MPs call for evidence in alternative provision inquiry

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

An inquiry into alternative provision for pupils who drop out of mainstream education has been launched by MPs.

The House of Commons Education Select Committee, under its new chair Robert Halfon MP, will look into how students arrive in alternative provision, the quality of education provided and the outcomes for students.

Other themes in the inquiry will include safeguarding and resources as well as alternative provision within mainstream schools.

Department for Education (DfE) statistics indicate that there are 353 pupil referral units (PRUs) in England educating around 15,000 students, an increase of 16 per cent since 2011/12.

Permanent and fixed-term exclusions have risen in recent years, mainly affecting secondary and special schools.

There were 35.2 permanent exclusions per day in 2015/16, up from an average of 30.5 per day in 2014/15.

Further DfE statistics show that pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (FSM) are around four times more likely to receive a permanent or fixed period exclusion than those who are not eligible, and pupils with identified SEN account for almost half of all permanent exclusions and fixed period exclusions.

Mr Halfon 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 one 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.”

The closing date for written submissions of evidence to the inquiry is November 1.

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