AYM part of new initiative for young offenders with Special Educational Needs

A ground-breaking new online training programme is being launched which aims to provide the essential support to the many young people with special educational needs (SEN) who are in custody and also those at risk of offending, helping them achieve better outcomes (well-being, education and employment) and substantially reduce their risk of offending or reoffending.

The online learning platform will provide free training and support to every professional in the Youth Justice System to improve practice, reduce offending by young people and improve their educational outcomes.

Funded by the Department for Education, the programme is being delivered by national education charity Achievement for All (AfA), in partnership with the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

Marius Frank, Director at Achievement for All, said: “We have developed a series of innovative modules which sit on a new online learning platform called the Youth Justice SEND Bubble. The modules have been written by frontline professionals for frontline professionals. There is nothing stronger than peer-to-peer learning. It captures the passion and commitment of dedicated professionals, shares existing best practice and develops consistency across the YJS in England.”

Young people with a special educational need are five times more likely to enter the youth justice system, with 18% of sentenced young people in custody having a statement of special educational needs. Additional research shows that up to 90% of young offenders have below average speech, language and communication skills, with up to 67% having language skills which are ‘poor or very poor’.

The majority of these young people have been excluded from school at some point and as a result, have never had their conditions properly diagnosed or addressed. Many of them also suffer family breakdown, trauma, abusive relationships or poverty.

Marius continued: “Rather than be punished, these young people need to be helped, their needs identified and met, and their life chances transformed.  Investing in effective early intervention work will also save considerable costs to communities and to government further down the line: it is a win-win-win solution.”

The Youth Justice SEND Bubble will be launched at the Youth Justice Convention in Milton Keynes on 30th November 2016. The online modules are free to access and offer a comprehensive learning environment on legislation, practice and special education needs in the YJS. It is for staff in youth offending, secure estate, health and care, and local authority SEN teams.

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