Good support for vulnerable pupils in Wales but further action is needed to safeguard pupils and staff
Teaching and support staff in pupils referral units in Wales do a difficult job with pupils whose behaviour is challenging. Generally, they are well trained and are confident when working with vulnerable pupils. However, most pupil referral units need to review and improve their policies, pupil-planning systems, risk assessment and records management, according to a report published today.
Inspectors from Estyn and Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) visited seven pupil referral units in Wales and their local authorities, and evaluated their work against the Welsh Government’s guidance about safe and effective behaviour management strategies.
The report, A survey of the arrangements for pupils’ wellbeing and behaviour management in pupil referral units, found that most pupil referral units have appropriate policies in place, but not all provide enough helpful guidance for staff on managing challenging behaviour or child protection.
Six out of the seven pupil referral units visited have adopted behaviour management strategies which have been accredited by the British Institute for Learning Disabilities. However, one pupil referral unit visited had not provided suitable training to its staff.
Generally, pupils feel cared for and respected by staff, but some claim that staff have sometimes used physical restraint to force to move them to a ‘time out’ area when they have refused to go voluntarily. Some parents and pupils also express concern about the way these incidents are recorded and investigated.
A spokesperson for the inspectorates said:
We appreciate that every day staff at pupil referral units do a difficult job and most staff do this well. But there are a number of areas which need to be urgently addressed in order to safeguard staff and pupils and improve the service they deliver.
The main areas of concern are a lack of clear standards and guidance for the use of restrictive physical intervention, poor record management and risk assessment, and accountability.
All local authorities and pupil referral units should read this report and implement the recommendations.
The report provides a number of recommendations for local authorities and pupil referral units to undertake better collaborative working, adopt best practice, and align their policies fully with Welsh Government and local authority guidance.
For further information please visit www.estyn.gov.uk