What is alternative provision?
Local authorities are responsible for arranging suitable full-time education for learners who cannot access a place in a mainstream school. 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.
There is a statutory requirement from the Department of Education that full-time education for excluded learners must begin no later than the sixth day of an exclusion. There is no such requirement for learners placed in alternative provision for reasons other than exclusion.
Any school that is established and maintained by a local authority to enable it to discharge the above duty is known as a pupil referral unit or PRU. There is no requirement on local authorities to have or to establish a pupil referral unit, and they may discharge their duties by other means for example by commissioning places at an alternative provision academy.
Who attends alternative provision?
Children and young people attending alternative provision may
- Be at risk of permanent exclusion from school;
- Have been withdrawn from school to avoid permanent exclusion;
- Have been permanently excluded from school;
- Have been out of education for a substantial period of time and therefore need intensive work to ensure they can access learning;
- Be pregnant schoolgirls and school-age mothers;
- Be unable to attend school for medical reasons identified by a medical professional;
- Be anxious and vulnerable including those with emerging personality disorders, severe anxiety and depression as well as other mental health needs;
- Be school refusers, school phobics and young carers
- Have moved into the area (mid-year admissions) who are unable to find a school place because of lack of places in local schools;
- Be children who, because of entering public care or moving placement, require a change of school place and are unable to gain access to a school place;
- Be asylum seekers and refugees who have no school place;
- Be awaiting assessment of learning difficulties and/or disabilities;
- Have statements of special educational need (SEN) or education health care plans (EHCP) whose placements are not yet agreed.