Pupil Referral Units, or PRUs as they are commonly known, are an alternative for students who cannot be accommodated in mainstream schools.
Funded by local authorities, they are designed to ensure that every pupil has access to a decent level of education.
PRUs are for pupils that mainstream schools are unable to accommodate, for a variety of reasons.
Often, it is due to behavioural problems which have led to a pupil being excluded or being at risk of exclusion. This includes problems with anger, mental health issues, and school phobia/refusal. It also includes students who are victims of severe bullying.
They can also be used for pregnant or young mothers, new starters who missed out on a school place or those suffering from a short-term illness that renders mainstream school unsuitable.
Sometimes, Special Educational Needs pupils – or those waiting to be diagnosed – will attend PRUs. However, pupils who have more severe special educational needs or disabilities should not be sent to a PRU as a long-term solution.
Every child of school age has the right to a suitable form of education. It is the local authorities’ duty to ensure this is provided. PRUs are the schools in which local authorities fulfil this obligation.
PRUs are generally of great benefit to children who have had difficulties in mainstream schools.
The teachers are normally highly experienced, with qualifications and expertise in working with children with challenging behaviours. The pupils get access social workers, counsellors and educational psychologists to help them with their problems. The class sizes are also smaller than mainstream schools, resulting in more one-to-one attention.
The curriculum is also more tailored to their needs. They don’t have to teach the full curriculum, meaning students get a more specific timetable that identifies and works on what it needs to. This includes the introduction of classes such as personal, social and health education. As a result, pupils become more motivated and confident, leading to increases in attendance and attainment.
In fact, 14% of PRUs are rated Outstanding by OFSTED, a figure that is considerably higher than mainstream Primary schools.
For children with challenging behaviours, or the various other reasons they require an alternative to mainstream schooling, PRUs are an asset in helping them be the best version of themselves.