Highly rated Ely referral unit to close

THE Ely pupil referral unit –which provides education for 24 youngsters not in mainstream school – is to close this summer, because of education cut backs, and some members of staff are facing possible redundancy.

The unit – which has had glowing Ofsted reports in the past – closes its Barton Road doors for the last time at the end of this summer term.

Although the unit is being de-registerd, its building in Barton Road will stay open, to be used as a vocational learning centre for youngsters using pupil referral units in Cambridge and Fenland.

“It will provide work shops in motor mechanics, carpentry and cookery,” said Tom Jefford, head of Cambridgeshire Youth Services.

“The number of places needed for pupils outside of school continues to reduce. There will be 120 places across the county, in a new united PRU we are creating on three sites in Huntingdon, Cambridge and Fenland. this will be called the County School.

“We are doing our best to use our facilities as economically as possible. It is a good building and there is a good group of people there.”

Current pupils of the Ely unit will be transferred to which ever of the other PRU sites suits their needs.

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Mr Jefford said he hoped some staff will be retained, but others may be redeployed. “But we cannot rule out redundancies,” he confirmed.

Back in 2009, an inspection report said: “Ely Pupil Referral Unit offers a good level of education. Some aspects of this provision, including care guidance and support, partnership working and safeguarding arrangements, are outstanding.”

The students currently using the unit are aged between 11 and 16; and are from the catchments areas of the City of Ely Community College, Soham Village College, Bottisham Village College and Witchford Village College.”

The PRU says its educational programme “Seeks to provide the students’ intellectual, social and emotional needs.”

The unit – housed in the former Centre E building – has classrooms for English, maths, ICT, science, art and careers. It also has fully equipped workshops and students have access to a recreational area that has a reading area, pool table, table football and games consoles.

The PRU says the majority of its students have achieved “a broad range of qualifications as well as showing improvement in their attendance, attitude and interpersonal skills. This enables them to successfully access further education, training or employment placements upon leaving the PRU.”

In September of last year, 94 per cent of the PRU’s year 11 students went on into education, employment or training.