Excluded children set to benefit from expansion of Luton's pupil referral unit

Expelled pupils and those unable to attend school for medical reasons in Luton will benefit from an expansion of the town's pupil referral unit, a meeting heard.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 10:39 am
Updated Friday, 18th June 2021, 10:58 am
The Avenue Centre for Education on Cutenhoe Road will increase from 50 places to 65 places
The Avenue Centre for Education on Cutenhoe Road will increase from 50 places to 65 places

Expelled pupils and those unable to attend school for medical reasons in Luton will benefit from an expansion of the town's pupil referral unit, a meeting heard.

Luton has a 50-place pupil referral unit, the Avenue Centre for Education (ACE) on Cutenhoe Road, which will increase its capacity to 65 from September, according to a report to the administration and regulation committee.

Local authorities are responsible for arranging suitable full-time education for permanently excluded pupils.

The council's senior education officer Debbie Craig said: "Our local authority behaviour service deals with pupils permanently excluded from school and those who can't attend school for medical reasons.

"We've consulted all staff and unions on the proposal. The feedback was that staff understood the reasons for the proposed restructure.

"There's one employee at risk of redundancy, who's been placed on the council's redeployment list.

"The proposal results in a saving of just under £70,000.

"This saving is to the dedicated schools grant rather than the council's general fund, because the service sits within that particular funding stream."

Liberal Democrat Stopsley councillor David Wynn asked whether the report is going to offer an improved service.

"It didn't strike me there was anything there to suggest there would be," he said.

"I only ask because too often we've been seeing services to do with children reduced in almost every respect."

Ms Craig replied: "I believe it's an improvement.

"The main thrust of this is to reconfigure services, so children who can't be in school because of their behaviour or needs around their behaviour are managed by a registered school, rather than a local authority service.

"They're much better placed to manage children out of school than our local authority team.

"It ensures consistency of practice, better oversight of children in that situation and puts us in a better position in terms of an Ofsted inspection.

"I believe this is a really important change. It's not a massive money saving process.

"Our pupil referral unit, ACE, is rated 'Good' by Ofsted. It manages our most challenging children very effectively.

"The pupil referral unit is much better set up with many more resources at its disposal to put together really creative packages and engage pupils who face the greatest challenge of reintegrating back into education.

"So we're quite passionate in our belief that this is the right thing to do for those children."

The committee approved the restructure.