go

More cuts to the most vulnerable school pupils put forward

Facilities for excluded pupils may be slashed

William Walker

Reporter:

William Walker

Contact:

01635 886641

School

MORE cuts to services helping the most vulnerable school pupils are being proposed by West Berkshire Council in a drive to make savings of more than £1m.

New proposals have been put forward to cut by half a service that supports children who are expelled from school, and to close two pupil referral units for excluded children at Newbury and Thatcham.

As part of the cost-cutting proposals, the PRUs at Newbury’s Riverside Community Centre and Thatcham’s Moorside Community Centre have been earmarked for closure.

West Berkshire Council is also proposing to cut the number of places for secondary school children who are permanently excluded, from 60 to 36.

Explaining the decision, the council, which is responsible for arranging suitable provision for excluded pupils, blamed a lack of funding for the proposed cuts. It said: “Like many councils, we have to make difficult decisions about how we spend money. We can no longer afford to deliver alternative provision in the same way.

“We have explored how we could deliver education to vulnerable pupils differently. We are proposing to change the way we deliver alternative provision in West Berkshire.”

The proposals include allowing some excluded pupils to continue their education at the same mainstream schools from which they were excluded, and bringing the number of PRUs down from six to four.

The changes to the services, which affect pupils aged between five and 16, would save the council an estimated £1.1m. The council said it was also proposing to cut costs by amalgamating two other services – the alternative curriculum and the reintegration service, into a single entity to become the alternative education provision service.

The proposed savings are in addition to earlier cuts to support for pupil referral units already agreed by West Berkshire Council in a budget approved by a Schools Forum meeting in March.

At that meeting, top-up funding for PRUs was reduced to help balance the books and the PRU outreach service was scrapped.

At the time council officers warned that any reduction would make it more difficult to provide the same level of staffing.

Defending the cuts, the executive member for education, Dominic Boeck, said: “Our proposal is to extend the delivery of our current service. At a high level, we would like to prioritise our resources where we can make the biggest difference to vulnerable pupils and students.

“This could mean a reduction in the current number of council-provided alternative provision sites from six to four and working in partnership with schools and building on their strengths and assets in order to ensure that all alternative curriculum students in West Berkshire receive a full education option.”

The consultation is live until Monday, October 17, with representations accepted on the West Berkshire Council website.

A final decision will be made at a meeting of the executive committee on January 19 and, if approved, change would be implemented from September 2017.

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on Newbury Weekly News

Characters left: 1000

Article comments

  • Ihavenonickname

    02/08/2016 - 16:04

    Well there we have it again. The Tories once again cutting support for the most vulnerable in society. These children are at grave risk of becoming the criminals of tomorrow if they don't receive expert intervention at PRU's! They have been excluded from schools because schools can't cope with them and lack the expertise to turn them around. I just can't believe how short sighted and blinkered our Council is to even consider cuthing this vital service!

    Reply

  • Junebear

    02/08/2016 - 10:10

    As a teacher and a parent this whole plan is ridiculous. Pupils are only excluded from schools as the last resort and if a very serious incident has occurred. Has the council given any consideration to the vast, vast majority of pupils in West Berks schools who will have their safety and learning compromised by these cuts? Perhaps the council should consider downsizing itself and save money that way, or sell off some of their buildings and offices in town?

    Reply

    • Ihavenonickname

      02/08/2016 - 16:04

      I fully agree. If not given appropriate expert intervention during exclusion these most vulnerable youngsters will become the criminals of tomorrow!

      Reply

  • grumpy

    02/08/2016 - 09:09

    Surely if they have been expelled from school it is because they have done something wrong ?? So, why waste time and resources on them ?

    Reply

    • jc129

      02/08/2016 - 16:04

      It's not the kids fault that they are badly behaved, it's the parents. If you want to stop kids from being badly behaved, you make sure they have a better life and bring up their children well in the future so that they aren't badly behaved. By neglecting poorly behaved children you are only creating a negative spiral. By supporting them, you create a positive one.

      Reply

    • Westberkswalker

      02/08/2016 - 10:10

      And what do you think will happen next? That expulsion will teach them a lesson and they won't get into any more trouble? Of course not. Without proper support they are highly likely to commit crime, become involved with drugs, etc costing the public even more because they have not received the guidance they need to become a valuable member of our society.

      Reply

      • grumpy

        02/08/2016 - 12:12

        oh, I give up . We are way too soft these days.

        Reply

        • Westberkswalker

          02/08/2016 - 13:01

          It's not a case of being soft on them, it's looking after ourselves. If these pupils go on to commit even more serious offences who do you think will suffer? Who will pay for the Police time involved? Who will pay to keep them in jail? Who will lose out because they are not in work and paying taxes. YOU!

          Reply

        • NewburyLad

          02/08/2016 - 23:11

          How many more 'even more serious offences' are you prepared to put up with though - where do you draw the line - with liberal lefties it's never apparently. (but keep on with the funding of the unruly criminal lot whilst we cut back on services others have worked and contributed to all their lives. Are you sure the L in your name isn't a N?

          Reply

        • jc129

          03/08/2016 - 12:12

          Are you sure the L in your name isn't a S?

          Reply

News

Victoria Park tennis court floodlights now in use
News

Victoria Park tennis court floodlights now in use

Play can now continue until 9.30pm at popular Newbury facility

 
West Berkshire Council hits back at social mobility report
News

West Berkshire Council hits back at social mobility report

Local authority says data "does not add up"

 
News

Protecting keyless cars from thieves

1comment

 
News

Suspected abuse at Newbury care home was not reported

 
News

Man hit in the face with BB pellet while inside a West Berkshire pub