Pupil Referral Units

Department for Education written question – answered at on 19 July 2023.

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Photo of Lord Boateng Lord Boateng Labour

To ask His Majesty's Government how many pupils have been placed in Pupil Referral Units in England in each of the last three years for which figures are available; and what proportion of those pupils are (1) boys, (2) of Black Caribbean origin, and (3) of another ethnic minority.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department publishes annual data on the gender and ethnicity of pupils at schools in England. The most recently published data is available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-pupils-and-their-characteristics/2022-23. The publication includes figures for ‘State-funded alternate provision (AP) schools’, which include pupil referral units and alternative provider free schools and academies. The attached tables, taken from the published data, show breakdowns of pupils in these schools by gender and ethnicity from January 2021 to January 2023.

The SEND and AP Improvement Plan, published on 2 March 2023, set out a new national vision and delivery model for the AP system.  Departmental reforms will see AP schools working with mainstream settings to provide targeted support and interventions to improve behaviour, attendance and reduce the numbers of preventable exclusions, including for those groups with a greater likelihood of being referred to alternative provision.

Schools also have a clear duty not to discriminate against pupils based on protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Ofsted’s assessment of behaviour in schools includes specific consideration of rates, patterns and reasons for exclusions, as well as any differences between groups of pupils.

The department’s ‘Understanding your data: a guide for school governors and academy trustees available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-your-data-a-guide-for-school-governors-and-academy-trustees/understanding-your-data-a-guide-for-school-governors-and-academy-trustees, makes clear that governing boards should carefully consider the level and characteristics of pupils who are leaving the school. They should challenge the school and academy trust management teams on any permanent exclusions to ensure it is only used as a last resort, as well as on directions for pupils to be to be educated off site in AP schools. They should also consider whether there are any patterns to the reasons or timing of such moves.

HL9173_table (xlsx, 28.1KB)

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