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Derbyshire alternative provision directory

Alternative provision refers to education that a student receives away from their school, arranged by local authorities or by the schools themselves.

All alternative providers have the same duty as mainstream schools to keep students safe and comply with education guidance from the Department for Education (DfE).

The alternative provision directory is a list of providers that are available to Derbyshire school students.

Search the alternative provision directory

Providers on the directory have offered assurance that they:

  • follow procedures for safeguarding as advised in 'Keeping children safe in education' which includes annual safeguarding training
  • follow safer recruitment
  • are aware of the prevent duty
  • are aware of their duty to promote British values and social, moral, spiritual and cultural opportunities
  • comply with health and safety procedures
  • comply with data protection legislation
  • will employ appropriately experienced and qualified staff that are able to educate students with varied learning and behavioural needs
  • record and report student attendance
  • work to ensure equality and diversity

The directory also includes providers that are out of county but within close travelling distance to the Derbyshire border such as Mansfield, Nottingham, Sheffield, Worksop and Stockport.

We're not responsible for making recommendations on the suitability of providers for use by individual schools or whether they will deliver the perceived benefits. Such evaluations must be made by school management and governors in accordance with the school's financial procedures and legal obligations.

We take no responsibility for the monitoring of students at these providers and it is the responsibility of the referring school to check the relevant compliancy documents and that working practices are being adhered to.

Registered and unregistered alternative providers

An unregistered alternate provider is not a school. It does not have a DfE number and cannot take pupils to roll.

Commissioners and the alternate provider themselves must have regard to the following DfE policy:

"Registration of independent schools, departmental guidance for proprietors and prospective proprietors of independent schools in England August 2019"

This policy defines what full time education is and explains when an unregistered alternate provider is acting illegally and must register as an independent school with the DfE.

Registration of independent schools

Part A: Scope of arrangements, page 6:

"An independent school is defined as any school at which full-time education is provided for five or more pupils of compulsory school age, or for one or more such pupils with an EHC plan, or a statement of special educational needs, or who is “looked after” by a local authority, and is not a school maintained by a local authority or a non-maintained special school."

If an unregistered alternate provider educates an education health and care plan pupil for more than 18 hours per week then they are acting illegally. Also if they educate 5 or more pupils for more than 18 hours, or one looked after pupil for more than 18 hours per week, they are acting illegally and should apply for independent school registration.

Full-time education

There is no legal definition of what constitutes ‘full-time’ education. However, we would consider an institution to be providing full-time education if it is intended to provide, or does provide, all, or substantially all, of a child's education. Relevant factors in determining whether education is full-time include:

  • the number of hours per week that is provided - including breaks and independent study time
  • the number of weeks in the academic term/year the education is provided
  • the time of day it is provided
  • whether the education provision in practice precludes the possibility that full-time education could be provided elsewhere

Generally, we consider any institution that is operating during the day, for more than 18 hours per week, to be providing full-time education. This is because the education being provided is taking up the substantial part of the week in which it can be reasonably expected a child can be educated, and therefore indicates that the education provided is the main source of education for that child.

Inspectors from Ofsted may inspect any premises if they have reasonable cause to believe that an unregistered independent school is being conducted there. At such inspections, inspectors will assess whether the school meets the definition of an independent school, which will include assessing whether or not the school is intending to provide, or is providing, all or substantially all of a child’s education.

Quality of alternative providers

The school inspection handbook provides clarity for schools about how use of off-site alternate providers will be inspected by Ofsted.

Inspecting off-site provision

Inspectors must evaluate how well a school continues to take responsibility for its pupils who attend alternative or off-site provision. Inspectors need to be assured that leaders have ensured that the alternative provision is a suitable and safe placement that will meet pupils’ academic / vocational / technical needs, pastoral needs and, if appropriate, SEND needs. Inspectors will speak to a selection of pupils who attend off-site provision, where possible, including potentially through video / telephone calls.

Inspectors must ask the school about the registration status of any alternative providers that they use. Any provider of alternative provision must be registered as an independent school if it caters full time for 5 or more pupils of compulsory school age, or one pupil who is looked after or has an education, health and care (EHC) plan. If a school uses alternative provision that should be registered but is not, inspectors will carefully consider whether this affects the likelihood that pupils are safeguarded effectively.

Inspectors will normally visit a sample of any part-time unregistered alternative providers during the inspection, as directed by the relevant Ofsted region. This may be completed remotely. This is to assess the adequacy of the school’s quality assurance process. Inspectors should visit any registered alternative provision site that Ofsted has not yet inspected to assess the adequacy of the school’s quality assurance process.

Inspectors will consider the quality of registered alternative provision using Ofsted’s latest inspection report and assess its impact on the overall quality of education for pupils in a proportionate way.

Inspectors will consider:

  • the reasons why leaders considered off-site provision to be the best option for the pupils concerned
  • whether leaders have made the appropriate checks on the registration status of the provision
  • what safeguarding checks leaders have made and continue to make to ensure that the provision is a safe place for their pupils to attend
  • the extent to which leaders ensure that pupils benefit from a well-planned and sequenced, well-taught, broad and balanced curriculum
  • the attendance and behaviour of the pupils who attend the provision
  • how well the provision promotes the pupils’ personal development

If a school uses a provider that is not registered, the inspector must contact the duty desk so that staff can notify Ofsted’s unregistered schools team. Following the inspection, the team will determine if we need to take further action because there is reasonable cause to believe that the setting is operating as an unregistered school.

A school is likely to be judged inadequate for leadership and management if:

  • it is making ineffective or inappropriate use of alternative provision
  • it is using inappropriate alternative provision
  • leaders have not taken the necessary steps to assure themselves of the suitability of a provision, including its COVID-19 safety arrangements
  • leaders are not aware of how many of their pupils attend alternative provision
  • leaders are not taking responsibility for their pupils who attend alternative provision

The directory does not offer any reassurance of the quality of the teaching and learning delivered by the providers. The responsibility of the quality of the alternative provision used rests with the commissioner. Please contact the alternative providers directly to discuss commissioning, evidence of their compliancy and to discuss how you'll measure their quality.

Alternative provision statutory guidance for local authorities, January 2013 states:

"Commissioners should maintain on-going contact with the provider and students and have clear procedures in place to exchange information, monitor progress and provide pastoral support."

Production of the directory

The directory has been produced with companies that have met the compliance criteria. It will be updated with additional alternate providers as they are sourced or become compliant. There will be regular updates to the directory. For any further enquiries, or to recommend any further companies, then please contact me, email:

If you have any concerns about the compliancy of any of the alternate providers listed in this directory, please email: