- Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents


Memorandum submitted by the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales

INTRODUCTION

  The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) welcomes this inquiry and the opportunity to submit written evidence. We would be pleased to provide any further information that may be of assistance.

ROLE OF THE YJB

  The role of the YJB is to oversee the youth justice system in England and Wales. It works to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18, and to ensure that custody for them is safe, secure, and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour. The statutory responsibilities of the YJB include:

    — advising Ministers on the operation of, and standards for, the youth justice system;

    — monitoring the performance of the youth justice system;

    — purchasing places for, and placing, children and young people remanded or sentenced to custody;

    — identifying and promoting effective practice;

    — making grants to local authorities and other bodies to support the development of effective practice; and

    — commissioning research and publishing information.

  While the YJB is responsible for overseeing the performance of youth justice services including multi-agency YOTs and secure estate providers it does not directly manage any of the services.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  1.  The YJB supports greater integration of schools into wider children's services and the proposals in the 21st Century Schools agenda to develop a new accountability framework for education providers. We support measures to hold schools and other education providers more accountable for wider inclusion indicators and would welcome this incorporating public concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour.

2.  The YJB supports the drive to encourage greater collective responsibility for school exclusion decisions as a positive step towards ensuring schools support work to take the wider needs of children and young people into account. Proposals to develop the current education system to create an environment of good behaviour are welcome and the YJB would support the greater use of restorative justice measures in schools.

  3.  The YJB welcomes the recognition that schools can play a central role in early intervention and targeted support for children and young people. The YJB supports schools working in partnership to ensure a holistic approach is taken towards addressing needs and the principle of a national framework for early intervention.

  4.  The drive to improve alternative education provision, in part through involving schools more fully in the local authority accountability structure, is welcome.

  5.  The YJB welcomes the inclusion of wider "wellbeing" indicators in the new accountability measures, and specifically in the proposed School Report Card. We support greater partnership working to ensure the needs of children and young people are being met.

INTEGRATING SCHOOLS INTO WIDER CHILDREN'S SERVICES

  6.  The YJB supports the Government's drive to achieve greater integration of schools into wider children's services. Schools can play wide roles in local communities and have a positive impact on a range of childhood and family issues. This includes inclusion factors such as wellbeing, health and safety and the YJB welcomes recent measures to hold schools and other education providers more accountable for these outcomes. For schools to effectively fulfil this role the YJB believes they will need to work in partnership with Children's Trusts, Community Safety Partnerships and other local agencies.

7.  The YJB welcomes the measures in the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) 21st Century Schools agenda to develop a new accountability framework for education providers. We acknowledge and support references to the need for an education system which manages "risks". Within a youth justice perspective "risks" can be interpreted as issues around personal safety, avoidance of victimisation and bullying and risk of anti-social behaviour or offending. The YJB would welcome the incorporation of public concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour within the duties on schools to address wider inclusion indicators and recognition of the vital role that schools can play in helping to reduce risks and anxieties.

  8.  The YJB supports the Government's drive, as set out in the Back on Track White Paper, to reduce the number of permanent exclusions from schools and the steps that schools will be expected to take to manage behaviour and minimise the risk of exclusion. Engagement with education, training and employment is proven to reduce the risk of offending and reoffending by children and young people. The Back on Track agenda encourages greater collective responsibility for the wider needs of children and young people and the YJB supports this as a positive step. The YJB also supports the proposal in the Government's Youth Crime Action Plan (YCAP) that permanent exclusion from education should automatically trigger the completion of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), highlighting that the young person is "in need" and requiring planned multi-agency interventions. Whilst acknowledging that exclusions can be necessary, it is important that the approach includes assessment and interventions to address factors in young people's lives which lead to problem behaviour.

  9.  Proposals to develop the current education system to create an environment of good behaviour are welcome and the YJB agrees that School Behaviour Partnerships (SBPs) can play a key role in achieving this. Introduced in 2007, SBPs bring local schools together to share expertise and resources aimed at improving behaviour and tackling persistent absence. As noted in Back on Track, SBPs have already seen success in achieving this. The YJB supports the measures in the current Apprenticeships, Children, Skills and Learning (ASCL) Bill to place SBPs on statutory footing. It is anticipated that this will further encourage schools to assume greater responsibility for the children and young people in their local areas. However the YJB is concerned that lack of clarity in the Bill over how the balance of responsibilities within SBPs will be managed and the expectations on individual schools compared with the collective partnership may lead to confusion.

  10.  The YJB would welcome greater use of restorative justice (RJ) measures in schools and welcomes the Government's desire to extend RJ principles to pupil referral units (PRUs), as signalled in Back on Track. This would be dependent on local authorities, youth offending teams (YOTs) and police forces providing training support to schools in RJ principles, which is welcome.

  11.  It is therefore anticipated that the introduction of greater accountability measures, alongside other initiatives, will go some way towards creating a climate where schools are more integrated into other children's services.

  12.  The YJB welcomes the recognition in 21st Century Schools consultation that schools can have a central role to play in early intervention and targeted support for children and young people, including the potential to prevent problems developing. In addition to other partnership work, the YJB would support schools working closer with YOTs, the police, Children's Trusts and other children's services to ensure a holistic approach towards addressing the needs of children and young people and to embed the prevention agenda into mainstream education. The YJB welcomes the Government's commitment to work with schools and other partners to support children and young people with additional needs. The YJB supports the principle of a national framework for early intervention, with schools playing a central, integrated role.

  13.  The YJB believes an effective system for early intervention should involve youth justice prevention services as well as wider diversionary programmes such as the DCSF's Think Family projects and Family Intervention programmes.

  14.  Prevention is a key part of the YJB's work and we have developed, funded and supported a range of interventions which offer examples of existing effective practice. Examples include;

    Youth Inclusion Programmes (YIPs). Introduced in 2000, YIPs work in areas of high crime and deprivation in England and Wales. YIPs work with a core group of young people identified as being at high risk of entering the youth justice system or progressing beyond minor offending behaviour. They offer young people the opportunity to engage in positive activities and change their attitudes towards crime and offending.

    Youth Inclusion and Support Panels (YISPs). Aimed at preventing anti social behaviour and offending, YISPs ensure high risk young people and their families can access mainstream and specialist services at the earliest opportunity. YISPs are multi-agency planning groups that work with the young people and their families to develop agreed intervention plans.

    Safer School Partnerships (SSPs). SSPs are multi-agency partnerships involving the police, schools, local education authorities and councils as well as teachers and parents. Launched in 2002 to address significant behavioural and crime-related issues in and around schools, the wider benefits of SSPs have since been recognised, including promoting community cohesion and an increased quality of life and opportunities for young people, their families and the wider community. The SSP programme is the result of a YJB/Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) proposal to develop a new policing model for schools and is a joint initiative between the YJB, ACPO and DCSF. The YJB welcomed the wider roll out of SSPs signalled in YCAP and looks forward to the publication of the related guidance in Spring 2009.

  15.  YJB-funded prevention programmes enable YOTs to deliver vital services to approximately 25,000 young people (aged 8-17) each year. We would welcome sharing this expertise as part of the proposed framework to hold schools to account for early intervention and targeted support.

  16.  The YJB therefore welcomes the 21st Century Schools agenda to develop a system in which schools work with wider children's services to ensure children and young people are effectively supported. In particular we support proposals to ensure greater collective accountability for outcomes for children and young people and the Government's intention to create a national framework to underpin this.

LOCAL AUTHORITY ACCOUNTABILITY AND IMPROVING ALTERNATIVE PROVISION

  17.  The YJB strongly welcomes the agenda set out in Back on Track to hold local authorities to account for outcomes from the alternative provision they commission and deliver, including PRUs. This will be achieved, in part, through involving schools more fully in the accountability structure. In particular, the YJB welcomes the requirement for all PRUs to establish a management committee, requiring substantial involvement by head teachers of local schools. Through increased ownership it is hoped schools will become more aware of and reactive to the needs of children and young people in their community.

18.  As part of the Back on Track agenda, the YJB welcomes the focus on improving the standard and quality of alternative provision through modernisation. The YJB supports DCSF in their proposals to work with local authorities and schools to address the needs of young people in alternative provision and we are currently working with partners including Connexions to establish appropriate service levels. The lack of performance data currently available for PRUs is of concern and the YJB welcomes the drive to improve this situation through future publication of data.

EDUCATION IN CUSTODY

  19.  The YJB welcomes the Government's agenda, as set out in the Youth Crime Action Plan and Raising Expectations White Paper, to improve education and training for young offenders, including placing new duties on local authorities for the continuing attainment for young people in custody. In particular the YJB welcomes the commitment to develop a National Delivery Framework for education and training in juvenile custody which would require local authorities, custodial establishments and other local partners to work together on this issue.

20.  The YJB welcomes the measures to give local authorities responsibility for funding and commissioning custodial education when the Learning and Skills Council relinquishes its responsibilities for the 16 to 19 age group in 2010. However, given the current variety of sources of funding, including funding currently provided by the LSC which may be supplementing any shortfalls in some custodial establishments, YJB is concerned to ensure that the full range of funding sources are reviewed and identified in the transfer to new funding arrangements. The YJB broadly welcomes the creation of the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) which will support local authorities to carry out their new duties. The transition from central to local provision needs to be planned and adequately supported and it is positive that the YPLA will be able to do this.

  21.  As part of this overall approach, the YJB believes there should be greater requirements on education providers, including schools, to maintain contact with young people during their time in custody. It is important that education providers pass vital information about general education performance, SEN statements and other statements of need onto custodial establishments when a young person is sentenced. It is equally important that, as part of an effective resettlement process, schools receive equivalent information back upon a young person's release, including measures of progress. The YJB welcomes the 2006 regulations setting out expectations on schools not to take children who have been sentenced to short term custodial sentences (resulting in an eight week absence) off their school rolls. It should be noted, however, that this is a permissive order and the YJB would welcome stronger regulations to give head teachers less discretion over its enforcement.

  22.  The YJB welcomes the Government's drive to ensure alternative providers play a specific role in liaising with custodial establishments and YOTs on pre-release planning and the resettlement of young people coming out of custody. Indeed the YJB believes it is good practice for all education providers, including schools, to be encouraged to participate in this process.

SCHOOL REPORT CARD

  23.  The YJB welcomes proposals to include wider inclusion outcomes, such as wellbeing, pupil's health and ability to make a positive contribution in the school accountability system, which will be delivered through the proposed School Report Card. The recognition of the importance of these outcomes on a young person's life is welcome. It is anticipated that including wellbeing indicators in the School Report Card will remove any potential confusion over what schools can be held to account for.

24.  The YJB believes schools should be encouraged to accept their "fair share" of pupils who demonstrate challenging behaviour and who are from disadvantaged backgrounds. We would therefore caution against the reporting of measurements in the School Report Card that may incentivise schools to overlook less advantaged children and young people.

  25.  The YJB supports greater collaboration and partnership working between schools and believes this will help to achieve the wider drive to integrate schools more fully into children's services. As previously stated, the YJB supports greater partnership working between schools, Children's Trusts, local authorities and other local agencies including youth justice services and we welcome the proposal for schools to be performance judged on their role in partnership working in the future.

February 2009





 
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