A few years back I was lucky enough to visit a prison to see how offenders were able to improve their basic skills and confidence. The approach was very simple. It started with an egg.
There were a few others ingredients too, however cookery classes made it possible to deliver literacy, numeracy and social skills all at the same time. I guess there is a quiet sense of satisfaction to be had from working through a recipe, measuring ingredients and cooperating with the instructor to produce a good quality result.
It is naïve to think greater confidence in itself reduces re-offending rates, but it may play an important part in opening offenders’ eyes to possibilities, beyond their familiar offending behaviour.
I got to thinking about the relationship between confidence, basic skills, and people who are in custody as a result of the latest report from the Centre for Social Justice www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk The CSJ believes that the English justice system is failing to educate young offenders. Edward Boyd, the Centre’s deputy policy director says:
“The youth justice system is being treated as a dumping ground for youngsters that no one knows how to help. Education is one of the best ways of reducing reoffending – but Youth Offenders’ Institutions are failing to do this”.
Hopefully reports on the CSJ’s findings will shine the spotlight on the role of Secure College’s. More effective learning there will help young offenders make wiser life choices. That in turn will give them greater scope to identify what it is they legitimately want, and what constructive actions they will take to take to get it. Which may just be good news, for the young people, and for the rest of society.
- Teachers sought for youth prisons (standard.co.uk)