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What is alternative provision?

When a child or young person is unable to access mainstream school for reasons including school exclusion, behavioural issues, or illness, education outside of school will be arranged. This education is called alternative provision.

Alternative provision may be arranged by:

  • The local authority, when a permanent exclusion, illness or other reason, would prevent a child or young person receiving suitable education.
  • The governing body of a school, when a child or young person is either on a fixed-term exclusion or directed off-site in order to help improve their behaviour.

In cases of fixed-term exclusions (suspensions), the excluding school must arrange alternative, full-time education by the sixth continuous day of exclusion for all pupils of compulsory school age. In cases of permanent exclusions, it is the local authority’s responsibility. When children or young people require alternative provision for other reasons, the local authority should aim to secure suitable education by the earliest possible date.

If a maintained school directs a child or young person off-site into alternative provision to help improve their behaviour they must:

  • Tell parents (and the local authority if the child has SEND) why alternative provision is being arranged, where it will be, when and how it will be reviewed.
  • Carry out regular reviews of the alternative provision to ensure it is achieving its objectives and the child or young person is benefitting from the placement. 

Please note that the law regarding this does not apply to academies or free schools. They can arrange off-site provision for similar purposes under their general powers which is set out in the Academy Trust’s Articles of Association. Although these regulations and guidance do not apply, they are aimed to provide academies and free schools with an example of good practice.


Who provides alternative provision?

In Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, alternative provision is provided by the Orniston Academies Trust (OAT). OAT offers an outreach service to support children and young people in local schools who are experiencing difficulties, and runs two main academies (in addition to several satellite centres) providing primary and secondary alternative provision across both boroughs:

Both academies work closely with schools to support the return of children and young people to mainstream education whenever possible. While at the academies, children and young people will be educated in small groups and have access to a broad and balanced curriculum.

Please visit the OAT website for more information on the satellite centres which also offer alternative provision.

Last Updated 21/04/2022

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