Responding to Ofsted's report on safeguarding children and young people in education from knife crime, published today, Cllr Nickie Aiken, London Councils’ Executive member for Schools and Children’s Services, said:
“This report calls for more thought on the role of Pupil Referral Units, and that’s a review we urgently need. We are seeing a growing number of PRU pupils involved in the knife crime epidemic and therefore, we need a complete rethink of how our PRUs operate and work alongside our schools to support our young people.
“I’m concerned that secondary schools are increasingly sending difficult and damaged children to PRUs. The whole offer needs to be changed. We should think of pupil referral units as places of respite where children go for short periods, always with the aspiration that they return to the normal school system. It means an emphasis on literacy, speech and language, but also on dealing with often undiagnosed mental illness and trauma while they are the PRU to try and ensure a return of some kind might be possible.
“The other point we need to look at urgently is the social media pressure on our teens. I have seen videos in which Rap and Drill Music artists brag of taking a Rambo knife with them when they go out. This is a pernicious and sinister influence on our children, and the music industry can no longer look the other way while its artists pump these kinds of images onto social media platforms.