Alternative Provision

What Alternative Provision is and who can access it

Alternative Provision is education for pupils who are not able to receive a suitable education in a school or setting.

Sometimes your child’s school will offer them an alternative provision package and sometimes Essex County Council will offer this option.

Who is eligible

A pupil may be considered for alternative provision if they:

  • have been permanently excluded
  • are unable to attend school because of illness for 15 days or more, and the school is unable to provide suitable education during that time
  • need off-site provision to improve their behaviour
  • have an Education, Health and Care Plan and the Local Authority considers that it would be inappropriate for the child’s needs to be delivered in a school setting
  • have an Education, Health and Care Plan and are awaiting a suitable school placement

 Read the statutory guidance about alternative provision on GOV.UK.

Health and your child's education

Most children with health needs will receive suitable education from their school. They may attend school with support, or the school may provide education outside of school.

If your child is too ill to go to school because of ongoing medical conditions or other physical or mental health issues, your school and local council will provide support to make sure their education does not suffer.

Find information and guidance on illness and your child's education on GOV.UK

Arranging alternative provision

The local council or your child’s school will arrange alternative provision. This may be full-time or part-time, based on the child’s best interests.

If Essex County Council is arranging the alternative provision, they will put together an Individual Package of Education Support (IPES). The individual package may contain four types of support, which are:

  • face-to-face tuition
  • online tuition
  • vocational provision
  • re-engagement support

Essex County Council uses the IPES framework to find the right provider for your child. The IPES framework is a directory of Alternative Providers who have met quality criteria and have a contract with Essex County Council

If schools are arranging alternative provision, they may use providers outside of the IPES framework. Schools are responsible for their own checks, including safeguarding, attendance and quality assurance both prior to, and throughout the duration of any placement.

Searching for the right alternative provision

Information about your child will be shared with the providers through the IPES framework to find the best match for your child. This will include your child’s strengths, needs and interests and will be linked to relevant information such as your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan or One Plan.

Parents have an important role to play, whether their child is at home or in hospital. Parents and carers can provide useful information that can help find the right provider for your child.

Children and young people should also be involved in decisions from the start. This will help ensure that the right provision is offered and encourage the child or young person’s commitment to it.


It is important that reintegration is included within any planning from the start, including expectations for the length of time Alternative Provision may be required. There will be a plan that sets out how progress will be measured at the alternative provision placement and how to assess when the pupil is ready to return to school. Progress should be frequently monitored during their placement, making sure the pupil’s views are clearly heard.

When the pupil is ready to return to school, the school should provide a package of support to help them return and settle to school. This should include a discussion with the pupil, and their parents, to make their return a success.

If the placement does not end with reintegration into the school – for example, when a pupil reaches the end of Year 11 while still in alternative provision – the school should work with the Alternative Provision to ensure that the young person can move on into suitable education, or employment alongside part-time study or training.

Look at alternative provisions on the IPES framework

Find alternative provisions in Essex