'Exciting times' as merger of four pupil referral unit schools is confirmed

Harbour PRU school in Lowestoft.

The Harbour PRU school in Lowestoft. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A merger of four pupil referral unit schools in North Suffolk has been confirmed. 

After a consultation was launched in November last year over the plans for Harbour Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), Old Warren House and First Base - all in Lowestoft - to unite with The Attic in Bungay and its Carlton Colville subsidiary, The Dragonfly, the planned merger into one school has been sealed. 

It was confirmed by the North Suffolk PRU Partnership, with the merger set to take effect from September 1, 2021.

A North Suffolk PRU Partnership spokesman said: "The merger of these important specialist provisions will mean that education and support will be managed by a single leadership team committed to delivering the best possible outcomes for children in need of an alternative approach to education."

The school will have a new name, which is yet to be decided, and will be governed by a new single management committee.

With Paul Morton, the current executive headteacher of First Base, Harbour and Old Warren House, due to retire at the end of August, Jo Lawrence, the current headteacher of The Attic, will be the new school's headteacher from September.

The teachers and support staff in the new school will be made up from the majority of current staff who currently work in the four schools.

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The spokesman added: "Initially, until 2023, the school will be based in two sites while construction of new accommodation is completed in Lowestoft to allow all pupils in the school to be on one site in the future.

"From September, primary age children will be based in the current Harbour site in Lowestoft, with secondary age pupils based in the present Attic Hillside site in Bungay.

"First Base and Old Warren House school sites will not be used as they are at present. The Dragonfly Unit in Carlton Colville will remain part of the single school under Jo Lawrence."

The new school headteacher Mrs Lawrence said it was "a time of exciting change for the pupils and staff" that will lead to "enhanced, stronger school provision" for the pupils who attend the PRU in the future.

She added: “I am excited and feel privileged to begin the next steps in developing a PRU offer for all students in North Suffolk that is equitable and consistent."