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11 August, 2008

Citizenship Foundation backs a core curriculum for PRUs

The UK government's White Paper, 'Back on Track' is considering reforms to Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and other alternative provision. If we are serious about enabling Pupil Referral Units to re-integrate young people, there needs to be continuity between the curriculum of mainstream education and that of PRUs. A cohesive curriculum is vital for ensuring that the needs of all young people are met, wherever they are being educated. Moreover, there is a real danger that a merely ‘skills-based’ curriculum would be seen as a ‘sink’ curriculum, and would only further disengage young people from mainstream education.

The Government is asking whether there should be a prescribed, core curriculum for pupils in PRUs and alternative provision and, if so, what such a curriculum should entail.

Julie Nakhimoff, Team Leader of Active Learning at the Citizenship Foundation stated that: “To offer any education other than the National Curriculum to students in pupil referral units would lead to discontinuity across the different provisions. Withdrawing young people from the National Curriculum in this way could reinforce their existing disengagement from it.

“Many students in PRUs are bright individuals, who, due to personal circumstances or specific learning or behavioural difficulties, have fallen into alternative educational provision. It is important that we support these young people and their teachers.

“If taught properly, the content of the National Curriculum will develop a wide range of skills, and Citizenship education is a vital piece of this picture. Citizenship education encourages empathy and reflection. It enables pupils to express themselves more effectively, and teaches them how to resolve conflicts and disagreements without resorting to violence. It also broadens young people’s perspectives of the justice system, including the role of the police. These are all essential in helping to decrease exclusion and anti-social behaviour."

The Citizenship Foundation’s response to the ‘Back on Track’ white paper focuses specifically on the Citizenship education that we believe should be available to the pupils of PRUs.


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