The Pupil Referral Unit That Changed My Life


Pupil referral units (PRU) 

Right from the start of year 8 at mainstream school I started misbehaving and losing my temper very easily.

I still don’t really know why I did. From the start of year 9, my school told me that if I did not go on an anger-management course I would probably not last at the school, as I would be expelled if it carried on.'



Darren's story


Angry adolescence


Deep down I wanted to sort my problems out so I agreed to attend an anger-management course. Twelve weeks later and it was over. I thought that this was the end of me misbehaving. It was, for about a year, then I started again. This time, my school had enough of me and they wanted me out.


Out but not expelled

My headteacher did not want to expel me so instead he applied for me to go to Millbrook Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). I went for an interview, then, as I had been accepted, I met the headteacher and also the teacher who would be teaching me during the next year. They were great and treated me like an adult, unlike my last school. I told myself that it would be different here (in a good way) and I would probably change for the best.

When September came I couldn't wait to start afresh. In my first week we were told what was planned: two and a half days in class; one day work experience, and one day at college. I thought: wow, I am going to really like this.



There were six pupils in a class and our teacher plus a teacher’s help.

They were the best teachers anybody could have.

I think they understood how we felt as they both had teenage sons. We all got on like a family. It was so different to my mainstream school because the teachers there didn't care if you did bad in your exams or anything like that. Because our new teachers treated us like adults, I think we started to behave like them. We had no reason to misbehave now. They rewarded good behaviour all week with a Friday afternoon at the local snooker hall or bowling alley. Not once did anybody miss this, it showed we could behave all week, every week.


A problem shared

If we had any problems even if it was problems at home then you could talk to one of the teachers – they listened, understood and helped in any way.

At mainstream I would never ever have talked to one of the teachers if I had a problem as I would have felt embarrassed, but at Millbrook it was like they were family and you could open up to them.

They were there any time for you – whenever you needed them they were there. I started working to my ability again. I was pleased. My favourite subject was maths. I was good, wanted to improve even more. My teacher, who also loved maths, showed me how to improve and taught me new stuff, stuff I didn't already know. I started to enjoy school more and loved going there every day. I don’t think that I ever had a day off because I enjoyed it so much.


Enjoying the experience

So from going from hating school and hating doing my work I went to loving it. I think it helped others, as there was no one to show off to, which I think is the main reason why kids misbehave. It’s like me, we were showing off in front of the lasses, trying to impress them, but in my new group it was five lads, there was no one to show off to. Everyone just got on with the work and they behaved like adults. I think a good PRU must treat all pupils the same, and reward good behaviour with treats such as days out which our class did.

My fave was the motorbike scheme in Hull. We went every end of term, for the day. Every teenage lad loves motor bikes so I think that was a good way of rewarding us.

Parents often think the worst when they hear about a PRU, but it’s just a school where your children will learn to behave properly and to start to work to their ability, which is something all parents want for their children and it helps prevent you from getting expelled for good, which won’t help you in the future when you want a good job or to be on a good course at college.


Getting qualified

At Millbrook they didn't sit GCSEs so we worked towards key skills. When I first started I was aiming at key skills level 1, but come the end of the year I had gained key skills leveI 2 in maths, IT and communications. These were the only subjects we did. I also got an OCR in science (silver award). My teacher knew for sure that if he could get me entered for science and maths GCSE at my old school then I would pass them too. I was allowed to enter them even though I had not done any coursework because I’d been at Millbrook.

When my results came through, I passed them, I got a D in maths and an E in science. I was so happy, I would never have achieved this if I had not gone to Millbrook PRU. I owe them everything.

My teacher at Millbrook even taught me how to play the guitar, something which I’d always wanted to do. Even though every pupil there had some kind of behaviour problem I can’t really remember one occasion where anybody kicked off. It was as if nobody had a problem and I believe that if they had gone back to mainstream school they would be different for sure and would end up in trouble. Our class was the leavers’ group and we knew that by the end of the year our school life would be over and we would be in the big open world. I think we all changed for the best.


Life after the PRU

From leaving the PRU I went on a course at my local college. As I found a job I dropped out of college, but it didn't turn out right and I found myself on a YTS scheme, learning car valeting. I got an NVQ in that. Then I got a job back with my previous employer, but at a different company, doing ground works. I have slowly worked my way up the wage ladder from earning £80 a week to earning £500 a week. Which is a big difference.

If I had not gone to Millbrook then I was going to end up getting expelled with no qualifications and no belief in myself and my abilities, If I hadn't grown up when I did then who knows where I would be now.

If all schools treated kids like adults then there wouldn't be a problem half the time. Thank you Millbrook PRU; you have made me who I am today.


Milbrook PRU has since closed.


Further reading

Does My Child Have Special Needs?

Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)

Dyspraxia Introduction - more than just a clumsy child?

Dysgraphia - Difficulty Writing

Neuro Diversity - Thinking Differently

Problems Associated With Dyspraxia - how to spot and help the child with dyspraxia

Behavioural Disorders ADD / ADHD



The Occupational Therapist

The Dyslexia Counsellor

The Orthoptist

The Speech And Language Therapist (SALT)


Schools and schooling

Hidden Disabilities Uncovered

Helping The Dyspraxic Child - coping strategies, skills, school and parental advice

Getting An Educational Psychology Assessment

The SEN Governor

The Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo)

Teaching Assistants

SEN In The Classroom

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