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Alternative Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL3969, tabled on 10 November 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many children and young people are currently in (1) registered alternative schools, and (2) unregistered alternative schools.

Answered on

19 November 2021

Local authority-maintained establishments providing alternative provision are often referred to as pupil referral units. There are also an increasing number of alternative provision academies and free schools. In January 2021, there were 12,800 pupils with their sole or main registration in these settings in England. A further 9,200 pupils have a dual subsidiary registration in these settings, meaning that they also have their main registration at another school.

The department also collects data on placements in local authority funded alternative provision. There were 32,700 placements in local authority funded alternative provision. This includes 26,400 placements with a registered provider, 700 in non-maintained further education, 2,300 in one-to-one tuition, 200 in work based placement and 3,100 with an ‘other unregistered provider’. Placements with a registered provider are all settings with a unique reference number or UK Provider Reference Number, i.e. registered on Get Information About Schools ( or the UK Register of Learning Providers ( and include 19,200 placements in independent and non-maintained special schools.