Troublesome children are in the right hands

Stuart Cateridge - Headteacher of Bucks Primary Pupil Referral Unit at the Abbey Centre in Aylesbury - Re: Outstanding Ofsted report
Stuart Cateridge - Headteacher of Bucks Primary Pupil Referral Unit at the Abbey Centre in Aylesbury - Re: Outstanding Ofsted report
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A centre that deals with troublesome children has been given an ‘outstanding’ seal of approval by Ofsted.

The Bucks Primary Pupil Referral Unit caters for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and who are at risk of being kicked out of school.

The unit helps around 40 pupils aged five to 11 on a part and full-time basis across three sites, including in Aylesbury.

Ofsted inspectors were suitably impressed with the centre’s work to rate it as ‘outstanding’ in all categories, including pupils’ achievement and behaviour.

Headteacher Stuart Cateridge said he was delighted with the outcome. He said: “I was very confident that we could be outstanding but with the new, more rigorous Ofsted inspection framework it was always going to be tough to get.”

When dealing with troubled children, attendance can often be a problem. However, the Ofsted report said: “The unit works exceptionally well with parents and carers, and as a result, attendance is rapidly improving.”

Attendance is averaging at more than 90%, which puts the unit on a par with mainstream schools.

Pupils who attend the unit remain on the roll of their mainstream school and often split their time between the two. The aim of the unit is to provide education to the children but also help tackle their social and behavioural issues so they can eventually return to full-time mainstream education.

On how the centre is doing in this respect, the report said: “Behaviour in classes and around the unit’s sites is outstanding.

“Much time is given by staff to helping pupils develop their social skills and to have a better understanding about right and wrong. Consequently, pupils’ self-esteem grows because they take part in school life much more effectively.”

Regular meetings are held between the unit, family members and the child’s school to discuss how they are progressing.

Mr Cateridge said: “When all three agree that the pupil’s behaviour back in school has improved to the point of being able to manage in the school, they no longer attend classes with us.”

Teachers work with small groups of children at the unit so their individual needs can be catered for and all teaching staff have had behaviour management training so they can cope with any situation.

Despite the excellent report, there were still suggested improvements to help sustain pupil progress. These included further definition of the roles of subject leaders and ensuring that all marking of pupils’ work includes comments on what they need to do to improve.

There is also a focus at the school to ensure teachers are up to speed with curriculum changes.

Another priority is making sure there is a smooth transition when the centre switches from being run by the county council to its own management committee in April.