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Education units for excluded pupils to expand

School league tables revealed.
School league tables revealed.

More places will be created at education units for pupils who have been permanently excluded from school to accommodate a rising number of children.

Wakefield Council’s cabinet this week approved a proposal to increase capacity at the district’s two Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).

The centres cater for children who due to permanent exclusion, illness or otherwise, would not receive suitable education provision.

Under the plan, the location of the Priory PRU in Crofton would be swapped with the Springfield Centre PRU in Lupset.

Priory currently accommodates 50 students from Years 3 to 9.

The youngsters, and staff, would be moved to Springfield, where the building is bigger.

Springfield currently accommodates 90 pupils from Years 10 and 11. These, and staff, would be moved to Priory, which would then undergo an expansion to create four new classrooms and a vocational centre.

A report to senior councillors said more space was needed for an increasing number of students in need of PRU education.

It said: “This is the most effective use of the two existing pupil referral sites to maximise the school sites and land available to provide the necessary PRU places.”

The cost of the proposal is expected to be £1.75m. This includes triple glazing at Priory, to help mitigate against any noise from the high-speed rail network HS2, which is expected to run along the far end of the centre’s playing field.

The report said each PRU was struggling financially, with a combined deficit of £37k in 2016/17. The centres have been spending money on off-site provision including additional buildings and staff to cope with growing demand.

During a consultation on the plans, one objection was received, raising concerns that the change will impact on pupil’s welfare and that travel times would increase.