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The Prison Reform Trust produced a report, Wings of Learning, which looks at how prison officers could be trained and supported to become advocates for education in young offender institutions. It is a powerful work which the Minister will find of interest. It speaks to what many of your Lordships have said about the barriers and the resistance to supporting education in the secure estate and what might be done to break them down. I look forward to the Minister's response.

Lord Addington: In intervening in the general debate on these amendments, my eye has been particularly drawn to Amendment 115. Before you do anything else, an assessment and identification of those with any form of learning difficulty is vital. By definition, these people do not fit into the normal learning pattern and unless you know what you are dealing with you are going to get it wrong. The only question is the extent to which you get it wrong. Unless you identify the original problem, you will get it wrong.

If the person has a hidden disability-such as dyspraxia and dyslexia, which is probably the most common-and you do not get it right, everything else you do will be inappropriate. If you identify the disability and confirm to the person involved that that is the reason why they have not succeeded and that it is not because they are intrinsically thick and cannot succeed, you will have taken the first step towards giving them a chance to engage in the system. This is primarily because you have told the person that their disability is the reason why they have not succeeded-or have not succeeded to a far greater extent-not because they are stupid. Those with hidden disabilities are often written off as being stupid, lazy or whatever, but if you can start that communication with them they stand a better chance of succeeding.

I am particularly attracted to something that gives a proper assessment of that person. That means that you can start to communicate with them. Much of the rest of what goes on does not happen unless the person is willing to come to you. Anyone who has learnt anything about education knows that the first step is to get the other person willing to engage. If we do that and we are thus prepared-I am assuming that we are prepared at least to have a knowledge of what not to do with, for example, a dyslexic-then we will start to progress. Unless we get some form of assessment of what has gone wrong, though, we are not going to succeed.

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I hope that the amendments that follow the line of finding out what is there are worked into the Bill. They would have to be formalised because the staff are simply not well enough trained at the moment to do it without this. It would enable the rest of the provisions to stand a chance of coming into effect.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My name is attached to three of these amendments. All of them underline the whole business of special needs. We are all concerned about the proportion of those who end up in custody who have these sorts of problems. To put it bluntly, we have failed in the past. I am one of those who is pleased at the thought that local education authorities are being brought back into the system-or, to put it another way, that they will continue the role that they already have in the extension of the school-leaving age to 19. For those with special educational needs, this will go beyond that time as well.

We need to look carefully at what my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham said. There were crucial points to be taken into consideration and repeated in the Queen's Speech. As well as that, we need to be thinking of what is happening inside some of these institutions. If the local education authorities, plus the area in which the young offender institution is to be situated, are to have this overall joint responsibility, it is important that everyone is involved. The hint that the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, was definitely giving in what she said, and which is in some of the literature that I have been looking through, is that prisoners have a high regard for the education staff in prison and are very supportive of them, but that the prison officers are regarded, frankly, as not being much help at all within the prison. One needs the authority, which should be given by the Bill but may need underlining, to assert that education is of paramount importance and should take precedence over any other activity in the prison.

We come to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, that these young people are in prison for only three months. For a start, we have failed them by sending them to prison even for that long. There is no point in doing that. Some of the plans for the future that many of us have been underlining in debates of this kind emphasise the need to keep a lot of offenders, particularly young ones, out of prison, and to assess them so that we can see that their needs are attended to. If they are in prison or a young offender institution, even if only for three months, let us start immediately. The most important thing is to assess what their particular needs are. That will fill in that time, as well as ensuring that that assessment is passed on to the next institution that they go on to.

I am not going to go on any more because quite clearly we have a mass of amendments. We will not get to the end of Committee stage by any means, but there are plenty of other areas that we all wish to address. I very much hope that local authorities will fund some of the activities as a result of their residents ending up in prison, because that sort of link is important, too. I hope that they do not feel, because they are sending someone off to a young offender institution, that ends their responsibility for paying for what is happening. I hope that all those things will be taken into account when we move on to some of the other issues.

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4.30 pm

Baroness Walmsley: Before the Minister winds up this very interesting debate, I shall just ask her a few questions about resources. Let us be blunt. Educating young people in custody is very expensive. I have some sympathy with a Government who have to do this at a time of economic crisis; it is difficult, but it must be done, because it is the most enormously good investment. It will save us all a great deal of money and distress in future.

It is expensive for two reasons. First, many of these young people have severe educational difficulties. Therefore, you need highly skilled staff and very small groups; indeed, in many cases, you need one-to-one tuition. The second reason is that the Government will now be asking local authorities all over the country to set up an absolute spider's web of communications. A young offender institution with 40 young people in it may have to deal with 40 different home authorities, back to which the young people will go on their discharge. It takes time to do this. Are they going to be given the resources to do this? Any young offender institution dealing effectively with that number of local authorities to ensure that the time in education in prison is not wasted and can be continued with when they go back is going to have to employ somebody to do that job full time. Are they going to have the money to do it?

Lord De Mauley: The amendments in this group cover a number of important areas, but have at their heart a desire to ensure that education for those detained in youth accommodation is constructed in the most helpful and productive way possible.

I start by offering my support in particular to Amendments 114 and 120, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Garden. They clearly offer some very sensible suggestions for areas that this Bill should cover. Amendment 114, which would ensure that sentence planning had to reflect the fact that young people have to step back into school or college on release, raises a very important concern. It is vital that detention in youth accommodation is part and parcel of a process of development and rehabilitation, not just a punishment. We want to ensure that this is not the beginning of a spiral towards further detention, or later time in prison.

We also support Amendment 119. It is not only sensible but eminently desirable that those in youth accommodation should receive suitable careers guidance. We have been discussing amendments to ensure that the education that they receive is up to the mark, and will allow readjustment into life outside the young offender institution, so it is logical that that should also involve appropriate careers guidance to increase chances of productive employment after youth accommodation. Could the Minister explain the situation regarding careers guidance for this group of people at the moment? Does she feel that enough is being done? I am curious, too, and ask her whether she feels that youth accommodation should reflect as closely as possible education in schools-or does she think that there might be scope for having specific and intensive courses on literacy and numeracy, which may help young people to adapt to the school environment when they return? That could mean that sentence

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planning had to take into account the fact that some young people should be sent to a particular place of youth detention. Does she see any merit in that argument?

To this end, I support Amendment 118, tabled by my noble friend Lord Lucas, to which the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, who has spoken with such insight on this group of amendments, has put his name, which asks that rather than education in youth detention necessarily reflecting that which should happen in schools, it should complement it and allow those detained to prepare for educational opportunities that they may expect to receive on release.

That helpfully goes hand in hand with our later Amendment 124A regarding modular courses, which is specifically designed to prepare those detainees for the educational opportunities that we hope will be open to them on release. Perhaps I might say at this stage that I very much liked the idea, which I think was suggested by my noble friend Lady Buscombe, that those involved in the decision-making process should go and see the inside of the prison system themselves. I am ashamed to say that it is quite a long time since I made a visit, for instance, to Wormwood Scrubs and I, for one, would welcome an opportunity to see the system from the inside, especially the young offender system. If I am successful, I hope that I shall be released in time for the next day in Committee.

Amendment 136, also tabled by my noble friend Lord Lucas, brings forward another important issue that people should not be subjected to youth accommodation without a full assessment of their educational needs and any special educational requirements. We support the principle behind the amendment. Without an assessment of needs or ability, there is simply no point in hours of education which could at best be unproductive and even possibly damaging.

Many of today's contributions have concentrated on the need to ensure that the LEAs must provide for those with special educational needs or learning difficulties. Noble Lords across the Committee will be aware of our deep concern that no one should be left out in the cold by these clauses and that particular concern should be given to ensuring that those with special educational needs and learning difficulties should not be allowed to fall through the net.

We support Amendments 115 and 122. The Bill already imposes a duty on the LEA to have regard to special educational needs or learning difficulties when ensuring that enough suitable education is provided. We support this section of the Bill. Does the Minister agree that making sure the appropriate assessments are undertaken in order to identify the necessary requirements is key to fulfilling the obligation to ensure that suitable education is provided? It just seems to me that until these assessments are carried out there can be no guarantee that the education and training being provided is suitable for the people it is supposed to serve. Perhaps she could inform the Committee whether the intention behind the legislation was always that such assessments would be carried out. If so, it would be helpful to know why that should not be put in the Bill.

Our Amendment 117 in this group raises an issue that was also considered in another place. As the Bill stands, the LEA only has to take account of special

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educational needs or learning difficulties. We would argue, however, that there is a section missing from that. Surely it is important for language difficulties to be taken into account as well. Those in youth detention, who may not even speak English as their first language or who might have a speech impairment, for example, will not be taken into account by the provisions as laid out in Clause 47.

In the Children and Young People in Custody 2006-08 report, a sample of 2,500 15 to 18 year-olds in prison found that 7 per cent of young men and 6 per cent of young women did not speak English as their first language. That varied across the country. At Feltham, for example, only 78 per cent of young people spoke English as their first language. A large number of people therefore would benefit from the expansion of Clause 47(2)(b) to include language. In another place the Minister said:

"Currently, there is nowhere in the legislation that requires a local authority to include as a special educational need the fact that the language in which a person is taught is different to that spoken in their home".-[Official Report, Commons, Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill, 17/03/09; col. 358.]

Does the Minister admit that this might make education very difficult for the sizeable minority of people that this would affect?

Lord Elton: I interrupt my noble friend to observe that those words are now in the Bill, in Clause 40(8):

"But a person is not to be taken to have a learning difficulty solely because the language (or form of language) in which the person is or will be taught is different from a language (or form of language) which has at any time been spoken in the person's home".

I drew this to the Committee's attention earlier, and warmly support my noble friend in his concern.

Lord De Mauley: I am grateful to my noble friend. This somewhat undermines the good intentions behind the clause, which asks the LEA to ensure that suitable education is provided for everyone, a principle with which I am sure we could all agree.

The Minister in the other place said that she envisaged that the Government might cover this in the statutory guidance that will be produced. Can the Minister provide us with some assurance that that will be the case? Does she not think that there is a case for putting it in the Bill? We received no assurance about this in the other place, but I hope that she will have had a chance to reflect on the merits of the proposal and look forward to hearing what she has to say.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: I am delighted to respond to what has been an important and extremely learned debate. I certainly welcome, and have listened carefully to, the responses from those who have been involved: the noble Lords, Lord Ramsbotham and Lord Elton, the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, and many others who have a great deal of experience and have thought very carefully about these issues over many years.

I have a rather long speaking note, but I hope to go through the amendments and pick up the important points made by noble Lords. The first thing I want to say is that, in these kind of debates in Committee, I have a sense that the Government often stand at the Dispatch Box and say that we are producing guidance

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which will pick up the issues. In this case, I am optimistic that we will be able to share with the Committee the contents of guidance because we have the Summer Recess. This will help us a great deal, and it will help the Committee to have a much fuller picture of how the new system will work.

I want to respond quickly to the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, on one point. I remind the Committee that, since 2001, the operating expenditure of the Youth Justice Board has more than doubled. Spending on education for young people in custody has increased over sevenfold since April 2000. There have been real changes and a significant increase in the number of hours for which young people engage in the juvenile sector which has gone from seven to 26.5 over that period; I will correct that if it is wrong, but it is a significant improvement.

Lord Ramsbotham: I am interested in what the Minister says. On 17 November 2008 her colleague Mr Hanson announced that the hours of education and training for young offenders ranged from 19.8 for Werrington to 5.3 for Glen Parva, so I do not recognise the 26 figure.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: I am happy to write to the Committee with the figures that I have used. The point I am trying to make is that we are making progress, but I would not accept for a moment that there is 100 per cent consistency or that we have gone far enough. The really significant issue here is about taking a step forward, promoting consistency and applying education law to children and young people in custody for the first time. I will go through each amendment and respond to the points, but I hope we can keep that significant step and significant uplift in investment in mind because it is key.

4.45 pm

I will talk first about Amendment 114. Education and training are already integrated into sentence planning. An assessment-which the Committee understands is key-of a young person's individual needs is made when they enter the youth justice system. This is a requirement of the Youth Justice Board. It includes gathering information about the person's education prior to coming into the system. This is used to inform the pre-sentence report, which is used in the sentencing process. It is already required that this assessment be forwarded to the custodial establishment so that it can inform the person's sentence planning, spanning both time in custody and release into the community. Increasingly, juvenile sentences are less custodial and spent more in the community, so that is extremely important.

The Youth Justice Board recently rolled out an electronic form called E-Asset for this system. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, was very concerned about communications. The E-Asset, which has been rolled out across the full juvenile secure estate, is designed to improve and speed up information transfer. The duty in the Bill on home local authorities to promote the fulfilment of a person's learning potential will help to ensure that young people can continue their education and training on their release from custody. The intention there is very much along the lines of the concerns of

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the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, about the importance of community and providing consistency, so that when young people are released back into their communities, their education can be picked up. New Section 562B(3) specifically requires the home authority, where appropriate, to make arrangements for education and training provision on the person's release from detention. Yes, you could describe that as a spider's web, but you could also describe it as a safety net.

Amendment 119 picks up the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, about careers advice. The general requirement in the Education and Skills Act-which we debated almost a year ago-concerning careers advice already includes young people in custody, so I can reassure the noble Lord on that. Similar provision is made for Wales by directions under Section 123 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000. We will issue statutory guidance and directions to local authorities in England next year to reinforce the existing non-statutory guidance regarding the provision of information, advice and guidance to services. This will include responsibilities for the provision of IAG services for young people in custody.

Lord De Mauley: I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. I wonder whether she could write to the Committee after today to explain what progress has been made in the provision of this careers guidance, a year having passed since the last Bill.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: I will be delighted to help the Committee in that way. Coming to Amendments 118 and 136, the Bill inserts new Section 18A in the Education Act 1996 so that local authorities, in securing suitable provision for people in juvenile custody, will have to have regard to the desirability of enabling people to complete programmes of study that they have already begun. As I have said, that is extremely important and local authorities must have regard to any relevant curriculum and the desirability that the education should be comparable. The noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, asked what our aspirations are. We are clearly saying that our aspiration is that education in the community and that delivered in custody should be comparable, taking account of-and being tailored according to-individual needs. In the Our Future: Building a 21st Century Schools System White Paper, we talked a lot about small group work and one-to-one provision in communities, and that comparison is very important for young people in the juvenile setting.

The duties have been carefully drafted to ensure that local authorities secure high-quality provision in juvenile custody that can be tailored to meet the needs of young people. We will make it clear in the statutory guidance that I have already talked about that, whenever appropriate, learning in custody should complement prior learning; we will be very clear about what is expected of the system. However, we recognise that this may not always be desirable or possible and that provision should be capable of being tailored to best meet the needs of young people. We must have not only high aspirations but flexibility. The information-sharing requirements and the YJB's E-Asset system to which I have already referred will also help to ensure continuity, which the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, most eloquently described to us as key.

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Amendments 115, 121 and 122 relate to provision for young people with special educational needs. The noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, and the noble Lord, Lord Addington, are particularly concerned about this. I fully agree that we must ensure that children and young people's learning difficulties are identified and their needs met both when they are in custody and when they are in the community. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, talked, as he has in the past, about the challenges that bring young people into the system and how they need to be taken account of. I know that he appreciates those challenges.

We have been clear in new Section 18A that when local authorities secure suitable learning provision in juvenile custody, they must have regard to any special educational needs or learning difficulties that these young people may have. As we know, custody can provide a real opportunity for them to improve their skills and to re-engage in learning, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and others have argued. Young people are often in custody for only a short time of between three and four months, and it is important that their needs can be identified quickly and that we make the most of their short time in custody.

I am happy to confirm to the Committee that, in setting out how host local authorities should fulfil their obligations, we will say in statutory guidance that local authorities should ensure that general learning assessments, including using a short screening tool for learning difficulties and disabilities, are conducted quickly for all young people and used, along with educational information provided by the home authority, to inform decisions about the education or training to be provided to a person. This should continue to be recorded in the young person's learning plan and will form part of a wider sentence plan.

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