Alternative provision

Alternative provision (AP) settings are places that provide education for children who are unable to go to a mainstream school.

Last updated

23 May 2024

What is Alternative Provision?

There are a number of different definitions for alternative provision.

The first comes from statutory guidance from the Department for Education (DfE), Alternative Provision 2013.

Education arranged by local authorities or schools 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.

A three year survey OfSTED into alternative provision by OfSTED takes a more strategic view:

”Alternative provision can be defined as something in which a young person participates as part of their regular timetable away from the site of the school or the pupil referral unit where they are enrolled and not led by school staff”

OfSTED Alternative Provision July 2014.

  • Directed off-site Registered Alternative Provision Checklist November 2023
  • Unregistered Alternative Provision Checklist November 2023

In West Sussex, Alternative Provision is delivered in the following ways:

  • Alternative Curriculum Pathways in Schools
  • West Sussex Alternative Provision College – commissioned by West Sussex County Council (WSCC)
  • “Near to School” provision – local provision commissioned by schools for their community
  • Independent Alternative Provision (IAP) – alternative provision to complement or supplement provision in school, including activities such as bush craft, art, angling, forest school and equine therapy.

Alternative Curriculum Pathways in Schools

Presentations from schools around alternative curriculum pathways in schools

  • Bishop Luffa – Launchpad, an alternative education faculty of Bishop Luffa
  • Sackville School – Inclusion and Pastoral Care
  • St Wilfrid’s Catholic School – The Wellbeing Garden
  • Imberhorne School – The Bridge
  • The Weald – Aspire

West Sussex Alternative Provision College (WSAPC)

WSAPC is the provision commissioned WSCC to deliver a full-time mainstream curriculum to pupils:

  • with significant health needs that preclude them from being able to attend school. Schools can refer for this provision via the Fair Access Team.
  • following a decision to permanently exclude from school. The provision will be offered by the 6th day following the exclusion decision.
  • being directed by schools to off-site provision to improve their behaviour.

WSAPC also offer a service to schools to support the inclusion of those children who are at risk of exclusion in mainstream schools. Schools can refer for this provision via the Fair Access Team.

“Near to School” Provision

Head teachers in the local area approached WSCC to propose the development of a local model of alternative provision that supports students in Key Stage 3 to remain successfully in their local education community.

The pilot project provides an earlier intervention and alternative model to that which is provided through the WSAPC for students at risk of exclusion. It forms part of the continuum of provision available across West Sussex which includes support to schools (including outreach), WSAPC and social emotional and mental health (SEMH) special schools.

Having considered a similar model that is operating successfully in Brighton and Hove, the schools proposed to work in partnership with the Russell Martin Foundation (RMF) to support delivery of this alternative provision. This link with a charitable organisation provides additional opportunities for external funding and support and links with local businesses.

This pilot project has been working with schools in area South since January 2021 and Area West since September 2021.

Independent Alternative Provision

Alternative educational provision is used to complement or supplement the provision in school. For example, this may include activities such as bush craft, art, angling, forest schools and equine therapy.

  • New arrangements commissioning Independent Alternative Provision Nov 2021
  • Independent Alternative Provision: Partnership Agreement Mainstream Schools
  • Independent Alternative Provision: Partnership Agreement Free Schools and Academies

Alternative provision can be very helpful for learners:

  • who cannot manage a full-time curriculum in school
  • with social, emotional or health needs
  • at risk of exclusion/exploitation
  • needing support with transition
  • who are disadvantaged
  • who struggle to attend school

Schools can access the list of providers via a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) and can feel confident that the providers, who are non-regulated by OfSTED, will be subject to quality assurance and ongoing monitoring by WSCC.

Schools will join the DPS (maintained or Academy) and then make a referral through the DPS, which will include consideration of the child/young person’s needs and interests, as well as the timing and location of the provision. The DPS will then create a list of providers from which schools can assess which would be the “Best Offer” for the child/young person.

Provision is divided into five categories, detailed below. Schools can commission provision through the framework.

Types of independent alternative provision

You can find suppliers of all of these alternative provision types on the WSCC DPS.

Early intervention and prevention

These provisions are for mainstream school pupils who need to support to attend, engage, manage social situations, or are struggling to self-regulate. They will access a range of activities in a nurturing environment. School may consider including some alternative provision in their timetable.

Vocational opportunities including post-16 provision

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Interim face to face tutoring

Provision of temporary education to the learner whilst an education placement is sought by WSCC or for those who have been excluded.

Online tutoring

This is also known as blended package. Learners are taught remotely through online platforms.