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Alternative Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL14397, tabled on 18 March 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many alternative schools are registered; and what estimate they have made of the number of unregistered alternative providers.

Answered on

29 March 2021

The Alternative Provision (AP) sector serves approximately 26,000 pupils across 348 state-place funded AP settings (pupil referral units, AP academies and AP free schools).

As of 19 March 2021, there were 197 pupil referral units, 102 AP academies (74 converters and 28 sponsored) and 49 open AP free schools in England. Beyond this the sector is made up of other forms of AP, such as AP placements in independent schools (circa 29,500 pupils), post-16 providers offering pre-16 AP or charities.

Many of these providers are unregistered, as they do not meet the threshold to register as a school. These small providers are commissioned by local authorities, mainstream and AP schools and offer a limited number of hours of training – often vocational – per week, supplementing the curriculum offered by the child or young person’s school. It is an offence under the Education and Skills Act 2008 to conduct unregistered AP if the provision offered meets the statutory definition of a “school”.