Young offenders 'not getting good enough education' in Dudley
Young offenders in Dudley are not being provided with good enough education to help them turn their lives around, an inspection has found.
Education provision for young people aged 10 to 18 who have been involved in crime was described as "poor" by a watchdog which said it was concerned offenders were not receiving the help they need to change their ways.
The Dudley Youth Offending Service (YOS) was rated as 'requires improvement' following the routine inspection by HM Inspectorate of Probation.
The service is run by the borough council and works with children and young adults who have either been sentenced by a court or are being dealt with outside the formal justice system.
Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “All children and young people are entitled to access education, employment or training.
"This is particularly important for individuals who have offended because it can support them to move away from further crime and give them the key to a better future.
“Our inspection found education provision is poor for children known to the YOS, and it has not had the strategic attention that it merits.
"A high number of young people known to the YOS are not in education or training, and children are offending at times when they should be in school.
"Some staff have resorted to teaching children who have been excluded because there are no suitable alternatives.”
Inspectors found key information about the YOS’s performance – including in relation to education – was not shared effectively with the management board. As a result, board members were unable to drive improvements in services for children and their families, the inspectorate said.
However, inspectors said staff were "well motivated" and "develop positive working relationships" with children and young people. Work to help prevent young people from further offending was found to be an area of strength.
Mr Russell said: “The YOS has some significant areas of good practice. However, we would like to see improvements in the quality of work to keep people safe. The YOS needs to assess, manage and review risks to keep children and young people safe and to prevent risk of harm to others.
“Dudley YOS has the potential to improve its performance and secure a ‘Good’ rating in the future. I hope the five recommendations in our report will assist the service to build on its strengths and focus on the areas for improvement.”
Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children’s services at Dudley Council, said: “The Dudley Youth Offending Service was visited by the Inspectorate of Probation during the spring and we welcome today’s report.
“The report reflects our tireless work to make important improvements to our youth offending service and praises the motivation and understanding of our staff.
“However, we fully accept the report’s overall findings that we require further improvement and our focus remains upon working closely with all partners and stakeholders to ensure we share information and increase effectiveness and efficiency across the service.
“We will now ensure the recommendations of the report are incorporated into our strategic plans and can assure parents and young people that we will continue to work together to secure the best possible outcomes.”