SEND Project

Supporting youth offending teams

Supporting youth offending teams, the youth secure estate and local authorities effectively to identify and meet young offenders’ Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

The Youth Justice SEND Project brings together the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies (MCYS), Achievement for All (AfA) and the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) to form a powerful partnership to transform outcomes for young people who offend, (or are at risk of offending), and who have special educational needs, through supporting professionals to bring about a culture and behaviour change around effective SEND joint working.

What is the need?

All children and young people in the youth justice system are vulnerable by virtue of their age and developmental immaturity. High numbers of children and young people who come to the attention of youth justice services also have complex support needs, low levels of educational attainment and far more unmet health needs than their peers. SEND is often undiagnosed, with many in this vulnerable group not receiving the support and provision they need to achieve positive change.

In recent years, the custodial population has fallen, with the number of children and young people in custody now standing at just below 1000. This reduced population size presents a real opportunity to better understand SEND in these young people and upskill the professionals who work to support them.

How will we achieve this?

  1. By building the knowledge and understanding the need: The project team will conduct in-depth research including interviews with young people, their families, surveys with lead professionals from within the secure estate and beyond to explore their needs.

  2. By building a community of practice: The project will establish a nationwide community of practice, using the extensive networking capacity at the heart of the youth justice system to connect all professionals who work within and beyond the secure estate.  These will include LA SEN Teams, Youth Offending Teams, education providers in the secure estate, governors, managers and staff in the secure estate responsible for education; CAMHS and health commissioners and local providers, and social care professionals.

  3. By training the workforce and disseminating evidence-based good practice: The project will develop a SEND training programme to include 10 regional workshop events as well as an on-line learning community – the Youth Justice SEND Bubble - providing access to SEND training and information to professionals who work with children and young people in the youth justice system.


The Youth Justice SEND Programme is funded by the Department for Education and builds collaboratively upon the pioneering work of both the Council for Disabled Children and Sheffield Futures as part of their DfE funded work to support children and young people with send in custody 2015-2016.