Skip to main content

Alternative Provision

Alternative education provision (AP) refers to education that a child or young person receives away from their school, arranged by the Local Authority or by the schools themselves.

What is Alternative Provision?

When a child or young person is unable to access mainstream school for reasons including (but not limited to): school exclusion, behavioural issues, anxiety, or illness, then education outside of mainstream schools can be considered. This type of education is called 'Alternative Education Provision'. Pupil Referral Units and Medical Needs Tuition are considered alternative provision.

Local authorities must provide education for children and young people who have been permanently excluded, or who are too ill to attend school for some time. Schools have a duty to provide education for children and young people from the sixth day of a fixed term exclusion. Sometimes schools also need off-site education to help children and young people to improve their behaviour or deal with their anxiety. Alternative Provision may be used for the education of these children and young people. 

Policy and Guidance in relation to Alternative Provision

The Department of Education have issued some government's guidance on alternative provision, which sets out what schools and local authorities must do to comply with the law.

The SEND and alternative provision improvement plan sets out the government's plans to change the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision system in England.

The Area SEND inspections: framework and handbook document sets out the government's framework and handbook for inspecting local area arrangements for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). It was devised jointly by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for use from 2023. The framework places a duty on the local area to have central recording and monitoring of all children on PTT and / or alternative provision.

What can be expected from Alternative Provision?

Pupils 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 Pupil with a medical condition.

Alternative provision must meet the needs of Pupils 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 Pupil spends in alternative provision will depend on what best supports the Pupils’ 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).

The school remains responsible for the monitoring and tracking of attainment, attendance, behaviour and safeguarding of their Pupils placed in alternative provision.

Monitoring Attendance at Alternative Provision and Part-Time Timetables

The newly published Local Area SEND Inspection Framework from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) places a duty on the local area to have central recording and monitoring of all children on Part Time Timetables and / or alternative provision.

The following e-form should be used by schools and by parents and carers to notify the Local Authority

If you are a parent and are wondering if you should complete the form because you think that the school may have done it, please complete the form. The Local Authority would prefer two notifications rather than not being notified.

The Local authority’s ole includes:

  • Establishing a central database of all children not accessing full-time education in the usual way, including those who are accessing alternative provision
  • Monitoring the quality and amount of provision, educational and social outcomes, for all children and young people of compulsory school age who do not access education in the usual way
  • Sharing information across LA boundaries in a timely and appropriate way
  • Ensuring that every child is on the role of a school, regardless of their circumstances, unless their parents have elected to home educate
  • Supporting alternative providers of education to understand and comply with legal requirements especially safeguarding and registration
  • Supporting schools to identify potential alternative providers through the Bedford Borough Council pending Alternative Provision Directory.

Attendance and Duty of Care

Each pupil attending alternative provision must remain on a school roll and the school retains the ultimate duty of care for pre-16 pupils, wherever they are being educated. The school have the ongoing duty of care to the pupil, and the provider has an obligation and duty of care to the pupil and the school. To ensure robust safeguarding of pupils in placement, there is an expectation that schools and providers record and monitor attendance.

Communication with parents, carers and others

Parents and carers should be consulted and made aware of the reasons for the placement and its duration.

If a child has a social worker, or is looked after, children's social care and/or virtual school must be consulted and involved in a professionals' meeting in advance of a decision being made to use an alternative provider.

Power of schools to direct a pupil off-site

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

This is not a permanent exclusion. Under this power the pupil would have a right to return to school once the targets for improved behaviour have been met.

The guidance indicates that ‘where possible, parents should be engaged in the decision taken by the school to direct a pupil off-site’. This is different from a situation where a school is consulting with child and family about prospective permanent placement in alternative provision. However, it is good practice for a school to seek agreement with the child and family.

The review process

The child, parents and all professionals involved must be clear why, when, where, and how the placement will be reviewed.

Reviews should be frequent enough to provide assurance that the off-site education is achieving its objectives and that the pupil is benefiting from it.

Alternative provision used for this purpose must undergo the same rigorous quality assurance processes as those implemented for longer term placement.

Parents and the local authority can request in writing, that the governing body review the placement. When this happens, governing bodies must comply with the request as soon as reasonably practicable, unless there has already been a review in the previous 10 weeks.

Medical Needs Tuition

The Hospital Education Team supports young people who are temporarily unable to attend school full time due to illness, following medical treatment or because of admission to Bedford Hospital. We teach in schools, libraries or in our classroom in Bedford Hospital, working closely with the young persons school.

For more information please visit

Pupil Referral Units (PPUs)

PRUs are a type of school that caters for children who aren’t able to attend a mainstream school. Pupils are often referred there if they need greater care and support than their school can provide.

Children who attend a PRU might be:

Some pupils will have all their lessons at a PRU, while others split their time between the mainstream school where they’re registered and a PRU.

Although attending a PRU is often seen as a last resort, it can have great benefits for pupils who are having difficulties at school.

They tend to be staffed by highly qualified and experienced teachers, who have expertise in dealing with SEN, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Pupils often have access to support from social workers, educational psychologists and counsellors, who can help them with their problems.

Class sizes are typically small, allowing pupils more one-to-one attention.

In Bedford the PRU is Greys Education which has a Primary and Secondary Provision

For further information click here Greys Education Centre | Bedford Local Offer