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‘Reviewing the Provision of Education for young people in Detention: Rights, Research and Reflections on Policy and Practice’
Rationale to identify the rights for children and young people in custody to education in Northern Ireland; to analyse and review the legal and policy provisions for the educational needs of children and young people in custody; to highlight research evidence and data in relation to the voice and educational experiences of young people in custody and identify gaps in existing provision; to explore new strategies of providing education in custody and make recommendations for policy development and implementation.
Current arrangements fall short of internationalstandards Although progress has been made arrangements fall short of international standards. Provision of education remains problematic. Provision of well-co-ordinated education, training and support is fundamental to address offending and prepare young people for re- integration to the community. Young people not taught in line with the NI Curriculum. In some circumstances young people not receiving adequate training to prepare them for release. Overuse of custodial remand and undue delay in youth justice system.
Need for Improved co-ordination and information Poor transmission of key information and lack of continuity between custodial-based education and provision in the wider community. Whilst there has been some progress in this area, evidence indicates that it is still not fully realised in practice. There have been consistent calls for joint collaboration between relevant government departments, agencies and community organisations. Consideration should be given to statutory guidance with comprehensive provisions for children and young people in a youth custody setting. Welsh Assembly Government (2011) Learning for children and young people in a youth custody setting in Wales: Statutory guidance for local authorities in Wales.
Collaborative Partnerships are critical to improvere-integration A collaborative approach between youth custody settings and external agencies can support young people during and after their time in detention. Education or work-based placement on release can be a significant deterrent for reoffending. The lack of access to and support in securing such placements post custody can have a detrimental effect on successful re-integration. There is a need to develop external relationships, for example, with further education and work-based learning suppliers to make it easier for young people leaving custody to reintegrate into mainstream education and training. Also requires strong support structures to be put in place including those for family support.
Data Collection can be improved Quality information and research that produce policy relevant knowledge are crucial to inform policy. Good progress has been made in recent years. Difficulties remain with existing data on education in custody. Lack of information or portfolio about educational gains made in custody. There is a need for comprehensive data systems, particularly longitudinal and disaggregated data on young people in custody; data on re-offending and pathways and outcomes post release. Need for longitudinal data which goes ‘Back to the Future’.
Dedicated Training and pedagogical approaches canimprove outcomes for Children and Young People Children in custody are rights holders and not merely recipients of penal care. Role of professionals can influence the experiences of young people and equip them with learning and skills to reintegrate into society. There are deficits in child rights training for staff in places of detention for young people in Northern Ireland. Deficits remain in training on the complex and rehabilitative needs of young people in custody. Alternative approaches to education can help re-engage young people who are disaffected and improve teaching quality. Innovative pedagogy and technology can be used to improve learning.