Within the Education Sector Pupil Referral Units have been described as the “Cinderella service” and it is sometimes the case that they are at risk of being cut off from information networks that support innovation and development. PRU staff work with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people in society. The depth and diversity of need among the pupil cohort in PRUs results in a challenging educational environment arising from an often very poor experience of mainstream education. Behavioural difficulties, bullying and anxiety are often identified as the main problems contributing to some children and young people being unable to cope with mainstream school.
It was in January 2015 that Sycol commenced a programme specifically designed for the PRU at Ysgol Plas Cefndy in Denbighshire. Sycol sought to address specific issues raised by the school. By supporting and encouraging all staff members to form their own vision and mission the school was able to develop a programme of continuous improvement, as described by Head Teacher Nicola Roberts:
“Since following the process, there is a greater sense of purpose and togetherness across the school.”
This process entailed staff working together who may not have had the opportunity to do so previously, thereby increasing collaborative working and collective responsibility:
“…having teams of people come together to deliver the innovation areas has been a real bonus… forming stronger professional relationships”
Staff undertook extensive research into models of similar units close to home and further afield. Agreements were subsequently reached on priorities for continuing improvement and development. One of a number of examples of this has been the transformation of the physical environment of the school, resulting in a greater level of safety, security and comfort for both staff and pupils alike.
“The physical environment of the school has improved beyond recognition.”
Other improvements have arisen from Sycol supporting and encouraging Ysgol Plas Cefndy staff in their pursuit of consistent and enduring good practice in all aspects of their professional performance. The resulting evidence is a stronger engagement, growing morale and an increased sense of shared participation in the development and day- to- day running of the unit.
The result of Sycol’s work at Ysgol Plas Cefndy can best be summed up by Head Teacher Nicola Roberts:
“They (Sycol) really took the time to get to know us and understand how we tick! I cannot speak highly enough of the Sycol programme – it has set us on a clear path of continuous development and improvement.”
Sycol believes that this model can be equally successful in similar settings. Such input can prove invaluable to teams seeking to identify their own vision, mission and collective core values and principles. The Sycol approach helps build, embed and sustain an aspirational culture not only fit for purpose but which also enhances learning and impacts learning outcomes. This is an engaging programme which seeks to fulfil potential and achievement by applying proven methods which are vibrant, inspiring and adaptable to specific need.