Secure Schools – One Piece of the Puzzle
The Campus Educational Trust (CET) notes the announcement that Medway Secure Training Centre will be the site of the first Secure School.
The CET and its predecessor body, Secure Foundation, has advocated for education to be at heart of Youth Justice for more than a decade and is pleased to have played a role in shifting the debate.
However, the Trust continues to make the case for a holistic approach that includes community provision for the purpose of ensuring a robust education pathway.
The Trust and its predecessor body, Secure Foundation, have argued for over a decade that education had to be an integral part of any effective youth justice system in a number of reports produced during the intervening period. Specifically;
- Young Offenders in East London – A New Approach (published June 2008)
- Young Offenders – A Secure Foundation (published July 2009)
- Secure Foundation – Towards a Pathfinder (published January 2011)
- A Proposition for a Haringey Campus (published October 2012)
Details of the Campus proposal are found on the CET website. This proposal was approved by the Department for Education in March 2015 to undertake the pre-opening work under Free School legislation.
These reports proposed a locally based facility that would integrate high quality education, training, accommodation and other services with a secure element and offer the courts an alternative to existing Young Offenders Institutions.
The Trust is pleased that many of the design principles can be found in the Governments proposal for Secure Schools. David Chesterton, Vice-Chair of the Trust and the former Chair of the Secure Foundation Advisory Group commented:
‘The Secure school proposal represents a significant milestone in the debate around youth justice and how the system can best meet the needs of those young people who get into trouble and in doing so reduce the unacceptably high re-offending rate for those convicted. We are pleased that many of the principles we proposed a decade ago have been taken up in this work and will continue to play a role in translating this ambition into reality’.
However, whilst the Trust will continue to work with Government and potential providers in making Secure Schools work we do feel that the exclusive focus of the Secure Schools programme on custody makes it less likely that the Government will realise its ultimate ambition of improving educational outcomes and reductions in re-offending.
Any services in custody has to be to be well integrated with community provision. This will be true of education but also other support services these young people will need if we are to succeed in helping them to turn their lives around. This has to be more than signposting and include developing step-down care that manages the transition from custody to community.
The Trust believes that any education provision in custody, including Secure Schools, has to be seen as part of an overall education pathway. Continuity of provision and effective handover to and from custodial educators will be essential in supporting and maintaining any progress made.
Andrew Morley, Chair of the Campus Educational Trust said:
‘The CET will continue to engage with any party who shares its commitment to realising a youth justice system that makes our communities safer by delivering better life chances for those young people in contact with the justice system, and so reduce reoffending.
We continue to share our experience and expertise with Government and as part of this continue to make the case for an ecosystem that includes specialist community provision that can deliver the educational and broader support elements of any rehabilitation programme outside of custody.
Despite being disappointed by the Department for Education’s decision in 2017 to withdraw its support for establishing the Campus as a Free School, we are in discussion with a range of partners in delivering this through a different route and so provide an opportunity to prove the value of such provision.’
Acting Executive Director