Suffolk County Council and the Management Committees of First Base Lowestoft, Harbour PRU, Old Warren House PRU, and The Attic PRU (including the Dragonfly) consulted on a proposal to merge the four PRUs into a single organisation to enable more effective management of education and resources for the benefit of the children and young people attending the settings.
Background and introduction
Local authorities are responsible for arranging suitable full-time education for permanently excluded pupils, and for other pupils who, because of illness or other reasons, would not receive suitable education without such provision. This applies to all children of compulsory school age resident in the local authority area, whether or not they are on the roll of a school, and whatever type of school they attend. This provision is generally called Alternative Provision. Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) sit within this description of Alternative Provision.
Pupil Referral Units intervene to provide intensive support and strategies to re-engage pupils in their learning with the objective of reintegrating them into mainstream education. PRUs are not expected to provide long term education for pupils. Pupils join at different times of the year; many are dual registered with their own school.
The Management Committees and the Leadership of the four PRUs providing education in the north Suffolk area - Harbour PRU, Old Warren House, First Base and The Attic PRU - have become increasingly concerned about how best to continue to secure sustainable high-quality alternative provision in the North Suffolk area. They have concluded that it would be in the best interests of learners if the four Units were to come together under a single Management Committee and staffing structure i.e. as a single organisation. They believe that this streamlined structure will enable them to develop the educational offer for students and get best value from the resources they have at their disposal.
The Local Authority is supportive of this proposal.
This document sets out the proposal, covering:
- The present position
- The benefits of the proposal
- The consultation process
- The decision-making timetable
- Details of how you can respond to the consultation
* The Dragonfly Unit is currently commissioned separately from Suffolk County Council (SCC) to The Attic Pupil Referral Unit. The Landing provision is outside of the scope of this consultation as it is not an Alternative Provision/PRU offer i.e. it offers specialist provision for learners with cognition and learning or communication and interaction needs
The present position
The four PRUs are currently organised as follows
No of pupils
Harbour PRU KS2/3/4
Old Warren House
Lowestoft on a site adjacent to Harbour PRU
Based on the site of The Ashley School in Lowestoft
The Dragonfly provision
Currently based in Bungay and Walpole
At present the PRU provision in North Suffolk is fragmented around several centres with two separate organisational structures. NLPP and The Attic have their own management committees which are responsible for providing pupils attending the provision with a stable, high quality education in an appropriate environment. As small organisations with limited and reducing financial resources, it has become increasingly difficult to achieve these aims. Recognition of this has led to a review of the way the organisations work and to the present proposal which is expected to achieve greater efficiencies which can be used for the benefit of pupils.
The benefits of the proposal
The proposed changes to amalgamate the PRU services will provide, in the opinion of the Suffolk County Council and PRU managers, a more coherent and efficient service that will: better serve the needs of its students. A new structure has the potential to:
• reduce running (overhead) costs
• secure a broader and more balanced curriculum offer for students
• reduce duplication of effort
• provide a more coordinated approach to communication between schools and the PRU services.
The proposal to merge would also provide an opportunity to consider how to bring back Attic pupils who have been temporarily located in Bungay following the closure of the Lovewell Road Unit. If this can be achieved, it has the potential to reduce travel time for those students, and travel costs, and will widen the opportunities for the PRU to work with mainstream schools on transition.
Watch a webinar (recorded on 25 November 2020) where you can hear more about the proposal and any questions that were asked.