Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Vulnerable pupil unit to move to Tilbury (and may be re-named after late councillor)

THE PUPIL REFERRAL Unit (PRU) in Thurrock is set to move from South Ockendon to Tilbury.

The ruling Labour cabinet has recommended that a £2.8 million school will be operating in 2015.

The plan is to move the current school from the Culver Centre in South Ockendon to the site of the former Jack Lobley School, in Leicester Road, Tilbury.

Council leader John Kent said: “If we are committed to education and supporting our children, the accommodation, location and facilities have to be better than they are at the Culver Centre.”

The PRU has had a chequered history. It went into special measures in March 2010. Four years later, it has, according to the government watchdog, Ofsted, improved, but still languishes in the ‘Requires Improvement”

Headteacher, Rebecca Durston was succeeded by interim head, Chris Millard who in turn was succeeded by Jan Culley.

The unit is due to be converted into an academy in June. The sponsor is Brighton-based Olive Academies Trust.

YT understands that a number of their staff are already at the school as consultants.

It was suggested at the meeting that the new academy may be named after late councillor, Diana Hale, which would, for some, be ironic, as “old school” Labour Diana described academies in Thurrock as “Grammar schools by stealth.”


  1. Two Executive Headteachers (Thelma & ‘Louise’) on mega money and ‘Requiring Improvement’ was Ofsted’s latest judgement?!

    Two years since the last inspection and the Ofsted grading still remains at a ’3′…fact! The phrase ‘rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” springs to mind!

    “You’ll get what you got, if you do what you did”! It beggars belief that the ‘charlatans’ from Olive Education are to be the new Academy’s sponsor! Is the £2.8 million just to pay their consultancy fee?

  2. The challenge of meeting the needs of the most challenging students in Thurrock should not be underestimated. As the Academies ship out their problems the numbers at the PRU continue to swell. A collection of prefabs on the Jack Lobley site won’t meet the needs of these students. Huge resources will be needed to make a positive impact and that won’t happen. The PRU will limp on as it has done in the past. Real progress can only happened with real vision and adequate resources. If you pay cheap you pay twice. Jack Lobley is not the answer. Where is the vision?

  3. Labour helped fan the flames that caused the rush to Academy status.

    It was well known that the Labour plan was to land grab so called surplus playing fields and close some schools to be sold to developers and the cash raised to be used to plug the massive black hole in the Education budget to build new schools.

    This would be a perfectly logical and sensible use of available assets to help secure the long term future of providing adequate education facilities in the borough.

    Labour refused to name or pinpoint which schools would close or lose playing fields – this helped fan the flames of mistrust

    Academy status means the Local Education Authority can’t sell off the schools land anymore. The more Academies the fewer schools left for the Education Authority to sell off their land so those that are left are under even more pressure to become Academies to protect their land hence the rush of schools becoming Academies.

    The Jack Lobeley site had remained unused for over a decade since the previous Labour administration closed it down in 2003 or 2004.

    Will anyone in the current Labour administration the Conservatives, UKIP and the LibDems tell the residents of South Ockendon what their long term plans are for the Culver centre site? Or will those only be revealed after the local elections?

    Would the Conservatives had acted any differently if they had remained in control in 2010? I didn’t see any Plan B from the Conservative so they would probably have done exactly the same as Labour wanted to do – sell off education assets to plug the funding black hole.

    Again this is a question all political parties in Thurrock should be answering. How will they fund the building of new schools and the expansion of current schools as thousands and thousands of new homes continue to be built?

  4. The silence is deafening. When someone asks you for your vote it might be worth asking the question.


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