Merger plans unveiled for four pupil referral unit schools

Harbour PRU school in Lowestoft. Picture: Nick Butcher

Harbour PRU school in Lowestoft. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Four north Suffolk units educating youngsters unable to be taught in mainstream schools are planning to merge in order to improve their services.

A consultation has been launched over the plans for Harbour Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), Old Warren House and First Base, all in Lowestoft, to unite with The Attic in Bungay and its Carlton Colville subsidiary, The Dragonfly.

PRUs are schools teaching children where mainstream education is not appropriate for them at that moment, such as excluded pupils, those with illnesses or other reasons, and are designed to help support pupils back into mainstream settings.

Between them, those PRUs cater for 122 pupils, but bosses at the sites say a merger would better serve the needs of the students.

The consultation document said: “The management committees and the leadership of the four PRUs providing education in the north Suffolk area have become increasingly concerned about how best to continue to secure sustainable high-quality provision in the north Suffolk area.

“They have concluded that it would be in the best interest of learners if the four units were to come together under a single management committee and staffing structure, i.e. as a single organisation.

“They believe that this streamlined structure will enable them to develop the educational offer for students and get best value from the resources at their disposal.”

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Among the benefits of a merger are reduced overheads, reduced duplication of education, the ability to deliver a broader curriculum and better communication between the PRUs and other schools.

It is understood the reduced overheads will come from united back office functions and streamlined management.

The public consultation runs until December 18, with responses then informing a final decision.
That will be made in late December or early January and, if agreed, the revised structure will be implemented for September 2021.

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for education, Mary Evans, said: “SCC is consulting on the proposal to merge the four PRUs into a single organisation to enable more effective management of education and resources for the benefit of the children and young people attending the settings.

“We believe that the new structure has the potential to secure a more balanced curriculum for students, reduce duplication, reduce running costs and provide a more co-ordinated approach between schools and PRU services.”

“We would encourage everyone who has an interest to have their say as a part of the consultation.”

To take part and to find out more, visit and follow the links to the open consultations page.

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