Pupils feel ‘highly valued’ at Cardiff education centre

A report on standards at the Bryn Y Deryn Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in Cardiff has found that staff have created a “calm and nurturing learning environment” where pupils feel “highly valued”.

The report, by Estyn – the Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales – makes a number of positive findings about the PRU, which provides academic, vocational and personal development lessons for 74 pupils aged between 14 and 18.

All the pupils have additional learning needs but the report’s summary said the staff knew their needs “extremely well” and were skilled at supporting them to make progress, academically, socially and emotionally. “As a result, many pupils make strong progress when they join the PRU,” it said.

Among the activities and subjects offered to pupils at Bryn y Deryn are art and design, computer studies, cookery, emotional literacy, relationship building and substance misuse training while qualifications and awards on offer include Entry Levels, BTECs, Level 1 and 2 Awards, GCSE amd AS Levels, BTEC vocational studies, a Sports Leadership award and participation in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.

“Pupils experience a wide range of opportunities at the PRU,” said the report, “and these experiences allow pupils to gain qualifications which effectively support their next steps well.”

Other positives outlined in the report include:

  • Many pupils listen attentively to staff and to their peers and follow instructions confidently
  • Many develop appropriate reading skills and develop their independent writing skills progressively
  • Their creative skills are a notable strength and the artwork produced by a few pupils is of “exceptional quality”, reflected in their GCSE results. “Their artwork is proudly displayed across the buildings of the PRU,” said the report

The PRU’s approach to well-being among pupils was also praised as “exemplary”. It added: “Behaviour is of a very high standard... with incidents of bullying being a rare occurrence. Many pupils improve their behaviour, confidence and resilience as a direct consequence of the pastoral support and specialist interventions.”

Due to the pandemic, attendance rates at the school between 2020 and 2022 do not form part of Estyn’s report although the PRU’s interventions on pupils who are persistently absent are having “little impact”. In addition, said the report, “the recording of attendance is not always accurate.” The report also acknowledged that school leaders have recognised the need to improve all pupils’ Welsh second language skills.

Estyn praised the commitment and dedication of the PRU head who “values staff well-being.” The impact of this, it said, is evident in the high levels of trust between staff and pupils.

There is also a good working relationship between the PRU and Cardiff Council, particularly through the provision for Year 12 pupils. Originally planned as a short-term measure, the PRU has now secured longer-term funding for this to continue.

Cllr Sarah Merry, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said she was delighted at the positive comments made by Estyn in the report. “Bryn y Deryn should be rightly proud of the inspection,” she said. “The provision of additional learning needs education is very challenging but the staff, led by the head, do a wonderful job and have created a safe and positive learning environment.

“I was particularly pleased to see that nearly all pupils achieve a range of accreditation in areas that reflect their abilities and interest and that many leaving Key Stage 4 progressed into education, training or employment.”

Fiona Simpson, the head of the PRU, said: “Learners, staff, parents/carers and the management committee of Bryn y Deryn and the Carnegie Centre Pupil Referral Unit are extremely pleased with this positive report. It was a challenging experience at the end of a difficult couple of Covid years but clearly demonstrates the dedication of staff and the superb ethos and culture of the school exemplified by the learners.

“We believe that we are the first school to have an Estyn report directly mentioning our excellent support for learners’ LGBTQ+ background and we are very proud of this.

“Bryn y Deryn and the Carnegie centre have been approached to create a case study for Estyn based around the excellent, embedded trauma-informed systems and the impact they have had on the school and learners.”

To read the full Estyn report, follow this link: