Alternative provision

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (England)
Date of publication
20 June 2011
Education and Skills, Children and Young People
Social welfare
Material type

Download (426KB )

For the purpose of this survey, alternative provision was 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 and not led by school staff. Schools use such provision to try to prevent exclusions, or to re-engage students in their education. This survey includes within its scope both secondary schools and pupil referral units as commissioners or users of a range of the alternative placements. The aim of this survey was to analyse the elements of successful alternative provision.

Between September and December 2010, inspectors visited 23 schools and academies and 16 pupil referral units to explore their use of alternative provision. The schools and units were located in both urban and rural areas, varied in size and composition, and were only included in the survey if they were providing alternative provision to more than one student in Key Stage 4. At their previous Ofsted inspection none had been found inadequate. The survey visit was followed up with visits to 61 alternative provision placements that were being attended by students from the schools or units surveyed. The students’ placements were varied and included practical courses in motor mechanics or hairdressing, work placements in shops and old people’s homes, and experiences in music studios and on farms. The students surveyed spent between half a day and five days out of school each week attending such provision.

Alternative provision is a largely uninspected and unregulated sector. Beyond pupil referral units and other full-time provision, there is no requirement for the majority of alternative providers to register with any official body and no consistent arrangements to evaluate their quality. Of the 61 providers visited for the survey, only 17 were subject to any inspection regime. In some cases students do not gain accredited qualifications during their placement, so results are often not available as a measure of quality either.

At its best, alternative provision was selected carefully by schools and units, was used well to support learners as part of their whole curriculum, and was valued by the students. Such placements helped to re-engage students in learning. Where communication was good, the school or unit shared relevant information with the provider and agreed what information the provider would collect to show a student’s progress. However, in some cases the schools and pupil referral units saw alternative provision as very separate from their own work and as a last resort for a challenging student. These schools and units were less effective at fitting placements into the rest of their students’ timetables, and made poor arrangements for them to catch up with work they had missed from their core subjects. In too many cases there was no transfer of written information about the students’ needs from the schools to the providers. Where communication between schools and alternative providers was weak, the providers lacked the information that they needed to work effectively with the student, and the schools did not know enough about their student’s progress.

Related to Education and Skills

Will universities need a bailout to survive the COVID-19 crisis

Briefing on the impact of the coronavirus on universities

The impact of undergraduate degrees on lifetime earnings

Report on the impact of undergraduate study upon earnings

Preschool quality and child development

Working paper on child development in Columbian preschools

2019 annual report on education spending in England

Report on education spending in England

More items related to this subject

Related to Ofsted

Apprenticeships: developing skills for future prosperity

Apprenticeships have, over time, provided employees with the training and hands-on experience required to succeed in highly regarded, skilled occupations. Traditionally, these have been in crafts such

Local area SEND consultation: the inspection of local areas effectiveness in identifying and meeting the needs of disabled children and young people and those who have special educational needs: consultation document

The purpose of this consultation is to gather views on how Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission can inspect and evaluate how effectively local areas meet their responsibilities towards disabled children

Conducting inspections of residential family centres: guidance for the inspection of residential family centres

This guidance is designed to assist inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) when conducting inspections of residential family centres in England.

Initial teacher education inspection outcomes

This initial teacher education (ITE) release contains provisional data for:Outcomes from inspections completed in the 2014/15 academic year.Most recent inspection outcomes for all

More items related to this publisher