Alternative provision

AP in ‘desperate need of reform’, damning Ofsted and CQC report says

'Too many children have negative experiences in AP', report says, with lack of oversight leading to 'ineffective practice'

'Too many children have negative experiences in AP', report says, with lack of oversight leading to 'ineffective practice'

Alternative provision in England is in “desperate need of reform” amid “systemic issues” that lead to “inconsistent outcomes” for youngsters, two watchdogs have said in a critical report today.

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission said absence of national standards and a lack of clarity on responsibilities for AP commissioning and oversight is leading to “inconsistent and ineffective practice”.

They found this is often exacerbated by “underdeveloped strategic planning, an insufficiently clear purpose of AP and a lack of monitoring of children’s outcomes”.

The report, published today, looks at how education, health and care partners commission and oversee AP, making recommendations for improvement.

Key agencies often fail to “strategically collaborate” and decisions on placing kids in AP are “often not rigorous enough” and then  “not monitored effectively”, it found.

The report notes “too many children have negative experiences in AP” and  “the overall picture is of a system in desperate need of reform”. 

It said “inconsistent and often ineffective” commissioning and strategic planning meant “children’s experiences and outcomes varying significantly, within and across local areas”. But it also flagged instances of good practice for schools and councils to emulate.

Ofsted ‘concerned’ over standards

Sir Martyn Oliver
Sir Martyn Oliver

Sir Martyn Oliver, Ofsted’s chief Inspector, said: “We are concerned that some children’s education and care falls below the standard they deserve. 

“We need more clarity about how AP can be used effectively so that children have consistently positive experiences. 

“We also remain concerned about the widespread problems with unregistered AP – after 12 years of calling for the mandatory registration for all AP, it is clear that the need for reform is more urgent than ever”. 

In October, a Schools Week investigation revealed thousands of children, some as young as five, are being educated in unregistered alternative provision where teachers require neither qualifications nor criminal record checks.

However Martyn added the Department for Education’s special educational needs and disabilities improvement plan, published in March three years after the SEND review was first launched, “offers an opportunity to give the AP system a clear purpose”.

The report recommends better guidance on the purposes of AP and potential indicators of success; clearer roles and responsibilities for different local area partners and “improved oversight” of certain groups of children and youngsters in AP.

It also calls for “greater consistency and rigour” in decision making around AP placements and subsequent monitoring and evaluation arrangements.

It also called for agencies to have “clear, unambiguous roles and responsibilities” in AP commissioning.

‘Schools not keeping close oversight of AP’

Schools or local authorities commission AP for pupils who have been excluded or cannot attend mainstream school.

Ofsted said a mix of registered and unregistered settings means the “quality of oversight for children in AP is highly variable”.

The report also found “limited specialist provision led to children being placed inappropriately in provision that was not resourced to meet their needs.. often for long periods of time”.

The report was based on Ofsted and CQC visits to six local authority areas, and more than 700 survey responses from those within the AP system. The primary purpose of AP in the areas it visited was to prevent children from being permanently excluded.

The watchdogs concluded that “schools’ approach to commissioning and oversight is fundamental to the effectiveness of local area AP systems”, and said they should assess the suitability of AP and “regularly review the impact of “individual placements”.

“Unfortunately, too often we saw that schools were not keeping a close oversight of the AP in which their pupils were placed”, the report states.

“In some cases, schools had not recently visited it or checked on their pupils’ progress.”

The watchdogs said academies and schools should “prioritise early intervention, where possible” as the report highlights “examples of the effective use of AP outreach and the positive impact this can have on suspension and exclusion rates”.

They noted “in reality, a lack of suitable specialist provision has meant that AP is also used inappropriately as a stopgap to fill deficiencies in local SEND systems”.

Latest education roles from

Tutorial Learning Mentor

Tutorial Learning Mentor

Barnsley College

School Liaison Admissions Tutor

School Liaison Admissions Tutor

Riverside College

Study Coach

Study Coach

Heart of Yorkshire Education Group

Lecturer in Maths

Lecturer in Maths

Heart of Yorkshire Education Group

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Ark Greenwich Free School

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspire creativity in your classroom. Sky Arts’ Access All Arts week is back!

Now in its third year, Access All Arts week is a nationwide celebration of creativity for primary schools (17-21...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Unleash the Power of Sport in your setting this summer! National School Sports Week is back!

Unleash the Power of Sport this summer with National School Sports Week powered by Monster Kickabout! From 17-23 June,...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Alternative provision

Alternative provision placements soar to pre-pandemic levels

New government statistics also show a rise in pupils places in AP because of mental health needs or behaviour...

Freddie Whittaker
Alternative provision

Alternative provision: Let disrupted pupils repeat year 11, says de Souza

DfE should also fund 'graduated stepdown programme of support for all year 11 leavers'

Freddie Whittaker
Alternative provision

Unregistered AP clampdown: Everything you need to know

Time limits on placements, new national standards and a council-run quality-assurance process proposed by the DfE

Freddie Whittaker
Alternative provision

DfE plans ‘national standards’ for unregistered AP

Ministers say unregistered provision should be 'an intervention, not a destination'

Freddie Whittaker

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *