Ofsted says pupil referral unit must ‘improve’

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A PUPIL referral unit has been branded ‘inadequate’ and told to improve by education watchdogs.

The Albany Centre, in Bury St Edmunds, has been warned by Ofsted that ‘significant improvement’ is needed in areas such as the leadership and management of teaching, learning and assessment and attendance monitoring.

Inspectors noted that the facility, in Beard Road, which caters for 14-16-year-olds with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, has suffered ‘a period of turmoil’ in the last year with ‘significant staffing issues’ including the absence of a permanent deputy head.

In a report, inspector John Mitcheson said that although the head Lis Barker had ‘worked tirelessly to maintain stability’ she had had to assume a range of additional responsibilities.

He said: “This has prevented her from systematically monitoring the quality of teaching, regularly assessing students’ learning and rigorously checking their attendance.”

The quality of teaching ‘varies from good to, at times, inadequate’ and teachers ‘do not set meaningful targets’.

The outcomes for individuals and groups of pupils was deemed ‘satisfactory’.

Mr Mitcheson added: “With the support of the local authority, the head is rebuilding the unit by strengthening the senior leadership team, galvanising existing staff and implementing improvement plans to return the unit to a much stronger position.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We and the leadership team at the Albany Centre are working together to ensure that the issues identified are addressed in a timely manner.”