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Reaction to the Queen's Speech: we need bold action and clear metrics to measure success of Life Chances Strategy

By Philippa Stroud

Listening to the Queen's Speech was a moment I will always remember. 

As The Queen spoke the words, 'My Government will use the opportunity of a strengthening economy to increase the Life Chances of the most disadvantaged,' I thought back to all the people we had met up and down the country in our poorest communities saying, 'can’t you do something to change things for the next generation.'

I thought of a woman on a Glasgow housing estate who had asked us to provide proper rehabilitation for addicts. I thought of the teenager who had been in and out of a youth offending institution internally screaming 'I just want to know who my father is,' and I thought of the children longing for a 'forever family' to know that the foster parents they are with can, at last, adopt them.

This Queen's Speech has the potential to make this happen and the CSJ welcomes it whole heartedly.

The Life Chances agenda needs to be measured properly

However as I listened to the speech I was also filled with memories of being in Government and how hard it is to actually drive reform. 

I urge the Government to have a laser like focus and utter determination not to see our disadvantaged communities sold short.

As I have said before in this column, the approach will be strong if it matches the scale of the challenge we are facing with the boldness of the solutions and appropriate accountability to drive this life changing agenda forward.

We need bold solutions to challenging problems and we need robust metrics that call us to account for how we care for vulnerable people – then we can say we have delivered 'an all-out assault' on poverty.

The Centre for Social Justice published a set of Life Chance metrics earlier this year. To see these proposed metrics click here:

Michael Gove and Dame Sally Coates launch 'Unlocking potential: a review of education in prison' at the Centre for Social Justice

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By Frank Young

Speaking at a packed Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) event on Thursday, Dame Sally Coates launched her Review into Prisoner Education and brought the Government’s Life Chances agenda to the very people who arguably need it the most.

Whilst the Queen's Speech attracted the mid-week gaze of the media, the Dame Sally Coates Review fleshes out the Government's commitment to rehabilitation with a series of practical steps to improve education in prisons. 

Putting education at the heart of the prison experience:

At the heart of the Review are plans to give prison Governors full autonomy to turn prisons into centres of educational excellence, equipping prisoners with the skills to find long term, meaningful employment on release. Almost two thirds (60%) of prisoners currently leave prison without a job or some form of education or training course. 

Dame Sally has established a framework for ensuring our prisons will be measured on how successful they are in providing every prisoner with a Personal Learning Plan, improving the life chances of thousands of prisoners and reducing the likelihood that they return to crime.

In an eye-catching announcement, Dame Sally also announced a new fast-track training scheme to attract top-quality graduates into the prison system – helping inspire learners and supporting prisons to deliver high-quality education.

Transforming lives:

Dame Sally Coates has been bold in her ambition to ensure that life transformation is at the heart of her plans.

This Review marks an important milestone in the Government’s ambition for ‘social renewal’.

To read Philippa Stroud's article on the Dame Sally Coates Review on Conservativehome.com click here:

To read the Dame Sally Coates Review: 'Unlocking potential: a review of education in prison' click here: 

Roundtable on Children in Care and Apprenticeships

By Oenone Scott

Last week the CSJ and the Office of the Children's Commissioner held a roundtable looking at the issue of  looked after children moving from care into vocational training and apprenticeships. 

The Prime Minister put the spotlight on this issue with the promise of a Government Bill announced in the Queen's Speech. 

Looked after children suffer from some of the worst ‘life chance’ outcomes of any group. 41% of looked after children leaving care fail to find work, education or training as they reach adulthood. 

As the Prime Minister said in a Sunday Times article, 'it is simply not good enough for those in the care of the state to be so let down'. 

The importance of strong relationships:

The CSJ heard that whilst looked after children sometimes had up to seven professionals responsible for their care, many often struggled to engage with professional support and schemes designed to assist in the transition out of care and into full-time work. 

During the roundtable, attendees emphasised the importance of strong relationships in supporting young people transition from care. 

To address this the Government has suggested it will put a duty on local authorities to support care leavers into their mid-twenties as part of the Care Leavers Covenant. The CSJ welcomes the Government's commitment to do more to help care leavers bridge the gap between childhood and adult life. 

In our post-roundtable report the CSJ will look carefully at the quality of adult relationships between children and support professionals in unlocking better outcomes.