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Education at Rainsbrook

Our director for education Fiona Williams on educating some of the most challenging young people in the UK
7129 20052015 G4S responds to Rainsbrook OFSTED report

Young people referred to secure training centres have a history of offending, can come from chaotic backgrounds and often have never engaged constructively with education before.  It’s our task as a training centre – as ultimately we’re here to train rather than simply act as a place of detention – to instil the skills they need to be in a better position to contribute positively to their communities when they leave our care.

This brings immense challenges and requires a dedicated, professional and tenacious group of care staff and teachers.  It also means we have to set realistic and achievable targets.  One seventeen-year-old who recently came to Rainsbrook had failed to attend school for the previous five years and by some measures, getting that person into the classroom in the first instance is a huge success for our team.

Yet we aren’t content to simply get the trainees we look after into the classroom.  Our centre is geared towards engaging young people and developing them with education, training and skills to ensure they have the basic level of education that many parents take for granted that their children will receive at school.  Young people at Rainsbrook are in school all day, every day.  This can and does deliver results; on average in 2014 for every month spent in education at Rainsbrook, two and a half months was added to an individual’s reading age.  In spelling and maths the picture is the same, 66 per cent of young people leaving us had a spelling age of 13 years or above, compared with 51 per cent on admission and 24 per cent of those leaving had a maths age of 13 or above, compared with 8 per cent on admission. 

Any successful school has to work with their local community and Rainsbrook is no different.  We have teachers trained and working with the Connexions careers advice service and we have also developed our links with the famous Rugby school close by.  This has brought tremendous opportunities to young people we look after to look at education with a completely different perspective from that they had before. In 2014, all this work led to young people at Rainsbrook achieving almost 1,900 qualifications – an impressive achievement when you consider that the average length of stay last year was just 11 weeks. 

Education is at the heart of Rainsbrook and although young people are with us because the courts have deemed them a risk to society, our regime is driven by what they can achieve if they make more positive choices and engage with what we have to offer.  We aren’t always successful and although our reoffending rate is lower than average – 40 per cent against 68 per cent nationally – we still want to do more to bring that down.  We firmly believe that the only way to do this is to offer young people the chance to build their confidence and self-esteem so that they truly believe they are able to achieve.  Our teachers and care staff are dedicated to this mission and I am proud of the innovative and creative approach they bring to their work while working with some of the most challenging children anywhere in the country.

Fiona Williams is Director of Education for G4S Children’s Services.  Fiona has 24 years’ experience working in secondary school education and has worked in secure training centres for more than ten years.  In 2011, she received a Butler Trust Award for outstanding leadership and is passionate about improving the education and life chances of vulnerable young people both inside and outside custodial settings.