District PRU was first established as a virtual school in 2008 and it opened on a fixed site at Anerley Street in September 2014. It was inspected in March 2017 and judged to be Inadequate and placed into Special Measures. The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “AJ”) outlines the progress made since the previous report to the Committee in November 2018.
That a further update on the progress of the academisation of District PRU be presented to the Committee in September 2019.
(Marium Haque – 01274 439255)
District PRU was first established as a virtual school in 2008 and it opened on a fixed site at Anerley Street in September 2014. It was inspected in March 2017 and judged to be Inadequate and placed into Special Measures. The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “AJ”) outlined the progress made since the previous report to the Committee in November 2018.
It was noted that the monitoring visit in December 2018 had been positive. The Deputy Director advised Members that since the report had been written, Exceed Multi Agency Trust (MAT) had undertaken its due diligence process as part of the academisation procedure of District PRU and had indicated that it was to withdraw as its sponsor. The District PRU would remain as Local Authority maintained provision with the same level of support on its journey out of special measures. It would be for the Regional Schools Commissioner to decide if she wanted to try to secure another sponsor. It was noted that Exceed MAT had not published the results of their due diligence exercise.
A member of the Committee who was a member of the Central PRU Management Committee was concerned that he was not aware of the Exceed MAT decision. Having visited the District PRU he had been impressed with the changes that had been made.
The Deputy Director noted that the High Needs Block was no longer able to support the PRU. She added that schools would work collaboratively on a delivery model for pupils not attending their school, but other provision. Schools would have to look at how they wanted to go forward with a collaborative approach to find a funding model.
A member noted that there were 80 places in the PRU but only 59 on roll and questioned whether the stability of funding could have been a reason why Exceed MAT had withdrawn as sponsor. The Deputy Director responded that the Local Authority had been open with Exceed MAT and they agreed that the model of delivery was appropriate.
A member referred to the nationally issue of street crime and the comments that provision for young people in PRUs was not sufficient. Given that the District PRU had been judged as inadequate she asked how Bradford’s PRU provision was viewed at present. The Deputy Director responded that every child was entitled to full time education and that the authority was working towards increasing the number of hours provided. She added that part time provision should be a short term, time limited process. The provision at the District PRU was on a journey out of special measures and was on a path to being judged as good. There was a keenness to build on Local Authority support to improve provision going forward.
A member asked if there was any perceived link between gang culture and PRU provision in Bradford. In response the Deputy Director noted that there was a surplus of PRU places in Bradford, so there was no evident correlation with gun crime or gang culture.
A member gave examples of young people who “fell through the net” and was concerned that provision was not holistic. The Deputy Director responded that a wider discussion was needed on the number of children moving around different provision and how to try to ensure that this did not happen. Other options needed to be considered and it was noted that an Advisory Service was available to all schools to give advice on implementing strategies in school. The Strategic Director added that measures were being taken to strengthen early help and how the authority worked with families to draw up a single plan round a family, including specialist services that were needed to catch young people before they were tempted to gun and knife crime.
A member stressed the importance of training and development of staff in mainstream schools to support pupils when they returned from the PRU or before they were excluded. The Deputy Director reported that work was being undertaken to identify leaders of the future from mainstream schools and that they spent a significant amount of time in the PRU as part of their personal development.
That the Committee be updated on the decision of the Regional Schools Commissioner regarding whether the District Pupil Referral Unit continues along the path of academisation including any decision by Exceed Academies Trust.
ACTION: Interim Strategic Director Children’s Services