The Department for Education (DfE) today announced that the Campus Educational Trust (CET) had been successful in its application to open a Free School in Haringey.

The ‘Campus’ is an innovative concept that intends to help young people who have had contact with the Criminal Justice system by providing them the space and support they need to achieve progress in their learning and so help them stay out of trouble and not re-offend.

This concept will be operationalised in the form of a school under the name of the ‘Campus’, established under the Free School arrangements but operated in close cooperation with the local authority (who will commission the places), voluntary sector and criminal justice partners.

The School will operate on an extended hours basis and will have a relentless focus on educational attainment whilst at the same time providing help and support to overcome any issues that might get in the way of the young person realising their educational potential.

Attendance at the ‘Campus’ will be a condition of bail, a community sentence or supervision in the community after custody with strong sanctions attached for non-attendance. The school will have strong ethos of excellence and will provide a rigorous and challenging curriculum. It will not be an easy option but success here will provide the young person with the skills and qualifications they need to achieve and excel.

Commenting on the DfE decision David Chesterton JP, Member of the CET and Chair of a High Level Advisory Group on whose work the Campus proposal builds said:

“Courts and others involved with young offenders often feel frustrated at high levels of re-offending and at the obvious need for a more enlightened approach to youth justice. I welcome the DfE announcement which follows six years of work making the case for education focused provision for young offenders, and provides us an opportunity to re-model existing provision in such a way that is more likely to reduce re-offending.”

Andrew Morley, Member of the CET and author of the report that recommended the Campus concept said:

“The DfE decision today provides for a new approach for young people who offend that recognises the role education can play in keeping them out of trouble. Re-offending rates for young offenders remain stubbornly high. However figures alone cannot convey the harm and human tragedy underneath these figures. Victims and communities are impacted directly, and whilst there is no excuse for committing crime we do know that a number of challenging factors in a young person’s life that make re-offending more likely. Any realistic plan to reduce re-offending and make our communities safer has to address these factors. The Campus will work to do just that.”

Graham Robb, Member of CET and the Chair of the Development Group responsible for developing the bid said:

“This has been the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people all of whom share an ambition to improve the life chances of young people often left behind by the system. Whilst delighted with the DfE decision there is still much to be done to build on the partnership and ambition behind the Campus. A guiding principle in this work is the recognition of the importance of the confidence of the communities we intend to serve and the support of the statutory and voluntary partners operating in this space. Today we celebrate but tomorrow we continue preparing to open the Campus and so give young people better life chances; the young people, their families and the community will all see the benefit. .”

The Trust will be making no further comment at this time.