Congratulations to Milton Keynes Area Partnership for attaining Youth Justice SEND Quality Lead Redesignation with a Child First Commendation
In 2016, Milton Keynes was one of the first area partnerships to embrace the Youth Justice SEND Quality Assurance framework. It was used assiduously to identify weaker areas of practice, so much so that by February 2018, the partnership attained Quality Lead status at the first time of asking. Even then, their total commitment to children with SEND entering youth justice pathways was witnessed by the fact that no child in custody had an EHCP, or significant unmet needs!
Practice has improved markedly since then.
Diz Minnitt, operational lead at Milton Keynes YOT since 2001, has been a pioneer within youth justice in the area of special education needs in the youth justice system. He has taken national leadership on the impact speech language and communication needs across the country, and for the past two decades has been a tireless advocate for SaLT (Speech and Language Therapist) provision within co-located teams.
It comes as no surprise that his team performs highly, not only in identifying children with SEN, but in follow-up support, diversion, positive ETE destinations, working with magistrates and securing low reoffending rates, even through the turbulence and challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the past five years, Milton Keynes Area Partnership has taken a step further down the “tributaries” that feed the youth justice system, leading to one of the most effective Child First partnership interventions in the country, the NHS-England funded PRRE (Promoting Reintegration and Reducing Exclusions) initiative sitting within an overarching (and highly effective) diversion and prevention ESP (Early Support Project) framework.
The premise driving this initiative is that many children who end up with multiple suspensions and permanent exclusions have hidden speech language and communication needs. The collision between SEND and youth justice has long been known, but if resource could be deployed in such a way that drives early intervention and early help, perhaps children could be diverted away from a fragmented education experience that is often associated with youth justice pathways.
- The PRRE project offers primary, secondary and further education settings in Milton Keynes, free Speech and Language Therapy provision in order to identify any additional needs for those young people identified by the school as being at the greatest risk of school exclusions and managed moves to alternative provisions.
- The model involves offering assessments to settings and building on staff knowledge and confidence to address SLCN and other frequently associated needs via free SLCN / SEND training which is delivered by our Speech and Language Therapists and Senior Specialist Educational Psychologist who is attached to Milton Keynes YOT.
- Following the completion of a referral form, they undertake a comprehensive Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) assessment using a range of formal and inform assessments.
- A full assessment report is provided to the education setting and further consultation often takes place between school staff and a Speech and Language Therapist. The report details a summary of need and suggest recommendations and resources to school staff.
- Although the service is commissioned through the YOT, there is no reference to the leadership and management of this initiative in reports and provision thereby reducing the risk of labelling or stigmatisation.
The results are astonishing.
It has been found that 89% of children referred through the Diversion and Prevention process had Speech Language and Communication Needs!
Within the secondary schools PRRE offer, there was a 22% reduction in the number of fixed-term exclusions young people received (pre-pandemic analysis- the latest results are due out soon): 64% of children did not receive a further fixed-term exclusion.
The reoffending rate of children supported by the ESP project is 3.3%, compared to national statistics of 32%!
Milton Keynes Area Partnership is leading the way in showing how Youth Offending Services can work effectively with schools and other statutory services to reduce exclusion, offending and reoffending, through the intelligent and joined-up use of resources.
Well done Milton Keynes!