRU is a type of school for children who are unable to be educated in a mainstream school. Pupils are often referred if they need greater care and support than their school can provide. Pupils may be registered solely with the PRU or be dual registered, attending both their mainstream school and the PRU on a part-time basis. PRU’s tend to be staffed by highly qualified and experienced teachers, who have expertise in dealing with SEN (special educational needs), emotional and behavioural difficulties.

  • Alternative Provision (AP) Academies and AP Free Schools - These types of AP schools support learners who are experiencing difficulties with or have been excluded from mainstream education. AP Academies and AP Free Schools provide education and intervention for pupils, as well as outreach teams who work hard to ensure that every learner reaches their full potential. These types of AP schools must be registered as independent schools.

  • Independent Schools - Can provide full-time education. They can be a registered independent school if they provide education to five or more full-time pupils of compulsory school age or one such pupil who is looked-after or has an EHC plan.

  • AP Units – Some schools have AP units. An increasing number of schools are developing in-house AP provision with a view to being able to better meet the needs of pupils, thereby reducing the need to send pupils off site.

  • Elective Home Education - You must notify the Council if you intend to educate your child at home. The first step is to request a pack from the Council. You can do this by either emailing: or by calling: 0207 525 4780.  Find out more about Elective Home Education here.

  • Online learning - This can offer a solution where there are significant barriers to a child or young person physically attending a school. This is for learners who cannot or will not attend mainstream school due to a range of conditions including medical and other health issues.

  • Local authorities are responsible for arranging suitable full-time education for permanently excluded pupils, and for other pupils who – because of illness or other reasons – would not receive suitable education without such provision. This applies to all children of compulsory school age resident in the local authority area, whether or not they are on the roll of a school, and whatever type of school they attend. Full-time education for excluded pupils must begin no later than the sixth day of the exclusion.
  • Local authorities have a power (not a duty) to arrange education provision, where not already available, for pupils aged 16-18.
  • While ‘full-time’ is not defined in law, pupils in alternative provision should receive the same amount of education as they would receive in a maintained school. Full-time can be made up of two or more part-time provisions.
  • The local authority’s duty to provide a suitable education also applies where a pupil is registered at a school (maintained, Academy, Free School or independent) but cannot attend school because of illness. Further information on this can be found in the guidance: ‘Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs’

Governing bodies of maintained schools have the power to direct a pupil off-site for education to improve his or her behaviour.

Under revised off-site regulations the governing body must:

  • ensure that parents (and the local authority where the pupil has an EHC Plan) are given clear information about the placement, including: why, when, where, and how it will be reviewed;
  • keep the placement under review and involve parents in the review. Reviews should be frequent enough to provide assurance that the off-site education is achieving its objectives and that the pupil is benefitting from it; and
  • have regard to guidance from the Secretary of State on the use of this power – statutory guidance on this issue can be found here.

This legislation does not apply to Academies. They can arrange off-site provision for similar purposes under their general powers, set out in the Academy Trust’s Articles of Association. Though the regulations and guidance do not apply, they can provide Academies with an example of good practice.

Full statutory guidance on Alternative Provision can be found here.

Alternative provision should be good quality, registered where appropriate, and delivered by high quality staff with suitable training, experience and safeguarding checks. It should have clearly defined objectives relating to personal and academic attainment. Where an intervention is part-time or temporary, to help minimise disruption to a pupil’s education, it should complement and keep up with the pupil’s current curriculum, timetable and qualification route. If a pupil is referred to off-site provision on a part-time basis, they should attend school as usual on the days on which they are not in the alternative provision.

  • When the governing body of a school has secured alternative provision for a pupil on a fixed period exclusion, or has directed a pupil off-site to improve behaviour, it should have a plan and processes in place to reintegrate the pupil at the end of the placement when he or she returns to the school.
  • The governing body of a school should obtain from the provider a final report on the pupil’s achievements during the placement including academic attainment and progress, attendance records and evidence of change in behaviour. The governing body should also seek the pupil’s views on the success of the placement.
  • In light of this placement information, the governing body of a school should plan for the pupil’s reintegration into the school. This may include a discussion with the pupil’s parents, and/or setting specific objectives (for example on attendance or behaviour).
  • If the placement does not end with reintegration into the school – for example, when a pupil reaches the end of Y11 while still in alternative provision – the school should work with the provider to ensure that the young person can move on into suitable education, or employment alongside part-time study or training.

Any alternative provision listed in the Local Offer does not represent an endorsement or indicate that Southwark Local Authority have quality assured a specific provider. The list of providers below aims to help both parents and schools to know what is available locally.

Quality assurance of alternative provision is the responsibility of the commissioner. It is advisable to check with the person arranging alternative provision what arrangements they have made to ensure the suitability and quality of provision for your child.

For more information please contact the Alterantive Provision team: