A ground-breaking online training programme has been launched to support those working with young people with special educational needs (SEN) who are in custody or at risk of offending.
Funded by the Department for Education (DfE), the programme is being delivered by national education charity Achievement for All (AfA), in partnership with the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).
It will provide free training and support to every professional in the Youth Justice System (YJS) to improve practice, reduce offending by young people and improve their educational and employment outcomes.
Marius Frank, Director at AfA, said:
We have developed a series of innovative modules which sit on a new online learning platform called the Youth Justice SEND Bubble. The modules have been written by frontline professionals for frontline professionals. There is nothing stronger than peer-to-peer learning. It captures the passion and commitment of dedicated professionals, shares existing best practice and develops consistency across the YJS in England.
Young people with a special educational need are five times more likely to enter the youth justice system, with 18 per cent of sentenced young people in custody having a statement of special educational needs. Additional research shows that up to 90 per cent of young offenders have below average speech, language and communication skills, with up to 67 per cent having language skills which are ‘poor or very poor’.
The majority of these young people have been excluded from school at some point and as a result, have never had their conditions properly diagnosed or addressed. Many of them also suffer family breakdown, trauma, abusive relationships or poverty.
Rather than be punished, these young people need to be helped, their needs identified and met, and their life chances transformed. Investing in effective early intervention work will also save considerable costs to communities and to government further down the line: it is a win-win-win solution.
The Youth Justice SEND Bubble will be launched at the Youth Justice Convention in Milton Keynes on 30 November 2016. The online modules are free to access and offer a comprehensive learning environment on legislation, practice and special education needs in the YJS. It is for staff in youth offending, secure estate, health and care, and local authority SEN teams.