Ashton, Manchester

What is Alternative Education?

Alternative education encompasses many pedagogical approaches differing from mainstream pedagogy.

Such alternative learning environments may be found within state, charter, and independent schools as well as home-based learning environments.

Many educational alternatives emphasise small class sizes, close relationships between students and teachers and a sense of community.

The legal framework for such education varies by locality and determines any obligation to conform with mainstream standard tests and grades.

Alternative pedagogical approaches may include different structures, as in the open classroom, different teacher-student relationships and/or differing curricula and teaching methods.

The United Kingdom also has alternative provision schools and centres, designed to prevent exclusions from mainstream school, or improve behavioural problems so that students can re-access mainstream education.

Since 1993, some of the centres have been referred to as Pupil Referral Units (PRU). These units are run by the local authority.

In recent years, in addition to Pupil Referral Units, many privately funded units have set up versions of PRUs. These are known as private providers of alternative provision.