Thoughts on a PRU by @jordyjax

Thoughts on a PRU

There’s no inspiration for this other than  its title. I am thinking about why I work in a primary PRU. My background : I was teaching in a village primary on a little cobbled square but had returned after being seconded to a difficult urban environment. Whilst there , I taught and managed a range of SEN / BESD children and this married together my preferred two loves. I found it difficult to pick up my previous life and vowed to look for a new challenge.
It was my school adviser who presented to me the opportunity to work in my current environment; she informed me that there was an opportunity to be seconded to a primary  PRU as deputy head so off I went. At first I felt a bit out of my depth as the children were very challenging; it wasn’t about locked doors and padded time- out rooms as first feared but the reasons behind their exclusions quickly became apparent. Nevertheless I soon got to grips with the job and despite some initial setbacks started to enjoy myself.
So what is it like to work in a PRU? Well as you might imagine, particularly if you are familiar with Mr Drew, it is not easy. Children come to us for a variety of reasons, ranging from behavioural problems resulting in dual placements with mainstream schools to more severe issues that end with permanent exclusions. The common denominator is a sense of frustration and failure which manifests itself in swearing, destruction of property, fighting with peers and assaults on staff. There are no quick fixes and the key to success with our kids lies in the quality of the relationships we build  coupled with firm rules and boundaries.
When the children come to us they often experience relief that they are given a fresh start in small classes of no more than eight pupils. They are better able to cope in our setting supported by experienced staff who can provide for their individual needs. We have secure systems of rewards and consequences but outside of these we don’t carry over issues and problems; each day is a new day, we are in it for the long haul.
Parents and carers experience the relief of not being summoned to school on a daily basis but learn to work with us in managing their children’s behaviour. The children move on from us either to their own schools, new schools or to specialist provision.
My job, aside from my in- house deputy role supporting the head, is to act as SENCO and liaise with mainstream schools and other agencies. We have a strong early intervention team which works hard to prevent exclusion and the success rate is high. I am passionate about promoting children’s educational opportunities which often inform their life chances in the future.
It is easy to brand our kids as wasters, little thugs and trainee criminals but at the end of the day they are children and the labels are plain wrong. They don’t necessarily come from difficult backgrounds and often have medical issues such as ASD and ADHD to contend with; despite controversy, medication can have a transformational effect on behaviour and so can being placed in the right provision.
I am ashamed that in our society  outside constraints mean that mainstream schools are desperate to offload children with medical and mental health needs; sadly provision for these is limited and underfunded. I am extremely concerned that some children are labelled as problems without recourse to societal duty of care. I am appalled that very young children are being written off because they cannot access early years’ provision. And so it goes on …We do try to put as much help and support in place as we can for our pupils and schools but the sad fact is behavioural problems are becoming more widespread and demand for our services is on the rise.
All our children deserve our input and our love; individually they are fantastic and special and are responsive to the time and effort we put in. No child should be written off. Our children are on the fringes of society and we are their last chance saloon. I love my job and rejoice in our successes . I wouldn’t be anywhere else.


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