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The provision of suitable education to those who would not otherwise receive it.
1. Local authorities are responsible for arranging suitable full-time3 education for permanently excluded pupils, and for other pupils who – because of illness or other reasons – would not receive suitable education without such provision4. This applies to all children of compulsory school-age resident in the local authority area, whether or not they are on the roll of a school, and whatever type of school they attend. Full-time education for excluded pupils must begin no later than the sixth day of the exclusion. The Secretary of State has the power to make statutory guidance about these duties4, and local authorities must have regard to it. The current statutory guidance can be found at paragraph 28 onwards.
2. While there is no statutory requirement as to when suitable full-time education should begin for pupils placed in alternative provision for reasons other than exclusion, local authorities should ensure that such pupils are placed as quickly as possible.
3. Any school that is established and maintained by a local authority to enable it to discharge the above duty is known as a pupil referral unit6 . There is no requirement on local authorities to have or to establish a pupil referral unit, and they may discharge their duties by other means. However, only a local authority can establish a pupil referral unit;, although they can only do so after exploring the possibility of opening an AP Academy. Others can establish AP Academies or AP Free Schools.
4. Local authorities have a power (not a duty) to arrange education provision, where not already available, for pupils aged 16 to 187.
5. Where a local authority maintains one or more pupil referral units, at least one schools member on the Schools Forum must be a representative of a pupil referral unit8.
6. Governing bodies and proprietors of maintained schools and academies are under a duty to arrange for the provision of suitable full-time education from the sixth day of fixed-period exclusion9.
7. While ‘full-time’ is not defined in law, pupils in alternative provision should receive the same amount of education as they would receive in a maintained school. Full-time can be made up of two or more part-time provisions.
8. The local authority’s duty to provide a suitable education also applies where a pupil is registered at a school (maintained, academy, Free School or independent) but cannot attend school because of illness. Further information on this can be found in the guidance: ‘Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs’.
3 Unless the pupil’s health means that full-time education would not be in his or her best interests.
4 Section 19(1) of the Education Act 1996, as amended by section 3 of the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010.
5 Section 19(4A) as amended by section 47 of the Education Act 1997.
6 Section 19(2) of the Education Act 1996.
7 Section 19(4) of the Education Act 1996.
8 Regulation 4(10) of the Schools Forums (England) Regulation 2012.
9 Section 100 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.
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Statutory guidance for local authorities.