Oasis is working with the Ministry of Justice to create the UK’s first secure school, a replacement for youth jail, in the biggest move forward in youth justice in living memory.
Our focus will be on restoration and re-integration into society. We will develop a safe environment with a holistic and integrated approach to education, care and health which will improve the life chances of some of the country’s most vulnerable young people.
While fewer children are now entering youth custody than ever before, those who are detained are more vulnerable, have complex needs and behavioural challenges.
As with all Oasis Hubs, our vision for Oasis Restore is to create a place of care where every child is given an opportunity to thrive.
Many of our students will have lived through trauma and loss; our aim therefore is to address some of the consequences of those experiences by providing therapeutic, bespoke support and pathways for successful transition onwards.
Our therapeutic practice will be essential to achieving this vision, and so we will use a psychologically informed approach to caring for our students.
Building trusting relationships
Our work will be guided and supported by theories that help us understand how the human brain develops, and what effect experiences of trauma and threat have on children’s development.
Most importantly, all our work will be centred on what we know about secure emotional attachments – building trusting relationships between our staff and young people will be critical to creating a safe, caring environment.
In all that we do in Oasis Restore, our mission is not just to deliver an innovative education offer but to develop a healthy sense of identity and a sense of purpose that improves our students’ social cognition and emotional intelligence which will support them as they go forward in life..
The majority of our students will not have enjoyed the traditional classroom setting, so our goal is to tap into their curiosity and talents to develop skills for life and learning while providing them with training or qualifications in areas in which they have interest.
We want to focus on what is strong, not what has gone wrong. Oasis Restore will offer our students:
- A safe, holistic environment with inter-disciplinary care
- A therapeutic model of care with a growth mind-set
- An ambitious education offer
- Pathways for transition into the community from day one
From the very first day of their stay at Oasis Restore, we will work with each of our students to prepare them to move back into the community or into the wider custodial estate.
The secure school policy gives providers like Oasis the opportunity to work with this cohort of children, to interrupt the pattern of system failure and take them off the persistent exclusion route that leads to re-offending.
Rev Steve Chalke, Founder of Oasis
Oasis Restore will be serving some of the most vulnerable children (aged 12-17 years) in the UK who present with high risk and high harm behaviours.
These behaviours stem from a number of inter-related factors that usually involve high levels of trauma, vulnerability and threat which are all exacerbated by the reality of poverty and a sense of personal hopelessness.
Challenges such as not being able to control emotions or understand oneself or others, plus living with neuro-developmental disorders, are common amongst young people within the criminal justice system. We also know that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) children, specifically boys, are over-represented compared to the general population.
Addressing all of these issues will be at the forefront of our work.
Young people placed into a secure school will need to embrace the consequences of their criminal behaviour. However, our job is to listen and understand the stories behind the behaviours. In turn, this will help us to formulate integrated care plans that meet students’ individual needs, challenge negative habitual behaviours and reduce the risk of future harm.
We recognise the challenges ahead of us and will need leaders who are both grounded in the reality of the obstacles we are likely to face, whilst being relentlessly aspirational about the possibilities for achieving excellence.
“ Even before the Covid lockdown, 1 in 25 teenagers in England were falling through gaps in the school or social services systems.
This puts them at increased risk of unemployment or of exploitation by gangs and organised criminals.”
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner.