Pupil Referral Units
Pupil referral units are a type of school, set up and run by local authorities to provide education for children who cannot attend school.
Local authorities have a duty under section 19 of the Education Act 1996 to provide suitable education for children of compulsory school age who cannot attend school. Placing pupils in Pupil referral units( often called PRUs for short) is just one of the ways in which local authorities can ensure that they can comply with this duty.
PRUs are often thought of as a place where badly behaved children are sent, but they can actually cater for a wide range of pupils – those who cannot attend school because of medical problems, teenage mothers and pregnant schoolgirls, pupils who have been assessed as being school phobic, and pupils awaiting a school place. They do also provide education for pupils who have been excluded, and they can be used to provide short placements for those who are at risk of exclusion.
Some PRUs cater for particular kinds of pupils (units for teenage mothers and pregnant schoolgirls, for example), while others will have a mix of different kinds. But usually, pupils who are in PRUs because of behavioural problems are not taught alongside pupils who are in PRUs for other reasons. For most pupils, the main focus of PRUs should be on getting them back into a school.
PRUs can provide full-time or part-time education. The minimum level of education to be provided varies depending on the age of the child and their reason for being in the PRU. Children with medical needs, for example, may not be able to manage a full-time curriculum; they should receive as much education as their condition allows but the minimum should be five hours a week. While young people who have been excluded should have full-time education which, for those in key stage 4 is 25 hours a week.
PRUs can offer education directly, or they can arrange packages that involve external providers such as further education colleges, employers and work-based trainers, and programmes provided by voluntary or private bodies. Often they will provide a combination of both. PRUs do not have to teach the full national curriculum but they must offer a balanced and broadly based curriculum, which should include English, maths, science, personal, social and health education (PSHE), Information Communication Technology and, post 13, careers education and guidance.
Many PRUs also work with schools to support vulnerable pupils and those at risk of exclusion. They may do this through outreach support to pupils within the schools, or by dual registration, where a pupil stays on the register of their school but is also registered with, and attends, the PRU.
PRUs should be registered with the DCSF so that they can be inspected by OFSTED. There is no formal process for opening or closing a PRU, but there should be reasonable consultation locally, including with other PRUs and their management committees, and with local schools that send pupils to the PRU that it is proposed to close. The opening and closing of any PRU and any relevant changes to a PRU, should be notified to the DCSF .
Guidance for Local Authorities and School – PRUs and Alternative Provision
This guidance provides advice to local authorities and schools on all aspects of alternative provision and pupil referral units.