Pupil referral units get an undeserved bad press. They are the last resort for children and young people who, for whatever reason, cannot attend mainstream schools and who often present the greatest challenge to teachers. Teachers in pupil referral units do a remarkable job in often adverse circumstances, including isolation from other local authority provision and in unsuitable premises. The Government should concentrate its efforts on supporting children's services and stop criticising and threatening them with privatisation. Pupil referral units must stay in the maintained sector because nobody does it better when it comes to children and young people with complex behavioural, medical, physical and mental health needs.
On 26 June 2012 the NUT held a national consultation conference to bring together members from PRUs across the country. The findings from the survey of PRU teachers can be viewed here. The event revealed a thirst for knowledge and a need for information to be circulated.
The Behaviour Tsar, Charlie Taylor, has published a review of
Alternative Provision. The report recognised and celebrated the
excellent provision for children and young people in pupil referral
units. The report also recognised the barriers for PRU teachers and
difficulties for children when information is not shared effectively.
The report did not recognise the types of alternative provision made for
children with medical needs and did not investigate provision for home
and hospital education. Most of these services are currently subject to
The report recommended measures for steering school improvement, such as
Academy conversion, which the NUT does not think are necessary, or
evidence based. Read the full NUT response to the Taylor Report on
Alternative Provision here and the General Secretary’s letter to Charlie Taylor here.
Some PRUs provide education for children and young people with behavioural needs who have been excluded from their school, or who are at risk of exclusion. Some PRUs provide education for teenage parents or children who are school phobic. Some PRUs are known as ‘medical’ PRUs.
There are over 1,000 teachers in Pupil Referral Units in NUT membership. The NUT believes that pupil referral units should be part of a continuum of joined up provision. The role of pupil referral units ought to be to seek to re-integrate pupils wherever possible. Most PRUs are expert at building and maintaining links with their local primary or secondary schools. You can read the NUT policy statement on pupil referral units and proposed government changes here.
In the NUT’s education policy statement,Bringing Down the Barriers, published in 2004, we recognised that
for many teachers the low points in their professional lives arise when they encounter unacceptable
behaviour from pupils. The Union is committed to supporting teachers at such times.We recognise, however,
that no child should ever be written-off and that the views of children and young people are integral to the
enhancement of their learning and to the development of schools.
The issue of poor behaviour requires all our efforts to tackle it successfully.
It requires action by Government, local authorities,
parents, teachers and young people themselves. It is for this reason that the
NUT has drawn up a national charter outlining
the entitlements and responsibilities of all those involved in
school communities. The idea of a behaviour charter for schools
was adopted unanimously by the 2005 NUT Annual Conference.