Reading time: 4 minutes

Alternative Provision (AP) is a type of education that is delivered to students outside of a traditional school setting. It plays a crucial role in the UK education system, providing support and tailored learning opportunities for students who may struggle to thrive in mainstream schools, who have been excluded from school, or who are unable to attend school for other reasons.

There are many benefits to Alternative Provision for both schools and learners. For schools, it can provide a cost-effective way to provide education to pupils who would otherwise be excluded from mainstream education. It can also help to reduce the number of pupils who are permanently excluded from school, which can have a negative impact on their future prospects.

This article aims to provide an overview of the current Alternative Provision options, standards, and best practices, highlighting the importance of online Alternative Provision. Additionally, it will explore the benefits of online Alternative Provision for both schools and learners.

Current Alternative Provision Options

In the academic year 2021/22, there were 40,900 pupils (0.6% of the school population) in Alternative Provision in England.

The three main options available to these students are currently:

  • Pupil Referral Units (PRUs): PRUs are specialised educational establishments that offer support and education for students who are temporarily or permanently unable to attend mainstream schools due to behavioural, emotional, or medical reasons. These units focus on personalised learning plans and provide a supportive environment for students.
  • Alternative Schools: Alternative schools are schools that cater to students who require additional support and interventions. They offer a wide range of academic and vocational courses, aiming to re-engage disengaged learners and provide them with opportunities for success.
  • Distance learning: e-learning providers offer online education and support for students who are unable to attend physical schools due to health conditions, geographical constraints, or personal circumstances. These providers offer a flexible learning environment and access to a broad curriculum.

The current accepted best practice for Alternative Provision in the UK is to provide a blended learning approach, which combines online learning with some face-to-face contact. This ensures that learners have access to the support they need, while also giving them the flexibility to study at their own pace.

Benefits of Online Alternative Provision for Schools

  • Increased Flexibility: AP allows schools to offer a flexible learning experience, accommodating students with various needs and circumstances. It enables schools to provide education remotely, ensuring continuity of learning for students who are unable to attend physical classrooms.
  • Enhanced Resource Allocation: AP eliminates geographical barriers and optimised resource allocation. Schools can utilise online platforms to connect students with specialised teachers, resources, and interventions that may not be available locally, thereby widening the range of support services.
  • Cost-Effective Solutions: implementing AP can be a cost-effective option for schools. It reduces expenses associated with physical infrastructure, transportation, and staffing. Online platforms also provide the potential for collaborative learning and resource sharing among schools, promoting efficient use of resources.

Benefits of Online Alternative Provision for Learners

Personalised Learning: a good AP platform offers learners personalised learning experiences tailored to their specific needs and learning styles. It allows students to progress at their own pace, accessing resources and support that align with their individual requirements.

Improved Accessibility: online learning eliminates barriers to education by providing access to learning opportunities for students who face challenges such as health issues, disabilities, or limited educational facilities in their local areas. It ensures that all learners have an equal chance to receive quality education.

Flexibility and Engagement: AP provides learners with flexibility in terms of scheduling and location. It allows them to balance their education with other responsibilities and interests. Additionally, interactive online platforms and multimedia resources enhance learner engagement and motivation.

There are a number of different providers of online Alternative Provision in the UK. Some providers are run by schools or local authorities, while others are independent companies.

When choosing a suitable provider, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • The quality of the teaching: the teaching should be delivered by experienced and qualified teachers who are able to tailor the learning to the individual needs of each learner.
  • The support offered: the provider should offer a range of support services, such as online forums, chatrooms and one-to-one support from teachers.
  • The cost: the cost of online Alternative Provision can vary, so it is important to compare different providers before making a decision.
  • Safeguarding: it is essential that pupils in online Alternative Provision are afforded the same level of safeguarding protections as pupils in more traditional educational settings.

Alternative Provision plays a crucial role in supporting students who face challenges in mainstream education and online Alternative Provision has emerged as a leading option, providing schools and learners with numerous benefits, including increased flexibility, enhanced resource allocation, personalised learning experiences, improved accessibility, and greater engagement.

By embracing online Alternative Provision, schools can create a more inclusive educational landscape, ensuring that every learner has the opportunity to thrive.

Access secure, expert Alternative Provision

EDClass is an online platform that offers a virtual learning classroom and management portal with resources to positively impact learning, assessment, and catch-up. It is ideally suited to delivering Alternative Provision through a combination of online pre-designed lessons, live teaching from UK-qualified teachers delivered via secure two-way streaming, and safeguarding support embedded in the platform.

For more details or to book a demonstration, call us on 01909 568 338 or send an email to