Agenda item

Proposed Restructure of RMBC Pupil Referral Units

-           Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services to report.


Councillor Lakin, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families Services, introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services, which detailed how in recent years, there had been a changing landscape for the national alternative provision sector.


The Charlie Taylor Report on Improving Alternative Provision made a range of recommendations to re-shape provision and how better to meet the needs of those children on the periphery and outside of mainstream education. In acknowledging the principles of the report, the Local Authority, in partnership with schools, conducted a review of existing pupil referral unit provision in Rotherham and at the same time had to take account of the implementation of the Schools Funding Reforms 2013-14.


The existing pupil referral unit provision consisted of three ‘partnership’ pupil referral units (Riverside, St. Mary’s and the Bridge), the Rowan Centre (for pregnant schoolgirls and teenage mothers) and the ARC (for primary pupils (Y1-4) plus some KS3 pupils with more complex needs).  In addition, there was a primary SEN Unit at Thorogate School for Y5/6 pupils and an Alternative Curriculum Service that organised and managed off site provision for pupils that schools felt unable to cater for.


Details around the current provision were set out in detail as part of the report and further information was provided on the new proposal of having two PRU units – one a 65-place (secondary) pupil referral unit located across 2 sites (currently St Mary’s and Riverside) offering part-time, full-time, short and long-term placements.  GCSEs would be offered as well as appropriate vocational courses.  Links to both pre and post-16 offers at further education were intended. This would be operational with effect from January, 2014 which would leave the Bridge premises vacant.


The primary provision under this proposal was still subject to review as the current system was not meeting pupil or school needs.


The PRU 2 would be a 25-place specialist centre (jointly funded through the Local Authority and Barnardo’s at Rowan in Rawmarsh) that would support the education of pupils with a range of health needs including teenage pregnancy.  It was proposed that transition to this wider range of provision would take place from September to October with the centre being fully operational with its revised remit from October half-term 2013.  The Centre would be re-branded to reflect the change from being a teen parent unit to an education centre for pupils with a range of health needs.  There would continue to be an on-site nursery for the children of teenage parents and the offer would incorporate CAMHS Education and Home Tuition Services.


The establishments’ staffing would see numbers reduce from seventy-five to sixty-three, which would see an efficiency shift to ensure all staff were appropriately qualified.


The financial information and risks and uncertainties associated with this proposed restructuring were set out in detail as part of the report.


Cabinet Members asked a range of questions relating to the proposals moving forward around whether this proposed restructure would improve the provision in Rotherham and ensure that Out of Authority placements were reduced, coherent links with CAMHS, Public Health and the CCG, the phased in process and the timetable for completion, transportation allocation for pupils, identification of appropriate premises and pinchpoints to avoid gaps in provision.


Resolved:-  That the existing ‘five’ registered pupil referral unit model in Rotherham be streamlined into a ‘two’ registered pupil referral unit model that more appropriately meets the needs of those vulnerable pupils who are unable to access mainstream school (as per statutory guidance).

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