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Alternative Education

Updated 22 June 2021

What is the alternative provision framework?

The alternative provision framework is a list of education providers that are able to offer provision for young people in Plymouth schools.  This list includes the following types of providers:

Subject to Ofsted inspection:

  • Schools who have a support offer that other schools can purchase
  • Post-16 providers

Not subject to Ofsted inspection:

  • Non-registered providers
  • Providers of online learning
  • Tutors

Non-registered providers, providers of online learning and tutors

These providers are not Ofsted regulated. Each of the providers appearing on the framework has completed the 'supplier questionnaire' and associated method statements.

The 'supplier questionnaire' asks for organisational information including health and safety, insurance, business governance, disputes etc.

In addition, providers complete responses to four method statements:

  1. Please explain how your organisation will ensure that you do not function as an illegal school. This will require an understanding of the current legislation and how it can impact on an organisation who has individual contracts with a number of different schools.
  2. Please describe your organisation's approach to communication with schools in order to ensure pupil's needs are understood, outcomes are met and that all necessary checks are made?
  3. Please describe how you will measure the impact of the intervention provided and support the transition in and out the provision and how your organisation will work with schools to identify achievable, measurable outcomes for individual children/young people.
  4. Please describe how you will keep all of the pupils accessing your provision safe. Your answer should describe the differentiation you will have in place depending on the individual needs of the pupil and their ages.

The supplier questionnaire  and Method Statements are then evaluated and scored by a panel of Plymouth City Council Officers and Head teachers.

Provision of Alternative Education Provision Supplier Questionnaire (Word doc) [446KB]

Schools that are part of the Alternative Provision Framework

Why is a graduated approach to inclusion important?

The local authority has heard from school leaders in Plymouth that alternative providers are often commissioned to avoid permanent exclusion.  School leaders, as well as the leaders of alternative provision are clear that placements are successfully only as part of a package of early intervention and not as a last resort. A graduated approach to meeting need provides school leaders with the opportunity to implement strategies to meet needs in a structured manner with opportunities for reflection and refinement with the pupil, their parents/carers and relevant professionals.   There is a wealth of evidence that this assess, plan, do, review cycle will reduce the likelihood of permanent exclusion.

Plymouth Graduated Approach to Inclusion

Frequently asked questions

Why have providers who are not Ofsted registered been asked to complete the supplier questionnaire and join the framework?

The purpose of the framework is to ensure that non-regulated providers are subject to scrutiny at a local level.

Do Ofsted registered providers need to complete supplier framework?

No. We do not ask Ofsted registered providers to complete the supplier questionnaire because they are subject to inspection from a statutory education body.

I am using an alternative provider that is on the framework.  What assurances does this give me?

Those suppliers listed on the framework have been subject to "all due diligence" checks including health and Safety and Safeguarding checks on their policies and procedures.  The provider's responses to the method statements have also been approved by the panel.  This means that they have demonstrated at least an acceptable understanding of key educational and practice issues as defined by members of the panel.

Is it safe to commission a provider that is listed on the framework?

A listing on the framework is a starting point that deems a provider suitable for a school to approach in order to decide whether the offer is right for an individual learner.  Schools should assess whether a provider offers a high quality education and meets the needs of an individual learner. 

A listing on the framework does not guarantee that a provider is safe. Schools should continue with their quality assurance processes. 

Can I have a copy of the supplier questionnaire for an individual provider?

Questionnaires for individual providers are confidential to the panel.  The panel comprises senior education leaders and council officers who are suitably qualified and experienced to make robust decisions.

I am using an alternative provider that is not on the framework.  What do I need to do?

  • Ask a representative from the provider for the reasons why they have not joined the framework. Would they consider joining?
  • Where a provider wishes to join the framework ask them to contact Commissioning by emailing  Children' and put Alternative Education Framework in the title  

Why does the framework link straight to the supplier's website rather than provide a summary of services?

A direct link to the suppliers website ensures that information is always up-to-date.

Are supplier costs included on the framework?

All providers submitted their costs as part of the framework evaluation. This allowed the panel to make a value for money judgement for each provider. All schools should be charged the same but there is scope for some negotiation by individual schools to obtain better value for money e.g. purchasing a block of sessions which allows the provider to plan their staffing etc. and so they could reduce the cost.

How often is the framework reviewed?

The framework is reviewed annually and where concerns are raised these will be dealt with as soon as they are raised.

Is there a process for purchasing places?

Individual spot purchasing of places will take place by schools and academies. All places will be purchased using the Individual Placement Agreement (appendix 1).

I have a concern about a provider.  What do I do?

  • If your concern relates to safeguarding you should follow your school's safeguarding procedures.
  • If your concern relates the quality of education or business practice, you should discuss the matter with your line manager and follow your school's normal escalation procedures.  In addition, please inform Janet Greaves-Stocker

Appendix 1

Individual Placement Form (Word doc) [50KB]

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