Lord Warner criticises government’s ban on young offenders at school

The chairperson of the Youth Justice Board has criticised
government guidelines that force head teachers to remove young
people who are in prison for short periods from their school

Speaking at a YJB conference on the role of learning in reducing
youth offending last week, Lord Warner warned that young offenders
were at risk of ending up in “educational ghettos” unless they were
incorporated into mainstream education.

Warner said the YJB believed that young people should not be taken
away from their “community base” unless they had committed a
serious offence because it was so difficult to get them back into

The Department for Education and Skills guidelines go directly
against this, making head teachers strike off their school rolls
young people who are in custody for four weeks or more.

Warner said that the striking-off policy illustrated why intensive
surveillance and supervision programmes, in which young offenders
receive education in their school while serving a community
penalty, had been more successful than detention and training
orders, in which offenders spent half their time in prison.

For those being imprisoned, the YJB has launched an investment
programme to improve education in custody, with the aim of doubling
the time offenders spend in education, training and personal
development to 30 hours per week.

In addition, youth offending teams and the government’s Connexions
programme are working towards a joint target that 90 per cent of
young offenders under supervision are in education, training or
employment by March 2004.

The DfES has not so far commented on Warner’s criticisms.

Also at the London conference minister for adult learning and
skills Ivan Lewis announced that the government will this summer
repeat last year’s Splash initiative – a national network of
activity programmes for young people in high crime areas.

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