I am delighted to present our draft ‘How to apply guide’ for Secure Schools.
Publication of this guidance marks an important milestone in the government’s commitment to reforming youth justice, as set out in our response to Charlie Taylor’s review of the Youth Justice System in December 2016.
The Justice Secretary recently set out his strategy to put education and employment at the heart of rehabilitation. This impacts across the custodial estate and secure schools are a key part of embedding this vision in youth custodial provision. By putting child-focused providers in full control of the education they deliver, we now have the opportunity to offer a more innovative and tailored approach to the care and education of young people.
The children we care for in the youth custodial estate are some of the most vulnerable in our society and have a wide range of complex and challenging educational, health and psycho-social development needs. It is essential that while they are in custody we begin the process of equipping them with the tools they need to address their offending behaviour, meet their developmental needs and help them to become law-abiding members of our community.
We can only do that through the provision of a service that is underpinned by the principles of best practice as set out in our vision: child focussed providers, strong leaders with freedom and autonomy, a specialised workforce offering bespoke provision for individual children that has education, healthcare and physical activity at its heart and is delivered in a therapeutic environment in a secure setting.
To deliver our vision we must attract the very best specialist providers for Secure Schools, and work in partnership with them to deliver a truly integrated approach to education and care. It is essential that the guidance provides the information that allows applicants to submit a thorough and compelling application and I would ask that you share your comments on any aspect of it with the Secure Schools team.
We will also be hosting a market engagement event in July where potential providers will be able to meet the Secure Schools team, gain a more detailed insight into the developing model and influence our emerging thinking, as well as find out more about the cohort of young people they will care for. I invite you to please pre-register your interest in applying to run a Secure School if you would like to attend these sessions.
I believe that smaller custodial establishments, such as Secure Schools, which are child focused, and have the autonomy to ensure that education, health and rehabilitation are placed at the heart of their environments, are the key to helping children to address their offending behaviour and improve their chances in life. I look forward to receiving your views and seeing the final model develop over the next few months.