Thursday, December 8, 2022

The PRU: “Letting Down Our Most Vulnerable”

“A LACK of planning….a lack of vision…no desire…no ambition” are among the damning criticisms of the Thurrock Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) by government inspectors Ofsted.

The report lays the blame clearly at the door of primary provision. Indeed the report appears to not even be able to establish who is in charge.

The PRU, which caters for students out-with mainstream education, has sites in South Ockendon, Stanford-le-Hope, and Little Thurrock. It has 52 secondary school pupils and 15 primary on it’s role.

The Headteacher is Rebecca Durston. According to the Thurrock Council website, the Head of Primary is Carole Broster.

Main Criticisms

1. The leader of the primary department is on leave and the department is being managed temporarily by the special educational needs co-ordinator from the local authority’s pupil support service. Until very recently, the PRU’s primary and secondary departments shared a site. A month ago, the local authority closed the primary department’s building for health and safety reasons. The primary pupils are currently split temporarily into three groups, taught at separate sites. One is next to the secondary department; two are adjacent to primary schools, one is a few miles away in Little Thurrock, and the other is in Stanford Le Hope about six miles away.

2. Leaders have lacked a clear vision and determination to secure improvement.

3. Achievement and enjoyment are inadequate because the outcomes for primary pupils are unsatisfactory and attendance across the whole of the PRU is poor.

4. Those with a statement of special educational needs are not having their learning difficulties catered for effectively in lessons.

5. Teaching and assessment are inadequate, mainly because primary lessons are not planned and taught well.

6. Staff and pupils have no easy access to computers.

7. As primary pupils are offered too few hours of education, sometimes less than half of that to which they are entitled, their opportunity to make progress is greatly reduced. While pupils are encouraged and supported in lessons, learning, especially in literacy and numeracy, is too slow.

8. The overall leadership of the PRU is not clear and, in particular, the lack of clarity over accountability for the primary department has impeded improvement.

9. While the desired qualities in teaching are explicit, there is insufficient ambition and drive to embed them. The management committee does not provide sufficient challenge and support for the PRU.

Addressing Full Council on wednesday, Labour’s new portfolio holder for Education, Diana Hale said

“Our immediate priority is for the PRU to be strengthened and that our inclusion strategy and approach is “best in class”.

“I will meet with the PRU management committee on a termly basis.”

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