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Schools: Pupil Referral Units

Volume 694: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2007

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 10 July (WA 214), whether the reason given for not including pupil referral units in the achievement and attainment tables or local authority averages that “they are not required to follow the national curriculum” is consistent with the inclusion of independent and special schools in the tables; and whether there is a case for recognising, encouraging and publicising the achievements of pupil referral units. [HL4827]

Though special schools are not legally required to follow the national curriculum (NC), those pupils who are able to do so are entered for tests and public examinations. In the interests of recognising that many pupils with special needs are capable of high achievement, the results of special schools are included in the tables.

Independent schools also are not legally obliged to follow the NC and are not included in the key stage 2 and key stage 3 tables. However, the vast majority of pupils in the independent sector are entered for public examinations and are included in the key stage 4 (GCSE) tables and post-16 (A-level) tables.

Pupil referral units (PRUs) are different because their purpose is not to provide a permanent place of education. The purpose of PRUs is to provide a placement for pupils temporarily displaced from mainstream schools. The majority of pupils spend less than two terms in a PRU and many never sit an exam. Any test and exam results that were published would not give a reliable picture of educational standards.

We believe that good PRUs should be recognised and encouraged, but we do not believe that publishing their results in the achievement and attainment tables would achieve that. They are inspected by Ofsted and, where a PRU is achieving well, this will be detailed in the school’s inspection report. PRUs that are judged by Ofsted to be “outstanding” appear alongside other high-performing schools on Ofsted’s annual outstanding provider list.

With the plans to include PRUs in pupil level data collection, we anticipate including their results in the LA averages once we know that the data are reliable.