Admissions to our Alternative Provision and Specialist places are managed through the Local Authority Specialist Admissions Process.

Reasons for Referral

Where a young person is struggling to access their learning in a mainstream school because of their complex social, emotional or mental health needs, their very poor attendance, or they are at risk of permanent exclusion from the school, the parents/ carers and school can agree to make a referral for an alternative provision placement, such as moving to The Albany through the Bury St Edmunds Specialist Admissions Panel (SAP), which meets 3 times a year.  Students who have an EHCP with a primary need of SEMH may also be referred to our Specialist SEMH Group in the same way if it is deemed that mainstream education is not the best education pathway for them currently and they would benefit from longer term specialist support for their learning in a specialist environment.

Local Authority Admissions Process

The Albany has 46 Alternative Provision spaces and 8 SEMH Specialist Group places.  These places are all allocated through the Local Authority’s Specialist Admissions Process, using the Inclusion Service Referral Form which can be found on Suffolk InfoLink via the link above, sending the form and supporting documentation to

It is essential that SEND Family Services staff are involved in discussions about any referrals made.  All referrals for our specialist group will also need to be accompanied by an up to date Annual Review report which has been discussed with the SEND Family Services team.

The Local Authority holds a suitability panel meeting prior to the three SAP meetings.  This is intended to filter out referrals that the panel does not feel currently meet threshold for referral, or have essential information missing.  The Albany will only have access to those referrals that meet the threshold.  Decisions about placement at The Albany are made at the panel meeting.

Each group has different representatives.

The Suitability Panel is chaired by the Family Services Manager with membership representatives from:

  • Family Services Team
  • Health
  • County Inclusion Support Service
  • Virtual School
  • Early Help
  • Educational Psychologist
  • Multi-Agency Assessment Programme

The Placement Panel is chaired by a Family Services Manager with membership representatives from:

  • Family Services teams
  • Heads of special schools, specialist units, PRUs and alternative provision
  • A representative of each area mainstream secondary and primary schools
  • Provider Development team
  • Passenger Transport
  • Placement Officer

There is also a recognition of the need to enable some in year applications to comply with the SEND Code of Practice and respond dynamically to the need for Alternative Provision.

  1. The SEND Family Services teams will continue to consult where a specific school has been named by the parent as parental preference in Section I of an EHC Plan
  2. Consultation will require a response on suitability and compatibility with the efficient education of others
  3. The decision whether to name a school in a plan sits with the local authority having considered the response of the school, and will be agreed at the weekly Specialist Education Panel (SEP)
  4. PRU/AP placements which are needed urgently and cannot wait for the next referral round can be negotiated directly between the PRU/AP setting and Family Services, and agreed at SEP
  5. Each PRU provider will be commissioned to hold a certain number of places for students permanently excluded and requiring provision by the 6th day.  These places will be short term, and will be used at the discretion of the Family Services teams, and will be monitored by the FS teams to ensure turnover and prevent children becoming stuck in PRU provision inappropriately.

At the time of publishing this guidance, The Albany has not been asked to hold places for short term, immediate entry, so all places will be normally be allocated via the Placement Panel.

Process of Admission (once a place has been agreed)

Once a place is agreed The Albany works with the young person, the parents/carers and their current school to enable a smooth transition to The Albany.  This includes:

  • A meeting with the young person and their parents/ carers to introduce The Albany and discuss what we can offer.  This is often at home.
  • A pathway meeting including The Albany, mainstream school, student and parents/ carers to agree the needs and pathway through The Albany, including transition steps in and out of The Albany.
  • A visit to The Albany to meet Albany staff and students, identify transport needs and make option choices where appropriate for our vocational placements.
  • A week within our assessment hub (afternoons only) to provide a detailed assessment of need to ensure the learning offer meets the individual needs of each young person.
  • A gradual induction timetable, supporting the young person to access their learning at The Albany at a pace which suits them, including familiarisation with travel to and from The Albany and their vocational placements.

At all times we work in partnership with the young person and their parents/carers to ensure that each young person is given the best opportunity to thrive at The Albany, enabling them to believe in themselves, engage in their learning and achieve well.