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. Elective 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 but also 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 and increase the likelihood of their educational success and continued engagement with learning. In Wiltshire, alternative provision will usually be accredited programmes or courses which will result in or contribute to the achievement of a recognised qualification.
Although legislation (Alternative Provision, Statutory guidance for local authorities January 2013) does not apply to Academies, they are able to arrange off site provision under their general powers set out in the Academy Trust’s Articles of Association regulations and guidance.
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).
The school remains responsible for the monitoring and tracking of attainment, attendance, behaviour and safeguarding of their students placed in alternative provision.
Governing bodies of maintained schools have the power to direct a student off-site for education to improve his or her behaviour.
This is not a permanent exclusion. Under this power the student 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 student 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 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 student 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.
Alternative provision usually makes up part of a learner’s curriculum but may, in some cases, make up their entire curriculum. Where this is considered necessary the commissioner should ensure that the provider is registered as a school if required and that the pupil is receiving their full curriculum entitlement appropriate to the type of school.
All providers listed are responsible for a quality assurance review of their processes and a health and safety audit carried out on their premises.
This process includes a Health and Safety Providers (HASP) visit, which is used to determine that the provider can provide a safe, healthy and supportive environment for a learner. Where a HASP has been completed, a copy can be requested by any school that is considering a provider’s services.
It does not replace the responsibility of the school to carry out their own checks prior to placing any learner with a provider.
Commissioning alternative provision
The Quality Assurance – Expectations of providers and commissioning schools working with Cheshire East pupils (PDF, 371KB) document should be considered in the decision making process of deciding what alternative provision to commission. In all instances, 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
- Review the AP Quality Assurance Framework to ensure that there is provision for all Key Stages.
- 6. Ensure that all provision accessed for Lewisham children and young people is Department for Education Registered.*
- 7. Raise the awareness and importance of schools’ responsibility to ensure the quality and suitability of children and young people AP placements at all Key Stages and encourage schools to regularly visit to check that the AP continues to be fit for purpose.