Learning Support Unit

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An integral part of a school's approach to supporting pupils who have become disengaged, and who have challenging behaviour. LSUs provide individual support programmes which may include one‐to‐one or small‐group teaching for pupils identified as having emotional and social difficulties. Ideally pupils will follow their usual curriculum programmes of study within the support unit. Some pupils may need a support package to be put in place which enables them to carry on studying while they address their behaviour issues. Though the support is carried out away from mainstream lessons, best practice exists where all staff are aware of the ethos of the LSU and work in partnership with support staff to reintegrate pupils as quickly as possible. Some LSUs are not on the same site as the school. It is preferable that a unit is part of a school's inclusion faculty.

Pupils who are typically supported in an LSU will be those who find it difficult to accept sanctions and who challenge authority. They may be aggressive or possess poor social communication skills. Difficult family circumstances resulting in low self‐esteem and poor confidence levels are common among pupils supported in LSUs. Such pupils are quite often victims of bullying or other forms of abuse and have very poor attendance levels. LSUs are often a ‘safe haven’ where pupil can rebuild their confidence. There should be clear exit and entry criteria and procedures for referrals to LSUs. The units must not be seen as ‘sin bins’ or ‘dumping grounds’ for disruptive pupils. Support in LSUs should be short‐term and planned. The work of LSU staff will be closely linked with parents and carers and with professionals from other agencies, particularly with social care workers and behaviour support services. Child and adolescent mental health workers are often involved with pupils in LSUs.

T. B.

Trisha Bowen,


Liz Ellis

Subjects: Education.

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