What is Alternative Provision?

School is the best place to learn for most children and young people in Somerset. Alternative Provision (or ‘AP’ for short) refers to education for pupils experiencing difficulty accessing education because of their mental or physical health, permanent exclusion or special educational needs.

AP providers can offer high quality off-site tutoring or therapeutic intervention services to meet children and young people’s varied and complex needs. Education settings can use AP provision to support the offer from Somerset’s Pupil Referral Units to prevent exclusions or re-engage pupils in their education, whether this is a return to mainstream school, specialist provider or post-16 provision.

Somerset’s Alternative Provision Directory

You can view Somerset’s Alternative Provision Directory on the County Council’s website

The directory shows a list of organisations currently offering a range of AP services across Somerset. While Somerset County Council is unable to endorse any organisation featured on the register, each of the AP providers have confirmed they meet a number of important standards including safeguarding, insurance and health and safety.


Schools and other educational settings have a responsibility to ensure that pupils accessing AP services are safe and can learn and achieve. They should make sure appropriate quality assurance checks are undertaken before commissioning an AP provider and satisfy themselves that providers are not operating as unregistered independent schools.

If a provider is offering:

  • Full-time education to 5 children, or
  • Full-time education to 1 child with an EHCP, or
  • Full-time education to 1 looked after child (CLA)

then the provider should be registered as an independent school and state-maintained schools must not commission alternative provision from them until they have done so. In the case of independent schools, case law suggests that 18 hours of provision a week equates to full-time education.

A suggested evidence checklist for schools has been created which is available here

Alternative Provision Providers

If you are an AP provider and you would like to be added to the directory, complete our online application here

It will ask you what services you provide and which areas of the county you work in. It will also ask if you have a number of policies and procedures in place. It should take no longer than 20 minutes to complete.

We will aim to process your application within a few working days and we will let you know the outcome. If you are added to the directory and approached by a school, please be ready to show them the evidence covered in the questionnaire.