Juvenile prisoners voice fears for their education

Teenage prisoners are not receiving a decent education because
of cancelled lessons and a lack of teachers, according to prison

A survey of 15-year-old boys in Prison Service-run juvenile
units has found that many are frustrated at the lack of education
opportunities and are worried about their future prospects.

“Too little attention is paid to the educational needs of
children in prison yet educational achievement is a crucial factor
in successful rehabilitation,” said Frances Crook, director of the
Howard League, which carried out the survey.

More than 300 school age boys currently held in the units should
receive at least 15 hours of classes and 15 hours of educational
activity each week.

But following visits to all 13 juvenile units the Howard League
reported this week that many of the 15-year-olds studying for GCSE
examinations reported regular disruption to classes.

Although units claim to be committed to education the boys said
that lessons are frequently cancelled because of security concerns,
or they were delayed because inmates not taken to classrooms on
time, said the report.

A shortage of teachers means there is rarely cover available for
absences and there is no extra funding for boys with statements of
special educational needs to recruit specialist staff.

Nearly a third of the boys interviewed were able to take GCSE or
GNVQ examinations but the units do not receive school reports, test
results or reports from educational psychologists or education
social workers which would help plan for their needs.

The League found examples of good practice in several units. For
example, the Stoke Heath unit in Shropshire has a learning support
centre for boys with special educational needs that offers
one-to-one sessions with teachers.

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