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  • Writer's pictureClare Jerrom

ETE opportunities in youth justice system remain inconsistent

Education, training and employment opportunities for young people in the youth justice system "remain variable and inconsistent", according to a report by the HMI Probation.

ETE opportunities is fundamental for children on youth justice services' caseloads and critical in supporting young people to prevent offending or reoffending. However, thematic and core inspections found gaps in provision and major barriers to children’s participation in ETE.

The 2022 Annual Report: inspections of youth offending services found: "ETE opportunities remain variable and inconsistent. Poor identification of SEN, the prevalence of long-term part-time timetables, poor attendance that went unchallenged, and high rates of both formal and informal exclusions fragment the potential for ETE to make a significant difference."

The report found:

  • Even when these children were in school, far too many of them had only part-time timetables.

  • Almost 29 per cent of the children had been permanently excluded from school, and almost two-fifths of those over statutory school age were NEET.

  • Many of the children were excluded or had been disengaged from ETE for a long time. In one case, a child had not been at school for five years, and it was not unusual to see children who had not been engaged in ETE for two years or more.

Sammy Odoi, managing director of Wipers, said: "Engaging children in the youth justice system in ETE opportunities is vital to break the cycle of offending. Providing an insight into an alternative path in life, through practical work experience, education or training is fundamental in encouraging a life away from crime."

However, HMI Probation's case inspections showed that:

  • Children with EHCPs/Individual Development Plans were the least well-managed group in our sample. Often, the defined needs of the child were missed in assessment, and this meant that fewer had effective plans in place to support their needs.

  • There were also differences in the EHCP/IDP support available to children who identified as mixed ethnic heritage, compared to the rest of the cohort. Assessment and planning work did not effectively consider the role ETE played in supporting these children to desist from further offending.

  • The delivery of services for children with identified disabilities too often (in 35 per cent of cases) failed to provide the necessary support to sustain a child in education. The most prevalent disabilities identified in the sample were learning or other cognitive disabilities.

There was also little improvement in children’s literacy and numeracy. HMI Probation would like to see more focus on providing children with ETE services that help them achieve level 2 in English and mathematics – the standard required for entry into the workplace.

"Overall, we remain concerned at the lack of provision to meet the ETE needs of post-school-age children supervised by YJSs, although a number of areas did demonstrate what was possible. In Hammersmith and Fulham, for example, we found that over 90 per cent of over-16s were in ETE," the report said.

Sammy Odoi added: "Lessons need to be taken from the work carried out by Hammersmith and Fulham. Providing young people with appropriate ETE opportunities can make all the difference to their future going forwards."


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