Bridgelea Primary School is a school for up to 96 pupils in Key Stages 1 and 2 who have either been permanently excluded from mainstream school or who are in danger of becoming so, because of social, emotional or mental health difficulties. It also offers places for children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Educational Health and Care Plan identifying social emotional and mental health difficulties. Support is also offered by the pupil referral unit staff to mainstream primary schools in order to help them to manage and improve the behaviour of individual pupils to reduce the likelihood of exclusion.
There are only small numbers of pupils in each year group. The majority are in year 5 and 6 (51%- 3% higher than previous year) with the next biggest group being in year 3 and 4 (30% – 5 % higher than previous year).
A very small minority (16%- up 6% from previous year) of pupils have other diagnosed learning difficulties such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The majority of pupils who attend are of White British origin (55%).This is broadly the same as other Pupil Referral Units nationally.The other groups that attend reflect the wide ethnic communities represented in Manchester. The vast majority of pupils who attend are boys (90% – up 14% on previous year). This is more like the national average for SEMH schools.
A much higher than average proportion of pupils are eligible for the pupil premium, which provides additional funding for pupils known to be eligible for free school meals (80% – up 8% on previous year) and those in the care of the local authority (5%).
Manchester City Council now commission 70 places with Bridgelea. 46 of these are for children with a statement or Education Health and Care Plan for Social and Emotional and Mental Health needs. In the last 3 years the the large majority of the children complete statutory assessment whilst at the school, mainly identifying social ,emotional and mental health difficulties. These children often remained at Bridgelea waiting for specialist school places to become available. In 2013 2014 it was agreed that the school would offer specialist places as the children’s named placement in their statement or care plan. This is the major reason for the expansion of the school in the last 4 years . In the last 12 months the school has also admitted children who have already completed their statutory assessment and require specialist placement . Very few children have arrived at Bridgelea through the City Council’s In Year Fair Access Protocol (4 children 3%), those that did had needs that were described as complex and a period of assessment was required. 24 places are commissioned for Day 6 offer for children after they have been permanently excluded from their mainstream school. The local authority also part fund 26 places for the school to work with schools in order to prevent exclusion.
A higher than average number of children are in the vulnerable group (45%). 5 children are Looked After, 5 are on a child protection plan 12 are at Child in Need and 16 are accessing support through an early help assessment. Early help is an increasing number of children due to targeting of resources in this area. The school is working closely with the city council’s Troubled Families Team who have placed 2 full time equivalent workers with the school to support the children at an early help level. This has meant in the last year that 19 children (21%) have stepped down from requiring additional support to universal support through the intervention of Early Help team.
During the summer of 2018 Bridgelea East (Gorton) and South (Wythenshawe) closed and the staff and children moved to Plymouth Grove in Longsight to an Edwardian building that has had an extensive refurbishment and designed with input from staff in order to support the children who need the school. As with any move made by the school in previous years, we are aware that the impact of change on the children is challenging and that whilst trying to think of every eventuality , until the children are in the building it is difficult to know how they will respond. A year of settling in is anticipated. The school is extremely close to the previous occupants who moved into a new build on the playground. This will also present many opportunities and challenges to the school.
The school is also currently exploring the possibility of becoming an Alternative Provision Academy and joining a Multi Academy Trust with Manchester’s Secondary Pupil Referral Unit.The working name of the MAT is the City of Manchester Learning Partnership. The proposal is based upon the intention to clearly define the capacity of the school with the local authority, to develop better outcomes for the children who arrive at Bridgelea in Y6, too late to complete statutory assessment but need a clearer pathway at Y7 , and to establish clearer working arrangements with the other agencies working with the children in the PRU.(Social Services /CAHMS). Orders to academise were granted in November 2017 and the management groups of both schools agreed to proceed to form a multi academy trust. The working date for conversion was September 2018 but significant issues regarding the accommodation for some of the Secondary PRU children and final agreement of the proposed funding of places has meant that the conversion date has been put back to January 2019.
OFSTED completed a Section 8 inspection of the school on the 17th April 2018 and found the school to remain good. The management group and staff were rightly proud of the findings of the inspection and description in the published report. The major areas to develop were the curriculum offer to the children, given that the school is now more SEMH special than a Pupil Referral Unit and the majority of the school improvement work in the next 12 months will be focused on this aspect of our work.