PET launches youth project

18 Nov 2015

Clare Taylor, PET’s Policy and Research Officer, writes:

“At PET, we are excited to have secured funding for three years to enable us to expand the focus of our policy work on the learning needs of young people and young adults. We will be monitoring the implementation of the new 30 hour education contracts brought in by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) for under-18s, as well as investigating the transition of young adults moving into adult prisons. We are also interested in how young people are then reintegrated through the gate and the continuation of their learning journeys in the community.

Academic symposium

In the first year of the project we want to feed clear policy recommendations into the Charlie Taylor Review of the Youth Justice System based on our learning. As such we will be holding an academic symposium on Monday 25th January 2016 at London South Bank University for up to sixty UK and international academics, researchers and policy specialists.

Alongside panel discussions featuring former learners, we will be holding a number of themed roundtables to gather expert views and knowledge to feed into the review.

If you have a research background in youth justice education and would like to attend this event, please send an expression of interest to my colleague T’Leisha with a brief outline of your research interests and publications.

Identifying good practice

We are keen to highlight good practice to improve outcomes for young people. Over the past six months we have visited various educational establishments for young people, both in custody and in the community and spoken to a range of academics, practitioners and specialists to inform our work on this project. We are continuing to gather evidence, so if you have any examples of interesting or successful initiatives, please do get in touch.

One such initiative, which we found inspiring, was held at HMP & YOI Parc’s Fitness Academy which saw community interest company 2nd Chance Academy run a structured 12 week programme for under 18 year olds. During their time at the Academy young people can achieve more than 25 qualifications including: Sports Leaders Award, three day First Aid, Level 1 and 2 Peer Mentoring and level 2 Health and Safety. Whilst there we met James who has told us how the Academy has helped him:

“I’ve now been in prison for eight months and the education programme called Parc Academy has changed the way I look at myself, not only now but in the future. I’m now on Parc Academy as a mentor to other young people as I finished the programme myself. I achieved numerous qualifications within this time which have not only helped me think about my health but making me more employable.

After being on the Academy for 12 weeks then as a mentor for another 10 weeks, I now feel fitter, healthier, more knowledgeable and more confident in myself and this is all down to my education programme and how it has helped me.

"I see myself now as a role model for other young people." adds James.

Young people’s experiences

As part of the project we are keen to speak to more young people about their experiences of learning before, during and after custody. Their personal accounts and case studies will be used to feed into the Taylor Review into youth justice and also into PET’s longer term project.

Please contact me or my Policy team colleagues if you have experience of education in the youth estate, are a young person (aged 18-25) or you work with young people aged 18-25 who would be willing to share their experiences of learning before, during and after custody to improve outcomes for other young people."

If you know someone in custody who would be interested in getting in touch they can write to FREEPOST Prisoners’ Education Trust.