SOMERSET County Council has unveiled plans for a unit for around 100 children struggling at mainstream schools in Sedgemoor.

The council wants to build an Integrated Pupil Referral Unit on fields it owns off Bower Lane, Bridgwater, next to where the town’s new hospital is being built.

PRUs are short-stay schools with huge staffing resources for children who cannot cope with mainstream schools for a variety of reasons, ranging from behavioural difficulties to medical problems.

PRUs provide a safe environment for children to help get them back into mainstream school as soon as possible.

If the integrated PRU goes ahead, it would mean the closure of three smaller PRUs in Bridgwater, which together take 97 pupils.

The council has allocated £1.75million to build the centre, which could be funded by the sale of one of the PRUs, in Albert Street, and its share of the Northgate site in Bridgwater.

The council says Sedgemoor’s existing PRUs are no longer fit for purpose.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, cabinet member for children and families, told the Weekly News: “The advantage of having an integrated PRU is that children end up in a better, more purpose-built site.

“They will end up, I think, with much greater support. Even though they will be in one unit, they will still be working in very small groups.”

Cllr Nicholson said the new unit is still dependent on a cash settlement from central Govern-ment.