Alternative provision in Southend

Alternative provision (AP) is education outside school, arranged by local authorities or schools, for pupils who do not attend mainstream school for reasons such as:

  • school exclusion,
  • behaviour issues,
  • school refusal,
  • special educational needs
  • access to vocational curriculum offers
  • short or long-term illness, mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Key points about alternative provision:

  • all pupils must receive full-time provision in total, whether in one setting or more, unless a pupil's medical or mental health condition makes full-time provision inappropriate
  • all pupils must receive a good education, regardless of their circumstances or the settings in which they find themselves
  • all schools have a duty to inform the Local Authority of any child accessing alternative provision and/or not in receipt of full-time education

In Southend, there are Ofsted approved/registered alternative provision settings and a number of unregistered providers.

What does alternative provision look like?

Provision will differ from pupil to pupil, but there are some common elements that alternative provision should aim to achieve, including:

  • good academic attainment on par with mainstream schools - particularly in English, maths and science (including IT) - with appropriate accreditation and qualifications
  • that the specific personal, social and academic needs of pupils are properly identified and met in order to help them to overcome any barriers to attainment
  • improved pupil motivation and self-confidence, attendance and engagement with education
  • clearly defined objectives, including the next steps following the placement such as reintegration into mainstream education, further education, training or employment
  • Schools remain responsible for reviewing progress, gaining the voice of the child and evidencing outcomes whilst accessing alternative provision. In addition, schools must also ensure that the pupil has access to essential areas of the curriculum that may not be delivered by the alternative provider such as personal, social, health and economic education including relationships and sex education

Registered providers

Provision name, type of need, age ranges, number of places
Provision name Type of need Age range Number of places
Southend YMCA Community School (free school) Pupils who have, by reason of illness, disability, social, emotional or mental health issues, require alternative educational arrangements 14 to 18 years 50
Victory Park Academy Social Emotional and Mental Health 5 to 16 years 85

The Southend YMCA Community School

The Southend YMCA Community School is an alternative provision Free School for pupils aged 14 to 18.

Students are referred to the Southend YMCA Community school via commissioning schools. Pupils can also be referred by other external agencies including a Virtual School, SEN teams and other local authority agencies.

Victory Park Academy

Victory Park Academy is an alternative provision academy providing full and part-time education that supports up to 85 students aged 5 to 16 who have experienced difficulties with their learning and behaviour in mainstream school.

Admission to a full time pathway for primary, Key Stage 3 or Key Stage 4 will be for pupils who have been permanently excluded or who are at the point of permanent exclusion and where a move to Victory Park Academy is agreed by all concerned, including parents.

Victory Park also offers alternative short stay pathways for pupils attending Southend schools and requiring some time out of mainstream settings due to experiencing social, emotional or mental health difficulties. These are usually for 6 or 12 weeks and can be 2, 4 or 5 day placements for primary and 5 day placements for secondary. Pupils remain dual registered and must return to their home school at the end of the placement.

Unregistered providers

Many alternative providers chose not to register with Ofsted or the Department for Education, as this allows more flexibility/creativity with bespoke packages and individualised plans, however, this also means they are not officially regulated or inspected.

In Southend, there is an officer who has regular communication with unregistered providers, and undertakes annual quality assurance (QA) processes for health and safety within our statutory duties.

The providers listed in this section have undertaken a QA and physical visits by the officer. Although these basic checks are in place, the individual commissioning service is expected to undertake their own checks and individual pupil risk assessments before commencing a placement.

Parents can also independently commission unregistered providers and fund them personally, however, we would always recommend parents undertake their own due diligence with regards to safeguarding, safety and wellbeing needs of their child and ensure that the provision is meeting the child's educational targets and continues to make progress. As already mentioned, these providers have undertaken the council QA process, but the council does not recommend or endorse any unregistered provision.

Advice and support

If parents need further advice when choosing and self-funding alternative provision, and carrying out safeguarding checks this guide can be downloaded Choosing a Club, Tutor, or Coach: Advice for Parents. You can also refer to the selection of downloadable guides on the Southend-on-Sea City Council website.

If a parent wishes to report a concern about a provision, please contact the Inclusion Team at

If a child attends a school, the decision to commission an unregistered alternative provision rests solely with the school in discussion with parents and carers.

Statutory guidance sets out the Government's expectations of local authorities and maintained schools who commission alternative provision and pupil referral units.