‘Exceptionally high’ number of pupils being expelled from school
Twm Owen Local Democracy Reporter
The rising number of pupils being expelled from school in Monmouthshire has meant that a new base for them is needed.
The county council’s Pupil Referral Unit is considering plans to move to the site of a former special school at a cost of £1.2 million to ensure education can be provided in person, with youngsters kicked out of school currently having to learn online instead.
The unit, which teaches pupils who don’t have a school place in Monmouthshire as they’ve been expelled – or permanently excluded from school – is currently split across three sites at Hanbury House in Chepstow and the Old Library in Abergavenny, while Caerwent Village Hall has been used as a temporary site since Easter this year, but all have reached capacity.
Under plans, which the full council will be asked to approve this week, it is planned to relocate the service from Hanbury House in the centre of Chepstow to staff houses on the former Mounton House School site in nearby Pwllmeyric.
Pupils currently being taught at Caerwent Village Hall would also attend at Pwllmeyric, which would be a permanent and dedicated Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) for the south of Monmouthshire, while plans are also being drawn up to establish a more permanent, dedicated site in the north of the county, which will be subject to a further report to councillors.
Dr Morwenna Wagstaff, head of the council’s Pupil Referral Service (PRS), which has responsibility for all pupils unable to attend school for a variety of reasons, has stated in a report for the council two new bases will lead to improvements.
She stated: “This will put the PRS in a far more stable position to meet the increasing demands of the vulnerable population of pupils it serves.”
According to the report in September this year there were 19 pupils in the referral unit and there are now 28 on its roll, and most have been permanently excluded.
Dr Wagstaff said: “This is due to an exceptionally high number of permanent exclusions from within Monmouthshire County Council and of Monmouthshire council pupils attending schools in neighbouring counties, since the start of term.
“Subsequently the three PRU sites are at capacity and as such pupils coming onto roll now are being offered an online learning package until suitable alternatives can be arranged.”
According to the report: “The proposed accommodation will provide dedicated teaching and learning spaces for pupils along with specialist art, science, and life skills areas. There will be areas for outside learning and therapeutic support and intervention. Pupils will be taught in a safe and secure environment.”
Staff also have to call the police if pupils leave without permission when distressed but it’s thought with larger grounds they will be able to monitor them at a distance. It’s also hoped greater use of the grounds could be made to support outdoor activities, and learning, including a partnership with the council’s leisure service and to the benefit of pupils unable to attend school for health reasons.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.