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For pupils experiencing difficulty accessing education as a result of their mental or physical health, permanent exclusion or special educational needs

What is Alternative Provision?Somerset's Alternative Provision DirectorySchoolsAlternative Provision Providers

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What is Alternative Provision?

School is the best place to learn for the majority of children and young people in Somerset. Alternative Provision (or ‘AP’ for short) refers to education for pupils experiencing difficulty accessing education as a result of their mental or physical health, permanent exclusion or special educational needs.

AP providers can offer high quality off-site tutoring or therapeutic intervention services to meet children and young people’s varied and complex needs. Schools can use AP provision to support the offer from Somerset’s Pupil Referral Units to prevent exclusions or re-engage pupils in their education, whether this is a return to a mainstream school, specialist provider or post-16 provision.

Somerset's Alternative Provision Directory

You can view Somerset’s Alternative Provision Directory here.

Document preview
Alternative Provision Directory – April 2024

PDF, 624KB

The Directory will show a list of organisations currently offering a range of AP services across Somerset. While Somerset Council is unable to endorse any organisation featured on the Register, each of the AP providers has confirmed they meet a number of important standards including safeguarding, insurance and health and safety.


Schools and other educational establishments have a responsibility to ensure that pupils accessing AP services are safe and are able to learn and achieve. They should therefore make sure appropriate quality assurance checks are undertaken before commissioning an AP provider and satisfy themselves that providers are not operating as unregistered independent schools.

If a provider is offering:

  • Full-time education to 5 children, or
  • Full-time education to 1 child with an EHCP, or
  • Full-time education to 1 looked after child (CLA)

Then the provider should be registered as an independent school and state-maintained schools must not commission alternative provisions from them until they have done so. In the case of independent schools, case law suggests that 18 hours of provision a week equates to full-time education.

A suggested evidence checklist for schools has been created along with a sample completed version to show what information you may wish to record in the ‘Notes’ column.

Document preview
Alternative Provision Checklist

PDF, 247 KB
Document preview
Sample completed version

PDF, 497 KB

Alternative Provision Providers

If you are an AP provider and you would like to be added to the Directory, complete our online application below. It will ask you what services you provide and which areas of the county you work in. It will also ask if you have a number of policies and procedures in place. It should take no longer than 20 minutes to complete.

We will aim to process your application within a few working days and we will let you know the outcome. If you are added to the Directory and approached by a school, please be ready to show them the evidence covered in the questionnaire.

Last reviewed: May 1, 2024 by Daniel

Next review due: November 1, 2024

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