Justice Minister David Ford and Education Minister John O’Dowd have agreed education provision for young people detained in custody will transfer to the Education Authority from May 2016.
Following on from an extensive joint work programme by their Departments, these new arrangements will see the education centre within Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre in Bangor becoming an Education Authority operated EOTAS (Education Other Than At School) setting; a move which will significantly enhance the education opportunities for young people in custody.
The Ministers have agreed that a full transfer should be completed by May 2016 to tie in with the timescale for the Executive’s programme to restructure the NI Departments. Ahead of this, the Classroom 2000 (C2K) network has been extended to Woodlands.
Commenting on the transfer of responsibility, Justice Minister David Ford said: “The formal recognition of the education centre within Woodlands as an EOTAS centre will ensure that young people in custody receive educational provision to the same standards, under the same legal basis, as any other young person being taught outside of a mainstream school.
“Access to the C2K network is early, tangible evidence of the commitment of the two Departments to this work. Improving the educational outcomes for these young people can only improve their future employment prospects and, ultimately, help to reduce the likelihood of re-offending.”
Education Minister John O’Dowd added: “I believe that this transfer is the correct approach to meeting the long-term educational needs of young people in custody. While education within Woodlands is already of a high standard, it is important that these young people can access the NI curriculum in the same way and to the same standards as their peers.
“This change will take a little while to fully achieve and so I am pleased that we have been able to provide immediate access for Woodlands to the C2K network and all the teaching resources it provides.