It has been revealed by a Labour councillor in Suffolk that children as young as four years old are waiting for a place at a Pupil Referral Unit.
According to new analysis, forty-six children have been referred to a PRU, but are still waiting for a place.
The shocking figures show that 60% of those children are of primary school age [eleven and under] and 15% are aged just six or under.
Labour say that the need for four-year-olds to be sent to PRUs in the first place is a very worrying trend, but the fact Suffolk County Council cannot offer a specialist place for those children is a deeply distressing development.
Of the forty-six children waiting for a place at a PRU with a referral, thirty-five have been excluded from their current schools either temporarily or permanently at some point during their time at the school. This means that the Tory-led Suffolk County Council is failing in its statutory duty to provide children with the best education possible.
Cllr Jack Abbott, Labour’s Education Spokesperson at Suffolk County Council, was left shocked at the findings; “Frankly, I am stunned. To have children as young as four years old even needing a place at a PRU, never mind waiting for one, shows that there is something going fundamentally wrong with the system in Suffolk.”
Cllr Abbott said; “The fact that we have so many children waiting for PRUs does not mean that we have a shortage of PRU places in Suffolk, indeed we have one of the highest levels of provision in the country and that is to be praised.
“However, this does indicate significant failings elsewhere and begs the questions; are all the children in PRUs in the right setting? Are PRUs being given the right resources to turn around children who need their help? Do we have enough in-school support? Do we have enough specialist learning provision? Are we putting enough money and resources into Early Years and social care? In short, the answer to all these questions is no.
“We need Suffolk County Council to act quickly and decisively to start tackling this crisis.”
Pupil Referral Units are educational settings maintained by a local authority to provide education for children who have been excluded, have health issues or are otherwise unable to attend a mainstream school for a variety of different reasons. The long-term aim of PRUs is to provide support services to those children that need them in order to enable them to return to mainstream schooling.
Suffolk has the fourth highest amount of primary pupils sent to PRUs in the country, with over six hundred children sent to PRUs between September 2013 and July 2017.