Alternative education provision

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In the Department for Education publication  Alternative Education, Statutory guidance for local authorities the definition of alternative provision is:

  • 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
  • pupils being directed by schools to off-site provision to improve their behaviour

Any organisation can provide alternative and off-site provision including private, voluntary, community or charity sectors. Home education, education provided out of school hours or out of school hours youth work can't provide alternative and off-site provision.

Our Live Well directory includes:

  • provision which may be arranged by those with responsibility for pupils that meet the above criteria 
  • provision that is offered to extend the curriculum offered to pupils and requires teaching away from a school

By using alternative provision, programmes of learning can be designed to meet the needs and interests of the individual. This makes it more likely that they will engage with learning and succeed in education. In Cheshire East, alternative provision will usually be accredited programmes or courses which will result in or contribute to the achievement of a recognised qualification.

Alternative provision usually makes up part of a learner’s curriculum but may, in some cases, make up their entire curriculum. Where the provision makes up the entire curriculum, the commissioner should ensure both the following:

  • the provider is registered as a school if required
  • the pupil is receiving their full curriculum entitlement appropriate to the type of school

Commissioning alternative provision

 In all cases, schools should:

  • evaluate the quality of teaching and learning at the alternative provision they use and the impact of this on pupils’ progress towards the qualifications they are studying at their placements
  • evaluate the academic, personal and social progress being made by all pupils who attend alternative provision, ensuring that the targets set for academic progress are suitably challenging
  • visit the provision regularly to carry out quality assurance checks
  • consider ways to track and evaluate the impact of alternative provision on pupils’ employability skills
  • ensure that governors understand the progress made by pupils who attend alternative provision so they can ensure that decisions made about value for money are well informed

Further information and advice for schools is described in the Alternative Provision and requirements guidance document (MS Word, 52KB).

Quality checks

All providers listed are responsible for a quality assurance review of their processes and a health and safety audit carried out on their premises.

The school is responsible for carrying out their own checks prior to placing any learner with a provider. The school should check the provider operates in a way that is acceptable to the school and include checking the health and safety and safeguarding polices.

Schools may use the sample template (MS Word, 46KB) to assist them when they are considering using Alternative Provision. 

Safeguarding children and young people attending alternative provision

All AP providers are required to have safeguarding measures in place and schools or parents can ask to see copies of these.

Any concerns about the safety of a child attending alternative provision should be raised with the provider or the school who has arranged the provision.

If this is not appropriate or if the concern is urgent then please contact Cheshire East Consultation Service (CheECS)

ChECS is the ‘front door’ for access to services, support and advice for children and their families, from early help and support through to safeguarding and child protection.

Phone  ChECS on 0300 123 5012 (option 3, option 2).Callers will be directed to a Social Worker who will take details off the caller with regard to their concerns.  The worker will gather your information and advise you of the next step.

If you need to contact someone out of hours and you believe it to be an emergency that can't wait, please call our Emergency Duty Team on 0300 123 5022.

Page last reviewed: 07 March 2023

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