Concern over future provision for children and loss of jobs at Hoxton pupil referral unit

New Regent's College Upper School

New Regent's College Upper School - Credit: Archant

A school for vulnerable children is set to close after the building was deemed to be “unfit for purpose” – sparking concerns over the future of pupils and staff.

Hackney Learning Trust is to close pupil referral unit New Regent’s College Upper School in Nile Street, Hoxton, but has pledged to rebuild it on the same site to incorporate the lower school which is in Tiger Way, Clapton.

No timescale has been given and in the meantime up to 19 members of staff – including teachers – could lose their jobs in the move, and pupils will be relocated to different providers.

Hackney Teachers’ Association (HTA) secretary Sandra Hall said: “HTA is concerned over the cuts which will affect potentially the most vulnerable students in the borough.

“Pupil referral units are under-valued – they are the last chance for children and young people who need intensive personalised support and a multi-agency approach.

“Teachers in pupil referral units start from individual needs of the child, and recognise pupils’ social and emotional development is at the heart of effective learning.

“We want assurances that there will be no cuts in the provision to these students, and if they are reallocated, we would expect a substantial increase in funding to their alternative providers.

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“As far as we are aware there is no system in place.

“Hackney Learning Trust’s cut in the provision and the loss of teaching posts is unacceptable and HTA will campaign against it.”

The upper college is home to about 25 pupils, aged between 11 and 16, who are excluded or do not fit in at mainstream schools.

About half of these will have completed GCSEs by the time the unit is closed, leaving 13 learners to be relocated.

Consultation with 19 staff members whose jobs are at risk was due to end on Friday. A Hackney Council spokesman said changes would be achieved through voluntary redundancy, redeployment or transfers.

Tricia Okoruwa, education director at Hackney Learning Trust, said: “We are committed to maintaining high-quality future provision to meet the needs of some of Hackney’s most vulnerable pupils, and the learning provision and building at the Nile Street site are simply not fit for purpose.

“At this stage, much of the upper school provision is commissioned out to other providers, so there will be little disruption to pupils.

“The lower school site will remain open while the Nile Street site is rebuilt as a dual site for the upper and lower school.”

Headteacher Richard Brown said: “Most of the learning for the older pupils happens off-site.

“A large amount is commissioned out to private providers. We are commissioning out learning for all of the year 10 and year 11 pupils.”