Coventry & Warwickshire

NUT concern over Warwickshire pupil exclusion unit closure

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has criticised a decision to close a specialist unit for excluded pupils in Warwickshire.

Warwickshire County Council's cabinet has approved proposals to shut the pupil referral unit (PRU) next year.

The unit, which has sites in Rugby, Leamington Spa and Keresley, taught 146 excluded pupils in 2010 but was placed in special measures by Ofsted in June.

An NUT spokesman said the union was "disappointed" by the council decision.

Andy Summers, president for the Warwickshire division of the NUT, said the union was "very concerned about the way in which the local authority has managed the closure", which will happen by September 2012.

'Uncertain future'

"We're very concerned about what that means both for young people with significant behaviour difficulties in the county and also what is says about the way in which the county, and beyond that Ofsted, have managed staff.

"We're very concerned that what was up until 2009 an effective but expensive provision was taken apart by the authority, redesigned, then failed by Ofsted."

The Conservative-run council plans to re-allocate government funds to help excluded pupils remain in their own schools or go to college.

Mr Summers said the union "would be very happy for a properly organised inclusive model" but raised questions about the scheme's credibility.

He said he was worried that "at a time when secondary schools are becoming academies... schools will not hold on to difficult pupils" because of what Mr Summers called potential "damage" to league tables.

"A significant small number of behaviourally damaged young people challenged by their background and their circumstances now face an uncertain future.

"We are not happy with this turnaround, though we do not question the fact that Warwickshire [County Council] needed to look at the process.

"It is our view that they've taken the wrong decision."

Councillor Heather Timms, portfolio holder for children, young people and families, said: "We have proposed devolving funding to schools to play a more active role in addressing exclusion because they know their pupils best.

"We believe that by introducing this new approach that we will be able to meet the needs of more pupils in their own school and provide personalised external support where necessary."

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