Number of primary school children at referral units soars

While the vast majority of  pupil referral units (PRU) are for students who have been excluded from secondary school, official government data has shown a sharp increase in children under the age of 11 being taught in PRUs. The Guardian reports.

Eight years ago, 715 children aged between five and 10 were being educated in a PRU, but by 2018 the number had gone up to 1,572, Labour analysis of official government statistics has shown.

The research also found that in 2018 there were 42 under-fives being taught in PRUs, including both part-time and full-time pupils, compared with five in 2011. Of those, 28 children are toddlers, aged two and under.

According to the latest Department for Education (DfE) figures, 62 year 1 children and 163 year 2s were in PRUs in 2018, rising to 454 in year 6, the final year of primary.

The analysis will add to anxieties about the rising number of pupils being excluded from mainstream schools, the vast majority of whom will end up in PRUs and alternative provision (AP). The number of children permanently excluded from state primary, secondary and special schools in England increased by about 1,000 between 2016 and 2017.

Secondary schools accounted for more than four out of five permanent or temporary exclusions, according to DfE figures, with “permanent disruptive behaviour” accounting for the bulk of the increase. The number of pupils in PRUs or AP peaks in year 11 with 7,420 students, of which just over 5,000 are male.

Commenting on the research, the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “Through our National Education Service, Labour will reform the accountability system and give schools the resources they need to support all pupils.”

Read more Number of primary school children at referral units soars

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