A pupil referral unit in Denbighshire which supports learners to return to mainstream education is celebrating after being praised by education inspectors Estyn for effective practice.
The Ysgol Plas Cefndy Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) which also includes Milestones in Rhyl and Stepping Stones South in Ruthin houses children from 3-18 who are experiencing social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, with 78 pupils currently on the roll. The unit aims to return pupils to mainstream education or to further education, training or employment.
Inspectors visited the unit in February and deemed standards; well-being and attitudes to learning; teaching and learning experiences; care, support and guidance and leadership and management all to be excellent and reflects “very strong, sustained performance and practice”.
Following the inspection report, Estyn produced and published a case study that has been shared with other schools across Wales and visitors to Estyn’s website: www.estyn.gov.uk
The case study states: “Before a pupil is considered for a PRU placement there is an agreed graduated response, which schools follow to try to keep pupils in mainstream school. The PRU supports this response through the outreach services it provides. Members of the team work alongside schools, providing crisis intervention, group and 1:1 sessions, advice to staff and bespoke training. The PRU also has an open door policy encouraging school-based staff to visit the PRU to observe best practice.
“By the time a pupil is referred for placement, the PRU will already know them. PRU staff will have an understanding of the pupil’s barriers to learning and will be able to tailor the curriculum to help them overcome these barriers and make a successful return to school, or college for those in Year 11.
The report highlights the work of the outreach is praised for its “flexibility and quick response when a pupil is in crisis and has become the most effective provision for pupils to make reintegration a success”.
Some of the report’s other highlights:
- Pupils in the primary department spend half-days in the PRU and half-days in school. This approach is key to ensuring that pupils still have a sense of belonging to their mainstream school and this has been a significant factor in the success of the programme over many years.
- Reintegration is carefully considered during ‘Pupil Centred Planning’ reviews, where specific aspects of the timetable are considered.
- Post-placement, the team continues to support the pupil in a sensitive and agreed way, be it short term in the classroom, sessional support or just checking in with the pupil during the week.
- The report also reflects on the fact that a very high percentage of the pupils from the PRU have returned to, and maintained their placements at mainstream schools.
- The strong links with mainstream schools, who each have designated outreach teachers and support staff, help the PRU to share good practice with all of its schools. The PRU is part of the wider PRU network across North Wales where the sharing of good practice is at the heart of the agenda.
- Staff from PRUs and Inclusion services across Wales are always welcome visitors, giving them an opportunity to see what is done, and for the PRU to gain new ideas that can be introduced in its setting.
Nicola Wynne Roberts, Headteacher at Ysgol Plas Cefndy, said: “I’m delighted that Estyn have recognised the great work going on at the school. I have a dedicated, caring and passionate team that do their utmost to help children and young people re-integrate into mainstream education.
“The Ysgol Plas Cefndy community is really proud of its record of helping pupils and for its achievements. We were delighted with the outcome of the inspection report itself and it has been an honour to share our experiences with the wider world of education”.
Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Cabinet Lead Member for Education, Children, Young People and Welsh Language, said: “Being invited by Estyn to provide a case study is a remarkable achievement and I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to Nicola and the whole team at Plas Cefndy for being recognised in such a way.
“Ysgol Plas Cefndy was the only Pupil Referral Unit in the whole of the UK to be awarded ‘excellent’ across the board and the results of the inspection speak volumes”.