MPs to investigate alternative provision

Inquiry is part of new Education Select Committee chair's focus on social justice

Martin George

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The education of children in alternative provision will be the focus of an inquiry by the Commons Education Select Committee.

MPs will look at settings such as pupil referral units, which education young people who do not attend mainstream school for reasons such as school exclusion, behaviour issues, school refusal, or short- or long-term illness.

It comes after Tes revealed the number of children being excluded from schools had risen sharply last year and education secretary Justine Greening told Tes she was focusing on the quality of education that children in alternative provision receive.

Alternative provision in focus

The inquiry comes as part of new committee chairman Robert Halfon's drive to put social justice at the heart of everything it does.

He said: “Some of the most disadvantaged young people in our society are educated through alternative provision and we want to establish whether they are receiving the best possible support.

“Students in alternative provision are far less likely to achieve good exam results, find well-paid jobs or go on to further study. Only around 1 per cent of young people in state alternative provision receive five good GCSEs.

"As a committee dedicated to promoting social justice, we are committed to examining these issues in our inquiry and pressing government, local authorities, schools and others to do all they can to improve educational outcomes and life chances. Every student, whatever their background, should be given the chance to climb the educational ladder of opportunity.”

Submissions welcome

The inquiry will also look at safeguarding and resources, alternative provision within schools and regulation of independent providers.

The committee has invited written submissions by 1 November on the following issues:

  • Routes into alternative provision.
  • The quality of teaching in alternative provision (including pupil referral units).
  • Educational outcomes and destinations of students.
  • Safety, accommodation, and provision of resources for students. 
  • In-school alternatives.
  • Regulation of independent providers.


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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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