The government has set out its vision, guidance, expectations and requirements for prospective secure school providers going forward.
They previously published their response to Charlie Taylor’s ‘Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales’ in December 2016 setting out their commitment to improve standards in youth justice, and make youth custody a place of safety and rehabilitation. They said that they would tackle violence and improve outcomes for children in custody by placing education and health at the heart of the custodial estate. This included a commitment to develop secure schools.
The vision for secure schools aligns with the Taylor Review’s principles: child-focussed providers, strong leaders with freedom and autonomy, a specialised workforce offering bespoke provision for individual children that has education, health, care and physical activity at its heart. A therapeutic environment in a secure setting.
The recently released guidance sets out that secure schools will need to:
- combine the ethos and practice of the best alternative provision schools with the structure and support of the best secure children’s homes. It is proposed that they will be registered as both a 16 to 19 academy and a secure children’s home. They will operate 24 hours a day for 52 weeks a year. Secure schools will be set up and run by secure academy trusts. It will have a separate board to give strategic leadership to and have accountability for the performance of its secure school(s).
- be the best specialist providers with a clear child-focused ethos at their core, demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to work with children in crisis and exhibit an unshakeable desire to help them turn their lives around. They need to establish strong links with community provision and offer a seamless service, both during a custodial sentence (through temporary release) and upon release.
- be led by headteachers with an excellent record who will demand ambitious standards for all students, advancing equality and helping them to live successful, crime-free lives on their return to the community. They will be able to set and adapt the curriculum and timetable, as long as they feature English, maths, computing, physical education, sports and vocational training with appropriate and aspirational qualifications available to all.
- have aspecialised workforce dedicated to and trained for working with children with complex needs and challenging behaviour in a secure residential setting.
See the full guidance and how to apply here