When I refer to the world of PRUs and APs, I include in this Hospital Education & Homes tuition services. In some areas these 2 provisions are included in the local PRUs and APs service but not in others.
One of the main issues that PRUs and APs face is the recruitment of appropriate staff and there are a number of reasons for this. One aspect is how PRUs & APs are viewed locally and nationally. This can then have a knock-on effect with the quantity of staff that actively seek out a teaching job in a PRU and/or AP. This could be because PRUs & APs are vastly misrepresented in the media with people thinking they are full of children swearing and daily fights, for example. The reality is most places are calm and wonderful places to work.
Also, historically, PRUs have had a reputation of being a “teachers’ graveyard”; the place where teachers go to retire, perhaps because there is less marking and reporting. Despite this being the case, what isn’t considered is the offset with the stressful environment and learning how to teach in a completely different way. For example, a PRU teacher will deliver 5 individual lessons to a class of 5 students.
There does seems to be a lack of knowledge and understanding of the world of PRUs and APs, whether it be within the teaching world or nationally. It also seems that often NQTs don’t learn anything about this sector of education in their training. Again, this can then have a knock-on effect with how they are perceived by mainstream teachers.
We have to acknowledge that in education as a whole there is a recruitment crisis, but this is felt even more so in the world of PRUs and APs. In many cases unqualified staff are employed and do a very good job, but most PRUs have to get really creative with their curriculum to accommodate the variety of children and the subsequent recruitment issues.
We do need to raise the profile of PRUs & APs. Some of the following things could be considered…
- PRUs and APs to be an integral part of the teacher training process
- Teachers to be encouraged to take INSET days to visit PRUs and APs
- More networking between PRUs and APs
- Present more professionally and on a national level
- Greater online presence – TES, Guardian and Blogs