The government has been urged to issue clear guidance on the
placing of children with special needs in pupil referral units
The influential Education and Skills Select Committee also
warned that current policies to reduce truancy have had little
impact on improving attendance.
Pupil referral units are being used for children with special
educational needs, against guidance from the Department for
Education and Skills, as a result of the drive towards inclusion in
mainstream schools, said the committee.
Three-quarters of PRUs contained pupils with statements, often
because they had become a placement of last resort. However, few
units have the staff, accommodation or resources to enable them to
meet fully the needs specified in the pupils’ statements.
“It is wholly unacceptable that units in this position are
not resourced to enable them to meet the needs of the pupils
assigned to them,” said the committee in a report published
“Clear guidance is needed on the placement of pupils with
special needs in PRUs and the appropriate resources for
The MPs also demanded that the government improve school
attendance figures. The truancy rate had not change last year
compared with 2000-01, with around 50,000 children still taking
unauthorised absences in England on an average day.
Attempts to prevent truancy have included increased police
patrols in town centres and “fast track” prosecutions
of parents, which has led to a number of high profile convictions
which have led to jail sentences.
The committee said: “That the strategies put into place to
address this issue have had relatively little impact on the level
of unauthorised absence is a matter of great concern.”
A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said: “Many of
the measures have only recently been introduced, so it will be a
little while before real progress can be measured.”
The report can be found at