The Worcestershire Area Partnership has been awarded a top accreditation for their work helping young people with special educational needs.
West Mercia Youth Justice Service and Worcestershire Children First have been awarded an Achievement For All Quality Mark Award for partnerships securing better outcomes for children and young people with special education needs in the youth justice system.
All children and young people in the youth justice system are vulnerable by virtue of their age and developmental immaturity.
High numbers of children and young people who come to the attention of youth justice services also have complex learning needs, low levels of educational attainment, speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and more untreated health issues than their peers.
Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are often undiagnosed as opportunities to assess are sometimes missed, with many in this vulnerable group not receiving the support they need to achieve positive change.
Achievement For All ‘s Youth Justice SEND project supports youth justice services and local authorities in effectively identifying and meeting the special educational needs and disabilities of young people in the youth justice system, working towards more effective engagement and more positive long term outcomes.
A Quality Mark award was created by Achievement for All to recognise the development of relationships, networks, protocols, policy and practice to support children and young people with SEND in the youth justice system.
Marius Frank, Project Leader at Achievement for All said: ““Few people outside the youth justice system realise the significant numbers of young people with special educational needs who end up in trouble with the police, in front of magistrates, or worse, end up in custody.
“The reasons are manifold: some of these young people have been excluded from school for poor behaviour; some know that they are ‘different’ to other children, but they might not know why - as a result, over time, they have learned to ‘camouflage’ their learning disabilities behind layer upon layer of ‘front’ which you see as poor behaviour.
“Our awards acknowledge and celebrate the Youth Offending Teams who work in close and effective partnerships with schools, academies, other organisations to put policies, processes and practice in place that creates a team around a child, either diverting them away from youth justice pathways or preventing them from entering the youth justice system in the first place.”
Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Education and Skills at Worcestershire County Council, Councillor Marcus Hart said: “I would like to express my thanks to all those from the SEND service and youth justice team who were involved in the project on achieving this quality mark.
“We have been working together with West Mercia Youth Justice Service for many years in order to achieve better outcomes for children and young people. It is reassuring to know that we have achieved a quality standard in focussing and responding to special educational needs or disabilities for young people who have been or at risk of being criminalised.
This will be key to helping them to make positive change. We now have a joined-up service provision between Worcestershire Children First and West Mercia Youth Justice Service that is driven by clear protocols and solid working practice/expectations, co-located staff (such as the Speech and Language Therapist) and a tangible commitment to the young people of Worcestershire.”
The Quality Mark is awarded for three years, after which a shorter verification process secures an extension.