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Pupil referral units

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by Owen1506, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. Owen1506

    Owen1506 New commenter


    Hope I've posted this in the right place - just wondered if there are any teachers out there in secondary pupil referral units?

    I'm an NQT just about to start teaching Mathematics in one up until Xmas.

    I've only ever seen one before and it seemed completely different to a normal secondary school (obviously), so if anyone has any advice/suggestions about anything at all related for the coming weeks, it would be hugely appreciated.
  2. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I have not worked in one but have worked alongside senior staff in a similar setting for a short period of time on their assessment schedule and deployment of additional adults. They obviously can be very challenging environments ( even for the more experienced practitioner ) but if you are very well supported, have access to training / decent resources and have some relatively effective mechanisms re classroom management / code of conduct then there is no reason why you cannot be successful. Important I think to remember that these students for a number of reasons have rejected the constraints of a traditional' curriculum and may be adopting the WIIFM ( what's in it for me ? ) approach. Relationships are key and the atmosphere more conducive to a less formal teaching and learning environment but remember you are not their ' mate '. A steep learning curve I suspect - Good Luck.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    HI Owen1506

    I have experience of working as a supply teacher in a pupil referral unit that caters for KS2 and KS3 students. In addition I have also worked in KS4 in another PRU on supply.

    Before working on one I had ZERO experience of anything remotely like it apart from working in challenging mainstream schools which might have helped, but the one characteristic that I think the SLT saw in me was kindness an I got asked back many times. Of course you are not their mate, but keep in the forefront of your mind that some of the student there have incredibly difficult home lives ( not all do) and some will have learning difficulties as well. Some will be incredibly talented, but haven't managed for one reason or the other to stay in mainstream.

    Planning will be key....have a variety of activities for the students to do. Be as prepared as you possibly can with work sheets, games on interactive whiteboards, a variety of maths activities. Make it all as interesting as you possibly can. You can't wing it...you have to have enough activities that grab their attention.

    Give plenty of praise where it is earned.

    Follow the school's behaviour policy and observe the experienced teachers: how do they speak to the students? How do they handle certain situations? It will make you develop your own self control when dealing with confrontational students. Stay firm and speak calmly.

    Be aware of what is going on around you at all times and don't take anything personally since much of the behaviour will be attention seeking and due to other things out of your control. The language may be bad and there may be disruption between the students.
    Fleegal likes this.
  4. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    I worked for a term in a PRU and it was one of my favourite placements but as you have recognised its completely different from a mainstream school.

    You must be flexible (very flexible) since things change very quickly and a planned lesson just might not work that day. Have plenty of alternatives up your sleeve and don't be afraid to do something completely unconnected to the lesson if its going to help get their interest. (I liked that bit)

    Also bear in mind that some of your students might not have been referrred there for behaviour issues. You might get students with Autism, Dyslexia and so on, so swot up on all SEN matters.

    You will have small classes and always have at least one TA. Many of the students you will have will be no worse (in behaviour matters) then some in mainstream schools and you will have more help to deal with them.

    Avoid confrontation since often the student will not back down, but at the same time don't let them get away with things they shouldn't. They will know what is expected and respect you more if you insist on this. This can be a tricky balancing act and a sense of humour essential.

    It will be an experience and you will learn so much. It takes a certain type of character to work in a PRU but if you are that type you will thrive (and have plenty of laughs).
    Fleegal likes this.
  5. greengirl57

    greengirl57 New commenter

    i worked in a PRU. I am a mature teacher on a second career, so I have started late - but better late than never. However, I have encountered discrimination by schools not offering me the chance to begin and complete my NQT which I must do. However, in all of this fracas, I found work in a PRU. As a mature candidate, I think I was suited to the role but had to back down a few times when pupils wouldnt budge. We had 'pod leaders' for each of the pods I was teaching - maximum of 5-6 in a class. Some of them would run out in the middle of the lesson when they saw one of their friends walk into the school - late! I am not sure how the management cope with all of this, but I believe this unit was part of a larger body of units, so if one pupil made trouble here, they would get sent to another of the units and the circle went round. I had my time in a PRU - I wouldnt work in one again. Toward the end of last term, one of the boys on his lunch time break, came back bleeding as he had been slashed with a knife across his hand. We had the police there questioning him. Somehow, as a teacher, this is just not my cup of tea! Good luck to those who venture forth though, someone has to do it?
  6. Owen1506

    Owen1506 New commenter

    Thank you all for the advice and for sharing your experiences!

    I've just finished the first week - I have to say, this school is very well run and I'm enjoying my time here so far, the staff are incredibly supportive and it's actually quite nice being able to get to know the students personally, something much more difficult in mainstream. It's enabled me to really focus on what makes each pupil engage and learn.

    Not to say it hasn't had it's challenges already but every problem I've had, a member of staff has been able to help.

    Also, when things have gone right it's been incredibly rewarding!

    I'll keep your experiences and advice in mind heading into next week.
  7. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    I've worked in a very similar setting for several years now and it is by far the best thing I have done in teaching.

    Pretty much everything that makes teaching unpleasant these days is absent.

    It's not for most teachers - but if you have the character that suits it, you will love it.
    Fleegal likes this.
  8. Owen1506

    Owen1506 New commenter

    Thanks Scintillant - sounds encouraging!

    There does seem to be a more relaxed outlook to learning, which can be good and bad - but especially as a maths teacher it hits home how irrelevant the stuff I try to teach them is when they may have a million and one things going on at home.
    Fleegal likes this.

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