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Not all young people are taught in schools. Alternative provision settings (sometimes referred to as ‘AP’ or ‘alternative settings’) are places that provide education for children who can’t go to a mainstream school and they include Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).

Pupil Referral Units and providers of AP are required to make provision for Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in the same way as mainstream schools – RSE guidance applies equally. The guidance is also clear that the needs and vulnerabilities of students should be considered when teaching these subjects. 

Pupil Referral Units (PRUs)

Children and young people are placed in PRUs because of short- or long-term illness, because they have been excluded from mainstream education, or if they are a new starter waiting for a school place. 

Many of the young people who attend PRUs will have experienced violence and abuse and/or caused harm to others. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant risk to all children and can cause complex trauma, anxiety and affect educational attainment. They are likely to have had a negative experience of education and might have additional mental health and support needs. 

There is also a significant racial disparity in school exclusions: 

  • Black Caribbean students are permanently excluded from school at three times the rate of white British students. 
  • Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children are permanently excluded at five times the rate of white British students.

Delivering Prevention work within these settings requires additional care, sensitivity and support – taking a trauma-informed approach (TIA) is essential. Taking a multi-agency approach to Prevention can support better outcomes for children and young people who have been excluded from mainstream education.