Gove gets it wrong on Pupil Referral Units

Janet Downs's picture
The Independent reported on 28 January that Mr Gove proposes to turn Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) into privately sponsored academies. Mr Gove says that one organisation, SkillForce, made up of ex-Army veterans, has already expressed an interest in running pupil referral units – as has Ark. The reason he gives is "Most local authority pupil referral units aren't up to snuff," he added. "Ofsted said they're the weak link in the education chain."

OFSTED has said no such thing. On the contrary, a report says that in 2005/6 “over half the PRUs inspected nationally were good or outstanding, but one in eight was inadequate”. OFSTED also said that the success of PRU depends on their own response to the challenges they face and the support they receive from their local authority.

In Govespeak, then, “over half” being “good or outstanding” means “aren’t up to snuff”.
How long is Mr Gove going to keep getting away with making false statements like this?
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Karin Thompson's picture
Mon, 31/01/2011 - 16:23

In addition to under-representing the quality of much PRU education, there is, as yet, no evidence that the Government recognises the complexity of educating this very needy group of pupils within the current system where PRUs often receive significantly less funding than other schools and are frequently unable to access extended services or other support services on equal terms with other eduucational establishments.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 01/02/2011 - 08:22

OFSTED make it clear that PRUs need to have Local Authority support if they are to succeed. However, Mr Gove's response to this OFSTED judgement is to remove PRUs for LA control and hand them over.

Kevin Burrell's picture
Wed, 07/09/2011 - 17:31

I work with the PRUs in Buckinghamshire. Four of the five of them carry Outstanding judgements from Ofsted, the other a Good. The most recently inspected PRU was judged Outstanding for behaviour - this is true of 25% of PRUs nationally.

There appears to be an ideological rather than rational reason for the drive to privatize PRUs - no surprise there. The PRUs in Buckinghamshire, like many others around the country, offer provision that engages otherwise disenfranchised young people at risk of becoming NEET or failing to achieve qualifications. We need to commission a piece of research to look at the benefits PRUs give in terms of the social value of investment and that value they add to individual young people in terms of increased participation, continuation in education and achievement. This will allow us to counter the spurious generalisations used to make a case for privatization of these high performing schools simply, in my view, because they nurture and encourage rather than offering more authoritarian approaches to students.

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