- Resources and modules aim to help professionals better understand the needs of young people with additional needs, and other professionals that work with the youth justice system
- There are three modules made up of different units, as well as links to resources produced by government departments
In 2014, Achievement for All launched The Bubble, an online learning platform for staff in schools and pupil referral units, through funding from the Department for Education.
The platform is part of Achievement for All's schools programme, which sees coaches support schools with professional development to help close the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers. The Bubble acts as a free 24-hour online training platform made up of a bank of resources, tools and knowledge for teachers and other school staff.
To develop this further, in November 2016 it launched a youth justice element for The Bubble, in partnership with the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers and Manchester Metropolitan University, with funding from the DfE.
The youth justice element was designed so professionals working in the youth justice system can improve practice in a bid to reduce offending by young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who are in custody or at risk of offending, and help improve their educational outcomes. DfE data from 2011 shows 18 per cent of young people in custody have a special educational need, and yet these issues are sometimes overlooked by youth justice services.
Achievement for All runs 11 workshops for youth justice staff across the country. Through this, professionals are given login codes to enable them to use The Bubble.
"Whether people come to the workshops or not we have now distributed codes to every professional on that list to access The Bubble," says Marius Frank, Bubble lead and materials director at Achievement for All.
The modules and resources on The Bubble are written to help professionals in the youth justice system to better understand the needs of young people with SEND, and for other professionals who come into contact with the youth justice system on a daily basis, to understand its intricacies and complexities.
Modules include: SEND reform and the youth justice system; securing better outcomes for young people with SEND; and working effectively in partnership. Each module is made up of different units.
The first unit of the SEND reform module focuses on what professionals "should know", as well as key aspects of SEND reform and understanding complex needs.
The second unit aims to get professionals to put their learning into practice by looking at the need for effective partnership working and how new duties are used in daily practice.
They can also gain access to further reading and links to supporting documents that have been produced by different government departments that offers advice on meeting legislative requirements and how to deliver best practice.
The securing better outcomes module begins by getting professionals to do a unit on listening to young people with SEND, and includes topics such as communicating with vulnerable and challenging young people, and creative ways of engaging with young people who have SEND.
In addition, a unit around understanding young people with SEND teaches about screening, assessment, identification and diagnosis, neurodevelopmental and spectrum disorders, and speech, language and communication needs.
There are also areas on mental health and wellbeing issues, self-esteem and bullying.
Frank says that 1,500 frontline professionals in the youth justice system and in health and social care have signed up to gain access to the resources so far - beating the target set by the DfE of 600.
"It is a very focused resource," he explains. "Everything you see is to raise standards of achievement."
The final module, working effectively in partnership, aims to celebrate effective practice. It provides case studies and good ideas, and has recommendations for applying new learning to secure better outcomes for young people with SEND.
The Youth Justice SEND Bubble has only been operating a few months, so there is no outcomes data as yet. However, Frank says that it is hoped professionals in the youth justice system will become more confident in supporting young people with SEND.
Achievement for All also hopes that the resources will help professionals and their teams become "more joined up", and that young people entering the criminal justice system are better supported before their case goes to court.
"We are also spreading good practice and this is all about helping young people who are disadvantaged," he adds.
"The costs to society of young people whose needs have not been met over the course of their life can be considerable.
"If you get intervention in at the right time and at the right place then it can work."
This article is part of CYP Now's special report on special educational needs and disabilities. Click here for more