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Alternative Provision and Independent Special Schools


Alternative Provision is education arranged by local authorities for pupils who, because of exclusion, illness or for other reasons would not otherwise receive a suitable education. The provision can be for short periods of time and the pupil returns to their mainstream school or, in Key Stage 4, it may be their full-time educational provision.

There are many reasons why a pupil is not able to access mainstream provision, for example post operative or during treatment; owing to mental health difficulties; pending a move to a specialist placement when the mainstream school cannot safely support the pupil and also permanent exclusion.

It is vital that, whatever the circumstances, the educational needs of that child or young person are met in the most suitable setting to enable that young person to receive the most appropriate support and provision and secure good outcomes.

RISE offers alternative provision comprising a small team of dedicated officers who work with schools, young people and their families as well as other services to identify and support any young person who requires alternative provision.

In order to access an education which best suits the individual young person, RISE commissions high quality provision through a range of approved providers within the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and neighbouring Local Authorities.

The alternative provision offer is detailed in the Alternative Provision Framework and includes full time KS4 programmes in approved provisions which share the common features:

  • registered with the DfE
  • offer a range of accredited programmes and qualifications to suit the individual needs and aptitudes of the young people including GCSE English and Maths, Functional Skills, PSHE and other accredited courses/ GCSE subjects for example, science, Arts Mark Award, Sports GCSE, sociology etc
  • opportunities for work experience
  • Information, Advice and Guidance and support for admissions to college and apprenticeships
  • Sports and creative arts
  • Individual and personalised academic and pastoral support and access to a range of support services.

Alternative Provision

Independent Special Schools


Where required, a bespoke specialist package may be designed to meet the individual needs of the young person.

All alternative providers are subject to an annual Quality Assurance Audit that includes checking of accessibility, health and safety and staff training to enable children and young people with additional needs needs to access the provision. 

There is a high ratio of staff to students in the provisions, typically 1:6 or, where appropriate, 1:1. 

Staff training is a high priority for all alternative providers to meet the needs of the children and young people who access the provisions. This will include training on:


  • Safeguarding and child protection
  • Team Teach including de-escalation strategies
  • Attachment; ASD; Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties(BESD)
  • First Aid
  • Risk Management
  • Lone working 

All providers are expected to have in place the following policies and procedures:

  • Special Educational Needs and Disability
  • Behaviour
  • Child Protection
  • Health and Safety
  • Safeguarding and Child Protection
  • Supporting pupils with medical conditions
  • Equality and Diversity 
  • Data Protection

Pupils who are permanently excluded and are RBWM residents are automatically referred to the Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)/ Early Help for screening and in parallel to RISE Alternative Learning Provision in order to identify the most appropriate provision. 

Pupils with health related medical needs can be referred to RISE when the pupil has been absent from school or is likely to be absent from school for that reason for 15 school days or more, whether cumulative or consecutive. A medical referral is required to support the referral. 

Pupils with medical needs that are non health related and preventing the young person from attending school (e.g. social anxiety/ related mental health difficulties) can be referred to RISE when the pupil has been absent from school or is likely to be absent from school for that reason for 15 school days or more, whether cumulative or consecutive. A medical referral is required to support the referral. 

Where pupils are at significant risk of exclusion and schools have already used their own resources, schools may refer to RISE for alternative provision short-term programmes (KS2-3) or for full-time alternative provision (KS4). 

Where a pupil has a statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, then a full-time alternative provision placement may be considered as part of the placement provision discussed with parents/ carers when a mainstream placement is considered unsuitable or when there has been a breakdown in a placement and provision.

Where schools have identified pupils who are struggling in school then it is expected that schools complete an Early Help Request for Involvement as an initial step. This will identify which services could best support the young person and the school will coordinate a Team around the Child Meeting to plan the support – this will include the parent/s and the young person, as appropriate. 

Where it becomes apparent that the pupil would benefit from alternative provision or who are eligible for alternative provision according to the above criteria, the information will be passed to RISE Alternative Provision to agree next steps with the school. At that stage the Early Help Assessment Form will be used to plan support/ intervention as appropriate.

Where it is agreed that an alternative provision short-term or full-time programme is required then an Individual Placement Agreement is completed (IPA) outlining the type of request; the desired outcomes and the wishes of the parents/ carers. 

From early 2016, access to Alternative Provision is via the Alternative Provision Framework and using the eligibility and referral process outlined above. Parents wishing to obtain further information on alternative provision may refer to the Local Offer and/ or contact RISE. Any request for alternative provision needs to be made by the school in the first instance.

Once it is agreed that an alternative provision short-term programme or full-time placement is suitable and has been agreed by the parents/ carers, then an Individual Placement Agreement and accompanying information will be forwarded to the identified Alternative Provider for a response.

It is expected that Providers will respond within five working days indicating whether or not they can meet the needs and offer a placement. In respect of pupils with Statements of SEN or EHC Plan, a response is expected within 15 working days. 

Once the young person is accepted on a full-time programme then a start date is agreed and a period of induction and/ or assessment. It is anticipated that the Individual Support Agreement is in place and complete within ten working days.

All providers are DFE registered as Independent Schools or Pupil Referral Units; all have received a recent Ofsted rating of Good.
RISE Alternative Provision received a Good rating by Ofsted in June 2013.

All providers are expected to have in place their own feedback and Complaints procedures and to make these known to parents/ carers. All providers are subject to the Complaints Procedures set out in the Alternative Provision Commissioning Framework January 2016. 

RISE Alternative Provision has its own Complaints Procedures and Policy, a copy of which is available from RISE. RISE will carry out its own feedback survey on an annual basis. 

Parents/ carers and young people are actively encouraged to give feedback on provision and services through 6 week reviews and parent meetings. If parents have any concerns, then they should contact the provider in the first instance or RISE if the concerns remain.

Safeguarding practices are of the highest priority for RISE Alternative Provision. RISE maintains an up to date Single Central Record and all staff have DBS checks. All staff in RISE have received relevant and recent Safeguarding Training and two members of staff have Safeguarding Training at Level Two. 

All providers who have been accepted on the Alternative Provision Commissioning Framework from January 2016 have been subject to a rigorous and comprehensive tender process which includes evaluation of a range of criteria and, in the case of providers supplying full-time provision, individual interviews. 
This process has ensured that all providers comply with a high standard of safeguarding including:

  • Designated Lead on Safeguarding and Child Protection.
  • Safer recruitment practices
  • Regular staff training on safeguarding and other relevant areas eg disability awareness; communication; behaviour management; Team Teach; first aid etc
  • Risk assessments and risk management for onsite and offsite activities
  • Health and Safety checks including safety equipment

An annual Quality Assurance visit is undertaken with all providers that includes checking of processes and procedures and interviews with staff and pupils.

  • Autism
  • Behavioural, emotional, social difficulties
  • Medical needs
  • Moderate learning difficulties



Sonia Kay (Headteacher)

Telephone: 01628 685788


RISE (Admin Office only)

Maidenhead Project Centre Reform Road Maidenhead Berkshire