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Learn how Ofsted inspects pupil referral units (PRUs) and alternative provision (AP) academies. Also find information covering inspection of off-site units and residential provision.

This article refers to the inspection of pupil referral units (PRUs) and alternative provision (AP) academies. To find out how schools are inspected for their AP choices, read this article.

AP settings are inspected like schools

Alternative provision (AP) settings are inspected by Ofsted under the School Inspection Handbook in the same way as schools, and the grade descriptors set out throughout the handbook also apply. 

Read our articles on:

Urgent inspections

Urgent inspections were previously called "inspections with no fixed designation" and "unannounced behaviour inspections". 

You might receive one if Ofsted:

  • Has concerns about student or staff safety
  • Believes there has been a serious breakdown in leadership and management, or a decline in standards


  • Usually carried out by 1 inspector and last 1 day
  • Announced 15 minutes before arrival, or with half a day’s notice