Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Ok – so good intentions but it has now been two weeks since my last blog. In my defence it was my birthday last week. Not that I was off partying – instead I was in Southport delivering a session at the Youth Justice Board Convention.

Sad thought it may be it was indeed a birthday treat. Delivered in conjunction with RCSLT the session launched ‘Sentence Trouble’ – a logo fest of a publication, developed by The Communication Trust with support from too may partners to list without offending someone by missing them off. Remember I am on a word count limit!

My birthday was doubly blessed by a present from Ed Balls. Much as I would love to say that the Secretary of State sent me a personal card and thoughtful gift the truth is actually even more exciting. In the Lords last week the government announced that The Communication Trust will be funded to roll out screening and training to every setting within the secure estate and all YOTs.

This is great news and reflects the work that many have been doing to raise awareness of the disproportionate numbers of young people with SEN amongst those young people who offend. Jenny Talbot, Jane McKenzie, Diz Minnitt, Professor Karen Bryan, Professor John Rack – and so many more have led the way and I am delighted that they will all be informing the rollout of our 2010 programme.

Sentence Trouble (a project ably managed by the Trust’s Andrew Ball – who also won the internal competition to come up with the best name and, yes, I am still bitter about that) includes the sad but enlightening story of a young man given an ASBO which stated that he could not travel on a ‘motorised vehicle’. He had ridden an electric scooter not realising that this was what motorised meant. When you consider that the Home Secretary recently called for a greater focus on ensuring that those breaching anti-social behaviour orders be prosecuted the need for ensuring that a young person actually understands their ASBO becomes even clearer.

Copies of Sentence Trouble are now winging their way out to front line staff (I am assuming that there is no postal strike this week) and the Trust is gearing up for next steps.

And as for birthday presents Mr Secretary of State – I’ll forgive the lack of a card if next year you give me a three year funding contract!

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