Effectively supporting pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs

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Effectively supporting pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs

Over the past few years Ceredigion Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) has strengthened pupils’ performance and improved wellbeing. A management committee monitors standards, curriculum and policies and challenges the PRU on performance. Self-evaluation is robust and a strong system is in place to track progress and monitor actions.


Number of pupils: 24
Age range: 7 - 16 years

Context and background to sector-leading practice

Ceredigion Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) is a Ceredigion local authority provision for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs. The PRU aims to return all pupils to mainstream education and/or to further education, training or employment.

All pupils receive full-time provision as a result of the excellent partnership with mainstream schools, further education college, training provider and vocational providers. The PRU also offers an outreach behaviour support service to mainstream schools of the local authority.

The local authority worked with an external consultant to audit the quality of PRU provision in spring 2010. The conclusion of this work was that the pattern of provision at the PRU was not fit for purpose and did not meet learners’ needs. In response, a new provision model was created to support learners from key stages 2 to key stage 4. The local authority has supported and monitored this provision very carefully. It has strengthened the role of the management committee and this has been pivotal to the success of the PRU. Regular reports on progress have been taken to the council’s scrutiny committee and to cabinet meetings. As a result, senior officers and elected members of the council know the service very well.

Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice

The management committee monitoring role includes reviewing the PRU’s standards, curriculum and management policies. A timetable for monitoring standards and provision across the PRU is set well in advance to enable all committee members to make the necessary arrangements to take an active role in the whole process. The main aim of these activities is to raise awareness and understanding of provision and standards at the PRU.

The PRU has identified specific committee members to be responsible for monitoring different aspects of provision. This work incudes committee members monitoring samples of pupils’ work, lesson and curriculum plans. Committee members observe a sample of lessons across the PRU and discuss work with groups of pupils. Curriculum leaders discuss findings at the next full management committee meeting. These activities help the management committee increase its understanding of what and how pupils learn and helps committee members challenge the PRU on its performance.

Management committee meetings are structured to ensure that self-evaluation and monitoring progress are central to its meetings. A range of reports are received to monitor progress against the PRU’s Improvement Plan. PRU leaders are held accountable for progress against the Improvement Plan actions and performance across the various sites of the PRU. If there are discrepancies between agreed actions and outcomes, strategies are put into place to bring about improvement. The emphasis is always on improving pupil standards and wellbeing.

The PRU has a robust and meticulous system to track progress and monitor actions have a positive impact on standards.

As result, all staff understand that they are fully accountable for securing pupils’ improvement. The role of committee members as ‘critical friends’, enable them to challenge the PRU leaders in a supportive manner.

Impact on provision and learners’ standards

All pupils at the PRU have experienced difficulties in their previous educational placements; these include periods excluded from school. Over time at the PRU, they make excellent progress in their behaviour and attitudes.

As a result of the consistent behaviour management of staff, pupils’ make very good progress across a range of indicators:

  • A reduction in exclusions - in the year prior to attending the PRU, the current group of pupils lost 370 school days due to exclusions and one had had a permanent exclusion. In contrast, in 2011-12, the same pupils had in total, one half-day exclusion. This is exceptional improvement.
  • Improved Attendance – in 2011-12, all pupils improved their attendance rates and/ or remained above the local authority and PRU targets. Overall attendance has improved from an average of 60% prior to attending the PRU to 90.7% after a period of time at the PRU.
  • Return to mainstream - pupils in key stage 2 and key stage 3 make a successful return to mainstream school. Almost all pupils in key stage 4 move on to further education, training or employment.
  • Skills - pupils in all three key stages make good progress in developing literacy and numeracy skills. All pupils improve their social and communication skills and learn how to behave more appropriately in the classroom. The attainment of pupils in key stage 4 is very good.

The pace of improvement in the last two years has been significant.