Achievement for All will put 50 Youth Offending Teams and their Local Authority partners in the spotlight in June in celebration of their outstanding work to secure better outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the youth justice system.

Participating area teams across the UK will come together on the 6th June in Rugby to receive their awards. Teams in Birmingham, Brent, Cheshire East, Islington, Lancashire, Salford, Somerset, Kirklees, Bedford and Bedfordshire, Southampton, Slough and Wiltshire will receive Quality Mark status while teams in Buckinghamshire, County Durham, Milton Keynes, Nottinghamshire, Sheffield, Southwark, Staffordshire, Stockton-on-Tees, Warwickshire, and West Berkshire will receive Quality Lead status.

The two-year project, which was created to help illuminate the distinct problems that many young people with SEND in the youth justice system face, was sponsored by Department for Education (DfE) and led by Achievement for All (AfA), working in close partnership with the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) and researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

The team at AfA, AYM and MMU identified and shared best practice from across the country, addressed complex needs and created a set of quality standards for all participating area partnerships to aspire to – Quality Mark and Quality Lead status. 

Quality Mark status was created to recognise the development of relationships, networks, protocols, policy and practice to support children and young people with SEND in the youth justice system while Quality Lead status was created to recognise widespread embedded and sustained practice supported by innovative ideas that can be shared with other partnerships to stimulate creative thinking and improvement.

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.”

Achievement for All and the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers will continue to push forward this improvement work beyond the projects conclusion in March 2018.

Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO, Achievement for All said: “We have been delighted to engage with the DfE, AYM, MMU in this extremely worthwhile project. Our aim is to continue supporting youth justice partnerships after the contract expires, which aligns with our mission to support all children and young people regardless of their background, challenge or need. We will continue to engage with all 54 areas where we have formed a partnership, beyond which, there are a further 80 areas across the country where we will aim to support young people with complex needs to have their life outcomes transformed.”

Area partnerships working towards attaining Quality Mark or Quality Lead standards in the next 12 months are Bath and North East Somerset, Bradford, Bristol, Bromley, Calderdale, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hackney, Manchester, Northamptonshire, Nottingham City, Richmond and Kingston, Sandwell, Solihull, Somerset, St Helens, Stockport, Barking and Dagenham, Camden, Haringey, Hillingdon, Knowsley, Redbridge, Norfolk, Oldham, Solihull, Suffolk, Surrey, Walsall and West Mercia (Shropshire, Telford, Worcestershire and Hereford).