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Special Educational Needs: Young Offenders

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his most recent estimate is of the proportion of young offenders who have special educational needs; and what educational provision is available to such young offenders. (301633)

Research suggests that 15 per cent. of young offenders in custody have statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN). This is compared with 2.8 per cent. of the general school population.

The education providers in HM Prison Service Young Offenders Institutions (YOIs) are required to identify the special educational needs of young people and provide appropriate provision for them. The providers are contractually required to provide learning support in the classroom, as separate provision, or on a one-to-one basis as required. Providers are required to make available this additional support through both Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) and also Learning Support Assistants (LSAs).

Data provided to the Learning and Skills Council indicate that for the academic year August 2008 to July 2009, there were 2,932 referrals to SENCOs for 15 to 17-year-olds within Prison Service Young Offender Institutions.

The Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, which received Royal Assent on 12 November, contains new provisions to make local authorities responsible for education in youth custody. This includes new duties on local authorities to ensure that appropriate provision is made for young people with SEN. This will help ensure that young people in custody have access to comparable support to which they could expect in community settings.