Local Offer - Alternative Provision and Pupil Referral Units

Information on alternative provisions and pupil referral units in Doncaster.

What is an alternative provision?

Alternative provision settings are places that provide education for children who can’t go to a mainstream school. 

Alternative provision is defined as ‘education arranged by local authorities for pupils who, because of exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education; education arranged by schools for pupils on a fixed period exclusion; and pupils being directed by schools to off-site provision to improve their behaviour’ (DfE 2013).

Schools can also use alternative provision to try to prevent exclusions, or to re-engage pupils in their education. 

What is a pupil referral unit?

Pupil referral units (PRU) are a frequently used form of alternative provision. They are ‘short term provision’ schools that cater for learners who are unable to attend a mainstream school. They are much smaller than mainstream schools, with lower class numbers and higher staff to pupil ratios. 

Some students who are on the roll of a ‘long term provision’ PRU can also attend additional forms of alternative provision off site to compliment their learning journey meaning they are dual registered, i.e. their time is split between their PRU and their usual mainstream school.

Who can attend alternative provision?

Local authorities, schools and post-16 education providers may commission alternative provision for children and young people who face barriers to participation in mainstream education or training.

Who is responsible for arranging alternative provision?

The responsibility for arranging alternative provision depends on the reason alternative provision is required.

When a learner has been permanently excluded or is unable to receive suitable education within their mainstream provision due to illness or other reasons, it is the responsibility of the local authority to arrange alternative provision. 

When a learner has been suspended (fixed-term exclusion) or directed off-site in order to help improve their behaviour, it it the responsibility of the school's governing body to arrange suitable alternative provision.

When alternative provision is arranged for any reason beside permanent exclusion, the learner must remain on the school roll and the school maintains a duty of care. To ensure good safeguarding of learners in placement, there is an expectation that schools and providers liaise and record and monitor attendance.

What are the alternative provisions in Doncaster?

Maintained Alternative Provisions

Maple Medical

Maple Medical is a split site Pupil Referral Unit which serves the whole of the Doncaster area. All the pupils who attend the Centre have medical needs.

There are four areas of Maple:

  • JASP (Joint Agency Support Provision): For pupils accessing CAMHS support at tier 3. This is situated in Balby. 
  • The Hospital School: For children who are in hospital. This is situated in the Women and Children’s hospital at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. 
  • Link Education Centre: For children who are too ill to attend mainstream but are not in hospital. This is situated in Balby. 
  • Home Tuition: For pupils who are too ill for mainstream or Link and need to be educated at home.

The Centre aims to help pupils prepare for return to mainstream school or for the requirements of the adult world.

Tel: 01302 572796
Email: admin@maplemedicalpru.co.uk 

The Levett School

The Levett School is a Pupil Referral Unit that provides short and long term provision for pupils who require additional support for their behaviour. The centre is a through PRU and caters for pupils from reception to year 9 with the aim of returning pupils back to mainstream education.

Lower School

Upper School

Approved Alternative Provisions

Providers on Doncaster's AP Framework

There are 42 providers on Doncaster's Alternative Provision Framework. Of the 42 providers on the framework 25 providers have been fully quality assured. These are:

  • Act Fast Ltd
  • Big Picture Learning
  • Castles Education LLP
  • Changing Lives through Changing Minds CIC
  • Cirque Skills Pathway CIC
  • DCLT
  • Dearne Valley Personal Development Centre
  • Enhancement Training & Developing Futures
  • EPIC Learning
  • First Class Tailored Solutions Ltd
  • Five Rivers Childcare
  • Future Pathways CIC
  • Higher Rhythm Ltd
  • Isle Study Centre Ltd
  • Journey Education Group
  • KB Education
  • Plus Skills Development Ltd
  • St Wilfrid’s Academy
  • Sugarman T.A.O Activities
  • Targeted Provision by Ivy Russell
  • The Lighthouse Alternative Provision The Unity Project CIC
  • Vega College
  • YMCA

You can find out more about these providers in the AP Booklet below.

Alternative Provision Booklet 2023-24
Download (1.69MB - PDF)

The remaining 17 providers are undergoing the Quality Assurance process. These are:

  • 1 st Staff Limited
  • Academy 21 Ltd
  • Apricot Online Ltd
  • Aspiring Athlets
  • EM Skills
  • Flying Futures
  • Fortis Therapy and Training
  • Mindjam
  • Nisai
  • Onboard Skatepark
  • Red Everywhere
  • Rowan Education
  • Swinton Lock Activity Centre
  • Teaching Personnel
  • TG Boxing Education
  • The Fitness Coach / FiTT4Sport
  • Twilight Therapy

Big Picture Learning

Big Picture Doncaster offers bespoke learning packages for children in years 7 and 8 who have so far struggled to meaningfully engage with a more traditional offer. This is delivered through a relational approach that enables them to devise a curriculum that is relevant to the learner, and in doing so build in challenge and rigour. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When might children need to access alternative provision?

Children may need to access specialist alternative education provision when:

  • They need support to reengage with their learning
  • They need support to re-integrate into a mainstream setting
  • They need a specialist assessment of need relating to SEMH and/or episodes of challenging behaviour
  • They require a specialised or bespoke education offer which may include alternative education
  • They are unable to access full time, mainstream education for any clearly identified reason within the scope of the Fair Access Panel the Inclusion Panel.
  • They do not yet have an agreed school place and therefore require a package of support until such a placement is identified
  • They need support to accelerate their progress as a result of gaps in learning.
  • They have social, emotional or mental health need that is impacting significantly on their school placement,
  • They are on the verge of exclusion or referral to a Pupil Referral Unit and need specialist intervention to moderate their behaviour
  • They have poor school attendance which is having a detrimental impact on their academic progress

Are all alternative provision settings schools?


Any provider of education should be registered as an independent school if it provides full-time education to five or more pupils of compulsory school age, or one pupil who is looked-after or has an Education Health and Care Plan.

What types of alternative provision are available?

There are lots of different types of alternative provision providers, such as pupil referral units, alternative provision academies and alternative provision free schools. There is wide range of other specialist independent AP providers who can meet a whole range of children’s interests and needs.

They might include: 

  • Animal-assisted therapeutic centres
  • Vocational and practical courses like car mechanics or hairdressing
  • Therapeutic groups

Are alternative provisions safe?


Responsibility for the alternative provision used rests with the organisation who are commissioning the placement, however, schools are responsible for the safeguarding and welfare of pupils educated off-site.

The alternative education provider has primary responsibility for health and safety of the pupil and should be managing any significant risks. Commissioners of the placement should take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that any provision is safe before pupils take-up a placement.

The alternative provision must be age appropriate and when organising the placement, both parties must take into consideration any pupils who might be at greater risk, for example, due to health conditions or special educational needs.

Are placements monitored?


Regular reviews of the alternative provision should be made to assess the ongoing suitability of the placement, and to plan for transition back into school or a post 16 provider. Learners placed in alternative provision should be given clear objectives linked to outcomes.

Commissioners are responsible for ensuring objectives are met and outcomes are evaluated regularly throughout the placement. At the end of the placement, outcomes should be reviewed to determine the success of the intervention.

How long will my child stay in alternative provision?

Pupils may attend alternative provision full-time or part-time depending on the setting and provider. However, alternative provision is usually considered to be a temporary placement with plans in place for learners to return to mainstream school through a bespoke and gradual transition.

Does alternative provision include providers who deliver online learning?


Online learning can offer certain benefits where there are significant barriers to a child or young person physically attending an educational institution. For example, online learning can provide for real-time teaching support, allow access to a broader curriculum and offer opportunities for learners to interact with each other.

Can children with special educational needs attend alternative provision?


Alternative provision must be arranged in line with a child or young person’s SEN plan or Education, Health and Care Plan. Commissioners of alternative provision should ensure that there is a clear plan for pupils’ progression and keep the arrangements under regular review so that they can be adapted in response to the needs of the child or young person.

What about children who have particular health needs?

Children and young people who are in hospital or placed in other forms of alternative provision because of their health needs should have access to education that is on a par with that of mainstream provision, including appropriate support to meet the needs of those with SEN. The education they receive should be good quality and prevent them from slipping behind their peers. It should involve suitably qualified staff who can help pupils progress and enable them to successfully reintegrate back into school as soon as possible.


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Last updated: 14 March 2024 10:39:11


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City of Doncaster Council’s Families Information Service is responsible for co-ordinating and publishing the Local Offer – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

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