From education to employment

Local authorities may be given sole responsibility for education in all custodial units for young pe

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, has announced plans to improve education for young people in custody.

The Youth Crime Action Plan, due to be published in spring 2008, will look at placing responsibility for all custodial education with local authorities.

Currently responsibility for the provision of custodial education is held by several different organisations, according to the institution. The Learning and Skills Council contract for FE and private providers to deliver education in Young Offender Institutions while in Secure Training Centres the operators contract with education providers. In Secure Children Homes, local authorities either provide education or contract it out to.

Speaking at the Youth Justice Board Convention Ed Balls said: “We will now consult on whether and how local authorities should lead on education and training for young people in custody.

“This would mean that for the first time, young offenders will be given the right level of education and training consistent with the experience of their peers outside the youth justice system.” The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools found that accreditation levels remain too low in many institutions and opportunities for more advanced courses are limited. In the same report the overall assessment of secure estate performance states that “teaching of the basic skills of literacy and numeracy is often poor”.


And the Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2006/07, while recognising that some improvement in education in secure settings has been made, reported that facilities for vocational training are often inadequate. This limits the opportunities for young people to develop useful workplace skills that will help them gain employment or go on to further education upon their release from custody.

Ed Balls said: “It’s clear that over the last ten years we have made huge progress in improving the curriculum, raising standards in schools and improving the quality of teaching.

“Giving local authorities responsibility would mean that all young offenders whether in custody or the community will receive high quality learning, consistent with what happens in schools and colleges across the country. Because high quality education and training will equip young people with the skills to succeed in the best way to break the cycle of offending, prevent reoffending and get young people back on the right track.”

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