Young offenders could serve sentences in secure free schools instead of prisons

The TES is reporting that prisons for young offenders could be turned into “high-quality” free schools under plans being considered by the government,  

The radical overhaul of youth custody would involve offenders serving their sentences in “secure schools” instead of young offender institutions (YOIs).

The plan is based on recommendations from a review of youth justice, ordered by the government last year, and carried out by Charlie Taylor, the former chief executive of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).

The findings from Mr Taylor, a former headteacher who left the NCTL in August last year, suggest that the system would be more effective in rehabilitating young people if education was placed at its heart.

There are currently five YOIs and three secure training centres for young people in England and Wales.

Under the proposals, these would be replaced by secure schools that would help children to master the basics in English and maths and provide high-quality vocational education “in a more therapeutic environment”.

Young people would stay at them full-time for the duration of their sentence…

Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed the government will explore using processes for establishing free schools to set up secure academies for young offenders.

He said: “In short, this will mean turning existing young offender institutions (YOIs) into what will effectively be high-quality schools that will demand the highest standards…”

More at: Young offenders could serve sentences in secure free schools instead of prisons


Is there merit in the idea of replacing prisons for young offenders into secure schools with a greater emphasis on education?

Would it be a meaningful difference?

Please give us your feedback and arguments for or against the idea in the comments or via Twitter…


Secure schools rather than prisons for young offenders - good idea?

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  1. HMStack

    SchoolsImprove An interesting move & would seem, on the face of it, a step in the right direction, prioritising education over punishment.

  2. Young Offenders’ Institutions are for 18-21 year-olds.  Replacing them with ‘schools’ seems odd because YOI’s are for young adults not children.  In any case, YOIs are already obliged to provided education – why not increase that provision rather than spend money on new ‘free YOIs’?

  3. Nairb1

    I suppose this links seamlessly with Teresa May’s proposal that local Police and Crime Commissioners should set up free schools for pupils proving to be challenging in school. I wonder if the businesses poised to make a lot of money out of forced academisation have started to notice that some pupils are more expensive than others. A quick word in the ear of the PM and the problem is sorted.

  4. HMStack SchoolsImprove Education is already provided in YOIs and SCHs.  It’s not necessary to hand the running of these over to charitable trusts to improve education in these institutions.  But the charitable trusts could out-source the running of these ‘free YOIs’ to for-profit companies. These could include G4S who have been exposed acting unacceptably at Medway SCH.  Gove, however, says G4S prisons etc will not be placed in ‘special measures’.

  5. wasateacher

    On the face of it, having young offenders in places which have a focus on suitable education rather than punishment is a good idea.  The fundamental flaw in this proposal is the instability and unreliability of the “free” school project.  Already we have seen money being thrown at ‘free’ schools which have never opened or opened briefly and then closed.  If this idea were to work, it would have to provide security and stability for the young people, many of whom have had neither.

    Add to this, the very real danger that, as Janet says, G4S, etc, will be first in the queue to open such facilities, rather than those with kindlier intentions.

  6. wasateacher

    I can’t vote in your poll because my view would be affected by the type of school propose.  In principle it would be a good idea, but not when run by the equivalent of academy trusts or private companies.

Let us know what you think...