I’ve just written to the Children’s Commissioner about the proposed closure of Church Lane PRU in Brent, London.
I’m on the Management Committee and am worried about what will happen to some of the students if the PRU does close.
Here’s a copy of the letter. Would be keen to hear your views:
Enterprise Building – Unit 9
Bernie Grant Arts Centre
22 May 2012
Dear Dr. Atkinson,
I’m writing to draw your attention to the proposed closure of Church Lane Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in Brent and the disruption it will cause to our students.
As Vice-Chair of the Management Committee at the PRU, it is my job to ensure that our students receive the best education possible. As things stand, the actions of Brent Council are in danger of threatening this.
Our Year 10 pupils are one year into their Home Cooking Skills B.Tec, Arts Awards and the NOCN Step Up Diploma. After the second year, this could help them to achieve between three and six GCSE equivalents.
If Brent Council’s plan to shut the PRU at the end of this academic year is successful, they will not be able to complete these qualifications. Other PRUs in the borough do not have the facilities to provide these qualifications and local schools will not allow these students access to their schools as they consider them to be too disruptive.
There is a significant risk that these students will have wasted an entire year of work. I do not believe that this is something we should accept.
As is typical of PRUs, most of our students have had a difficult journey through education and life. They are challenged students in a challenging borough; less likely to know how to stand up for themselves in these situations, and less likely to have parents or guardians to do it for them.
Even shifting the students to a different PRU is fraught with safeguarding issues. Gang problems in the borough mean that there is a high risk of violence between students. I am aware that it is difficult to legislate for geographical issues when budgets are tight, but they need to be considered.
As an aside, please do not read this letter is a critique of the Taylor Report. It contains some excellent recommendation and schools should take greater responsibility for the students they exclude. Too many schools are guilty of ‘washing their hands’ of difficult students and sending them to the local PRU without handing over any information on attainment, behaviour or attendance.
Alternative Education is in a phase of transition. But it needs to be done strategically, and at a pace that is not at the expense of the students already in the system.
As our ambassador for children’s rights, I urge you to discuss this matter with Brent Council to ensure that our students’ time and hard work is not wasted.
Vice-Chair of Management Committee, Church Lane Pupil Referral Unit