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Not all referred with same brush

I cannot speak for 11 of the pupil referral units inspected by the Office for Standards in Education last year and mentioned in your leading article on December 29 ("Referral backwards").

I can, however, vouch for the quality of one of them, the Acomb Centre in York established and maintained by North Yorkshire County Council, which was given high praise by the inspectors.

They found generally satisfactory education, pupils making steady progress while at the unit with good attitudes towards their learning, and they commented on their excellent attendance and behaviour. The environment is described as conducive to learning and a place where pupils apply themselves. The rate at which full re-integration is achieved is said to be a tribute to the links retained with the pupils' normal schools.

The inspectors found good teaching and a generally satisfactory quality of education at Acomb. They praised the unit's leadership and its successful management of behaviour modification. The OFSTED report describes the accommodation as good and the learning resources as well-used. Value for money is a feature at the centre.

Relationships between staff and pupils are described as very good and pupils are said to like attending the unit while remaining aware that its provision is short-term and part-time. Finally, the inspectors' report offers constructive suggestions as to how the centre, the authority and its schools can make further progress.

The quality found at Acomb demonstrates clearly how easy it is to take criticisms which may well be justified by OFSTED's overall report as applying equally to each of the individual centres inspected.

No one could infer criticism of the Acomb Centre from the highly complimentary OFSTED report on it. Acomb sets a standard for others to aspire to and fully deserves the praise OFSTED gave it.

FRED EVANS

County education officer County Hall Northallerton North Yorkshire

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