Fewer than half of head teachers and only a quarter of classroom
teachers believe mainstream schools are a suitable option for young
offenders returning from custody, new research has revealed.
The study by Nottingham Trent University finds that 80 per cent of
head teachers are not even aware of agreements between local
education authorities and youth offending teams (Yots) to provide
The views of mainstream school workers contrast strongly with those
of further education colleges, with nearly two-thirds of further
education managers saying they can offer suitable provision.
Martin Stephenson, the university’s director for social inclusion
strategy, told the annual Youth Justice Board conference last week
that further education colleges “welcomed” more extensive
involvement with Yots.
The study finds that the colleges are more likely to be receptive
to young offenders as they do not have the same “pressures” as
mainstream schools. Volunteers from local communities can be
enlisted to assist with literacy and numeracy training.
The findings also reveal that, although 60 per cent of magistrates
believe access to participation in education, training and
employment are factors in sentencing young offenders, their
knowledge about provision is inadequate.
The study was unveiled after home secretary David Blunkett told the
conference the education system was “not being used effectively
enough” to engage young offenders.
In response, Graham Robb, YJB consultant to the Department for
Education and Skills, said many school heads believed there was
already too much effort in supporting “naughty” children.
He cited “continuing tension” between targets to raise attainment
and the wider community engagement agenda as key reasons why the
inclusion strategy was failing.