NI: Responsibility for educating NI children in custody to transfer to Education Authority
Responsibility for education provision for Northern Ireland’s young people in custody will transfer from the Department of Justice to the Education Authority from May 2016.
An agreement between Justice Minister David Ford and Education Minister John O’Dowd will see the education centre within Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre in Bangor become an Education Authority-operated “EOTAS” facility.
The EOTAS - Education Other Than At School - status will “significantly enhance” the education opportunities for young people in custody, they said.
The ministers agreed that a full transfer of responsibility should be completed by May 2016 to tie in with the timescale for the Northern Ireland Executive’s programme to restructure the NI Departments.
Ahead of this, the Classroom 2000 (C2K) network has been extended to Woodlands.
Mr 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.”
Mr 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.”