Highest acclaim for Littlehampton referral centre

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THEY HAVE one of the toughest jobs in education, but staff at a “pioneering and innovative” Littlehampton pupil referral centre have been rated among the best of the best.

OFSTED inspectors have judged Links College, which has a base at The Flintstone Centre, in East Street, to be “outstanding”, the highest grade available, less than four years after the last report slammed it as “inadequate”.

Pupil referral units, or PRUs, are for secondary school age students who have been excluded from, or for other reasons are not in, mainstream education.

Julia Vincent, head of service for college, said: “Many of the students have struggled in mainstream school and need to be supported to channel their energies in a purposeful fashion.

“The college is very proud that its work has been fully recognised, and is now working on a departmental plan to ensure that it retains its status as an outstanding school.”

The report, which was published last week, heaped praise on the staff at the college, which has six centres in West Sussex, including Lancing and Worthing.

It said: “Observations of teaching confirmed that throughout the different centres, pupils make excellent progress regardless of their starting points because of the highly effective approach adopted by teachers.”

Inspectors noted the difficulties facing students and teachers at the college.

“On entry to the centres, the vast majority of pupils are disaffected with their education and have lost interest in their learning,” they said.

“This new, pioneering and innovative provision successfully re-engages them with learning and rebuilds their confidence and self-esteem, to the extent that the majority achieve well enough to return to mainstream schools or go on to study meaningful courses at colleges of further education. This is a remarkable achievement.”

It added students often joined the centres with below-average attainment, mainly down to low attendance at school, but this was soon turned around.

“Thanks to the immediate and very careful early assessments, all groups of pupils begin to achieve exceptionally well.

“The vast majority of pupils, by the time they are ready to re-integrate into mainstream schools, are responsible young adults who have developed good skills that will support them well in the world of work and college.”