Bristol’s new Alternative Learning Provision (ALP) framework approved

Bristol’s new Alternative Learning Provision (ALP) framework approved

A new and improved alternative education plan for children and young people in Bristol has been approved by Cabinet, with the recommissioning of the city's Alternative Learning Provision (ALP) framework.

19 October 2021

The £16.5m investment over a five-year period will deliver a range of initiatives outlined in a new Alternative Learning Provision Commissioning Strategy 2022-27.

ALP is for pupils who cannot attend mainstream educational settings due to emotional or physical health needs, for example as a result of trauma. The Bristol City Council (BCC) ALP Hub oversees the pupils taught in ALP and sometimes arranges alternative provision. Schools can also directly commission ALP.

Deputy Mayor, Councillor Asher Craig, and newly appointed cabinet lead for Education and Skills welcomed the decision. She said: “For the past 20 months we have been looking at and reviewing the education system in Bristol including special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), ALP and school place sufficiency, to ensure that our approach and investment leads to meaningful improvements.

“The new ALP framework links to our ongoing local area provision work Bristol, which also includes a large-scale, £28m programme currently underway to increase the number of places for pupils who need specialist provision.”

The new ALP framework will look to provide more in-school support for pupils in mainstream schools at risk of moving into ALP, such as a new ‘keep in touch’ service for key transition points in a child or young person’s education journey.

The review and the new ALP Strategy are informed by recommendations for improvement made by the Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CCQ) inspection of SEND in Bristol’s local area, in 2019, which required a Written Statement of Action (WSoA).

Earlier this year, Director for Education and Skills, Alison Hurley, commissioned a full review of current ALP provision in Bristol which resulted in 31 key recommendations. These recommendations will be addressed through a clear ALP statement of action, which is currently being co-produced with families and education partners.

Historically, Bristol’s use of ALP has been higher than other local authorities, with some groups of children and young people disproportionately affected, including children in care, children and young people with SEND and those eligible for Free School Meals.

The new framework seeks to promote greater inclusion in mainstream schools, reducing the numbers of pupils in long-term, full-time ALP.

In the past two weeks BCC held seven events with education settings, professionals involved in ALP and parents and carers to establish how the ALP system is working and gathering views on what improvements they would like to see in the ALP system in Bristol.

Further events are planned before the end of October, including visits to education settings to speak to children and young people who are currently in ALP. 

Following the sessions, the ALP Statement of Action plan will be updated to ensure the steps taken to improve the ALP system address people’s concerns.

We would like to speak to more parents and carers to get your views on how to improve the ALP system in Bristol. If you would like to be part of this, please email

Bristol City Council and local area partners have now met, or are on target to meet, almost 90% of the final set of 36 milestones of improvement set out in the Ofsted/CQC Written Statement of Action.

A new SEND Partnership Plan is in development and will continue to tackle the areas of weakness identified in the inspection. It will also provide the opportunity to include other areas that were not highlighted in the inspection findings, but that families have told BCC are important to them.

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