9th May 2008 at 01:00
Q: I am new to the post of teacher in charge of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), having come from a mainstream secondary background
Q: I am new to the post of teacher in charge of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), having come from a mainstream secondary background. Are the inspections of (key stage 3 and 4) PRUs different from those of mainstream inspections? What areas do inspectors look at and will they examine the usual areas of achievement, leadership and management? Our inspection is imminent, so I want to be ready. Are there any useful guidance notes or websites?

A: All inspections follow the same basic framework, so inspectors will report on all the usual aspects: achievement and standards, pupils' personal development and wellbeing, quality of provision, and leadership and management. However, inspectors are given guidance specific to the inspection of PRUs.

The Every Child Matters agenda, which is the backbone to inspections, is likely to have even greater prominence in a PRU. Though there will be exceptions, such as medical problems and pregnancy, inspectors know that pupils are often at a PRU because they have shown challenging behaviour andor poor attendance. So inspectors are likely to focus on strategies to improve these aspects.

Pupils in PRUs are often quite vulnerable, so you can expect inspectors to keep an especially close eye on child protection and safety issues. Where appropriate, inspectors are also likely to look at the PRU's success in reintegrating pupils into mainstream schools.

Ofsted's survey last September examined PRUs in more than 20 local authorities. Visit and click on "publications and research", then "providers", then "pupil referral units". Sort by date to find the relevant report.

Q: At a recent conference, a PRU head, who is also an inspector, said that the highest grade that a PRU can realistically get is "good". Is that right?

A: No. At last count, there were about 20 pupil referral units that have been graded as outstanding (not the same ones as in the survey).

Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, contact him at

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