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Education is but one part of that process, but it reinforces the need for the local authority to be responsible for ensuring that, wherever that child comes from-whether they come from a home where a parent can carry it out or whether they need someone else, such as a care officer, to do it-someone is responsible for seeing that these programmes are overseen and are carried out. It is therefore essential that the provision should be made clear in every responsibility that is now being passed on to local authorities.
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, I take the opportunity, given what my noble friend has just said, to thank the Minister for the recent meeting on the Bill, particularly for what was said in that meeting about the social workers who have been appointed to young offender institutions. As my noble friend has said, they play a vital role in ensuring that our most vulnerable children make a smooth transition back to their local authority when they move from the prison.
As the Minister knows, and as I have expressed before in Committee, there is concern that for a long time there has been uncertainty among social workers employed in these settings about their contracts; they have had short-term, one-year contracts and their current funding is uncertain. I am grateful to him for recognising that this is a matter of concern. I recognise that it is the local authority's responsibility. I am grateful that he has said that he will write to me, updating me on the current situation. I would be grateful to hear in his response how many of the 25 posts for social workers are currently filled. I wanted to take that opportunity to thank the Minister for such a positive response on this issue.
Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I also take this opportunity to thank Ministers and, indeed, the team for the time that they have given. It has certainly been helpful. Like my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham, I have had problems with my computer. I hope that we will all catch up in due course.
I am attracted by this duty to establish and maintain a learning programme. It sets out exactly what should be happening. The problem is that none of us really
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Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, it would be helpful to do a note to the Committee on the role of the corporate parent in this. We are placing duties and responsibilities on home local education authorities that are also the corporate parents. It would be helpful to have a note for the Committee on that matter. There are some real benefits to the approach that we are adopting, in being clear about the responsibilities of the home local education authority. I am very sorry that Members of the Committee are having problems with their computers, because we rely on the expert work of our House of Lords computer team. They are fabulous, and they usually do a great job for us.
I offer noble Lords some reassurance about the important amendments that we are discussing. I shall take some time to address some of the concerns that have been expressed. Amendment 126, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, seeks to ensure that local authorities work to identify young people in juvenile custody in their area for whom it is necessary to make special educational provision.
Our guiding principles in these reforms have always been to ensure consistency between provision in and out of custody. However, it is not always practical to replicate the assessment and statementing regime for children and young people in custody. The population in custody is highly mobile, as we heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, and young people generally spend only a short time in a particular institution, which would not allow time for the statementing process. I know that noble Lords have been concerned about that.
The Bill as drafted requires that authorities will use their best endeavours to ensure the delivery of appropriate special educational provision. This will be provision corresponding as closely as possible to the provision in the statement. That is the thrust of what we are trying to achieve. The statement will be the starting point; there will be consideration of whether the provision that it contains remains appropriate and how much of it can be delivered within the time the young person is due to spend in the institution. The Bill also imposes obligations upon the home authority to transfer a copy of the person's SEN statement to the host authority, in which the YOI institution is located, to enable the host authority to determine appropriate special educational provision. That transfer of information is absolutely key, as noble Lords have suggested. It is important that that is timely.
We have also made provision to ensure that a child's statement of special educational needs, which was maintained before the person's detention, must be
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Amendment 128 would ensure that each child and young person in juvenile custody is provided with a personal learning programme. That document is key, as we have heard. Young people in juvenile custody already have individual learning plans as part of their wider sentence and resettlement plans, which are regularly updated. Those are produced very early on in the process. The information contained in the plan follows the person through custody. As my noble friend has already said, the e-Asset system is so important because it can operate in a timely way. That will continue to be the case once the provisions of the Bill are in force.
We will set out in statutory guidance-a high level of authority-that local authorities should ensure through the arrangements that they make with learning providers that all young people receive a learning assessment-again, something that the Committee has been very concerned about. That will examine literacy and numeracy skills and will include a basic screen for special educational needs and learning difficulties. It will inform decisions about how the provision is best tailored to meet their needs alongside the educational information from the home authority. It will bring together information from the home authority-the people who know the child-and put it alongside information garnered in the custodial environment.
The information will be recorded in an individual learning plan that will continue to form part of the person's wider sentence plan. I would be happy to check the exact format of that plan-how it is laid out and so forth-because in e-Asset, that will be the standard approach. I hope to be able to share an outline version of the statutory guidance that lies behind all that with the Committee before Report.
Key to all of this is the role of Ofsted. Ofsted plans to introduce a new methodology for inspection of education in young offender institutions to look at progress being made by offenders. I appreciate the Committee's anxiety about what will really happen, but we have to have mechanisms and levers to ensure that the guidance and the duties that we place are put into action. Ofsted will be using that new methodology, which will include inspection of young people's learning assessments, individual learning plans and the involvement of tutors. It will look forensically at what really happens.
The Bill also strengthens provisions to support the person's resettlement into the community, which is so important when people move and spend only a short time in a young offender institution. New Section 562B places a new duty on the home local authority to take steps to promote the fulfilment of the young person's learning potential while they are in juvenile custody and on their release. Where appropriate, the home authority must make arrangements for the provision of education or training on the person's release from
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I would like to offer a little more reassurance on Amendments 133 and 134. I agree that it is essential for both home and host authorities to have all available information about a young person. That is why we have new Section 562E, which provides for the sharing of information connected with the provision of education or training for detained persons. That includes any information relating to a person's special educational needs.
New Section 562F provides for the transfer of copies of any SEN statements, and makes provision to ensure that the host authority is aware that a person has a statement and that the host local authority will need to ensure that it has a copy of the statement to fulfil its "best endeavours" duty in new Section 562, which is a key part of the new duty on the person's home authority. We recognise that, with different authorities involved, this could be complex. The youth justice system's recent development of the e-Asset programme, the secure e-mail system that we have heard about, presents new opportunities to make information transfer much simpler, more efficient and more timely. We will be clear on how information exchange should occur, particularly in the guidance that we are producing. I hope that with these and any further reassurances the noble Lords would like me to offer-I will do my best-the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Lucas: I thought at the beginning that we were wandering off course when the noble Baroness talked about statements. The noble Lord's amendment clearly runs far wider than that. However, then she said something absolutely wonderful: that when these children come into custody they will be assessed. They will have a general assessment that will cover basic special educational needs, literacy and numeracy. Can I have some details about that? I would really like to know what this assessment is to be. Beyond anything else, it would be nice to see it introduced in schools. We have been asking for this for a very long time. I have no objection to the Prison Service leading the way in this fashion, but I would like to know the details. I would also like to know what frequency Ofsted proposes for its inspections and how quickly it anticipates getting around the estate for its first inspections when the Bill is passed.
The noble Baroness talks, quite rightly, about gathering information from the host authority. What provision is being made to encourage host authorities to put this information together before their charge arrives somewhere else, in another authority's young offender institution? Should this process-of preparing a dossier which could go immediately to the institution-not have been started two or three weeks beforehand? There is usually, or quite often, a gap between conviction and sentencing; should the dossier preparation not begin at that point? Finally, the noble Baroness again mentioned e-Asset, which is not a system that I have come across. If she can point me in the direction of documentation on that, I should be most grateful.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: I would be very happy to write in detail to the noble Lord. As he has suggested, it would be a good idea for the assessments to be undertaken and reports prepared before sentencing. That is the way it works. I will write in detail to the noble Lord about how all the assessments work and copy it to the Committee. The assessments are requirements under secondary legislation and through contractual arrangements that are entered into with providers. There are strict deadlines for assessments; they should be made within either 10 working days or two weeks. There is a lot to go through but I will furnish the Committee with that detail.
Lord Baker of Dorking: Before the amendment is withdrawn, could I ask the Minister to remind the Committee about where the flow of funds is in all this? Clearly, under these two clauses, the local education authority is now responsible for providing adequate education and training for those held in youth custody. That presumably means that it will be responsible for funding this. There are funds available in the Prison Service for this at the moment. Will those funds be reduced? If new equipment is required or if, perhaps, prisons or youth offender institutions do not have such equipment, will the local authority provide it, or will the Prison Service be expected to do so? What I am really getting at is, who is the paymaster here? Will the whole prison system regime have its funds reduced so that the local education authority takes over a function which hitherto has been the responsibility of prison governors and the Prison Service?
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, the YPLA will have a key role in apportioning funds. I do not have details of the exact flows of money in my file but we are not expecting local authorities to pick up additional funds that would have been the responsibility of the Youth Justice Board. However, again, I am happy to write to the noble Lord and to the Committee giving the full detail. Even a flow diagram might be helpful.
Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, in response to the point of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, about inspection, I inform the Committee that since 1996 Ofsted inspectors have gone into every young offender institution not independently but as part of a prisons inspection, because the Ofsted inspectors go in with the prisons inspectorate.
Lord Elton: My Lords, I will seek advice on what the noble Baroness has so far told us. Before we leave Amendment 128, I ask her to note that it not only sets out that a programme should be put in place but obliges the host authority to report every week on the progress made by the pupil. That information is then put together with the programme, to be sent on. It may not be enough just to say "This should be put across", because those of us who have worked in school staffrooms know that at the end of 18 gruelling weeks either you say, "Little Johnny could try harder", or one can give a blow-by-blow statement of his
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That brings me to SEN. I am delighted to join my noble friend Lord Lucas in welcoming the intention at last to screen all incomers. The Minister said that that will take time. It will, I think, inevitably throw up a number of cases which need statements. However, in the same paragraph that she announced that, she said that they will not be in the same place long enough for a statement to be drawn up for them. That lends great force to the point of my noble friend Lord Lucas that a regulation should require at least certain aspects of the educational programme to take priority in the list of criteria that are applied to prisoners before they are moved.
Having given good warning, I am not finished with Amendment 128 or the principles therein. Subject to what I may cull from Hansard later, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Elton: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment 127, which would, at page 31, line 7, leave out new subsection (1), or rather, as it appears on the Marshalled List,
When I first read this measure I thought that I detected a Henry VIII clause apparently giving sweeping powers to amend legislation passed by this House, and when I read it again I had the same impression. The Minister has told me that this is not the use intended for the provision by the present Government. However, she cannot, of course, speak for the next and subsequent Governments. I was encouraged by her to bring forward an amendment to new Section 562A if I was particularly concerned about this, so all I need to do at this stage is to say that I am and to listen to what she has to say.
Lord Young of Norwood Green: Despite the change of gender involved, I shall endeavour to reply. As we have heard, Amendment 127 reflects a concern about the proposed use of the power in new Section 562A-that we could make regulations to disapply many of the provisions of the Education Acts from young offenders. I can reassure your Lordships' House that this is not the case. New Section 562A merely provides a power to modify primary and secondary legislation in their application or effect on those detained in relevant youth accommodation.
Perhaps it is also worth noting that the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee was content with the power and application of the negative resolution procedure. I recognise, however, the concerns that this power may be used to disapply the specific young offender provision made by this Bill. Certainly, we
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Lord Elton: My Lords, I am most grateful, and I shall table a similar amendment on Report unless the Government have an amendment that makes it unnecessary for me to do so. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendments 128 and 129 not moved.
130: Clause 49, page 31, line 32, at end insert-
"( ) If the home authority receive a notification under section 562F(7) or 562G(3), (5) or (6), subsection (3) shall apply as if the words "where it appears to the home authority appropriate to do so" have been omitted from it."
Lord Elton: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments 131 and 135. Amendment 135 requires the host authority to give to the home authority adequate warning of the release of an inmate. I realise that the arbitrary 14 days that I have chosen may not be appropriate, but it is necessary to ensure, as my noble friend Lord Lucas and others have said, that a receiving-back home authority shall have time to get its act together and to get to know the young person-indeed, make face-to-face contact with them-before they return to their home area.
Amendment 130 applies when a host authority alerts a home authority of special educational needs or learning difficulties. The amendment would prevent the home authority saying, "Oh no, he hasn't", because at the moment it is required to take action to meet the conditions described by the host authority only if it seems to the home authority appropriate to do so. I should like the Minister to give some explanation of the circumstances in which there might be a difference of opinion between the host authority and the home authority on the SEN and learning difficulties of one of their charges.
In all these provisions, I hope that the Committee would be right to assume that everything said about England could be said about Wales. That is why I have included new Section 562G(6) in Amendment 130. I need say no more about Amendment 131, which is simply a belt-and-braces provision that I think the Minister will tell me is unnecessary. I beg to move.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, I very much hope that I can offer the reassurances that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is looking for. Perhaps I may walk through the notes that I have. However, first, I agree that young people's learning needs, including
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The general duties on local authorities to ensure that education and training are available for all children and young people in their area under Sections 13 and 14 of the Education Act 1996 and new Section 15ZA will apply to young people on their release from juvenile detention, as they do to all young people in a local authority area. Local authorities also have a duty to meet the special educational needs of people in their area under Part IV of that Act. I am arguing that the amendments are, as the noble Lord suggested, unnecessary.
The Bill will help to ensure that no young person is missed by a local authority on their release from juvenile custody, and will help to ensure the successful transition back into education and training in the community by placing the duty on home authorities to promote the fulfilment of the person's learning potential. I am afraid that I am coming back to the statutory guidance, but we will make it explicit in that guidance that this includes the need to have regard to any special educational needs that a person may have.
The noble Lord, Lord Elton, was concerned about possible disagreements between local authorities. I might have to think about that. A young person can only be in one place at any one time. If a home authority does not agree with what a host authority has said about special educational needs, when the person comes home the home authority's view would, I imagine, trump the earlier view taken by the other authority. However, I am happy to think further about whether I have got that right. As I said, we will make it explicit in statutory guidance that regard must be had to a person's special educational needs on release and return to the home authority area.
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