At Oakhill, we are committed to supporting our young people adjust to their new surroundings and guide them through their custodial journey, hopefully leading to a more positive outcome for the future.
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HOW OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SUPPORTED AT OAKHILL, CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW
ARRIVAL & INDUCTION
What to expect upon arrival
Young people arriving at Oakhill are first booked in at reception and then taken into our admissions suite. Here, the young person is greeted by our admission staff and given a warm welcome and is then allowed to call an approved contact.
When all admission processes have been completed, the young person is shown a ‘Welcome to Oakhill’ DVD, which will give the young person an insight of what to expect at the centre. Following this, the young person is then taken to the induction unit, where they will stay for the first 72 hours.
THE INDUCTION PROCESS
For many young people, this is their first time in custody and this is often a very anxious and scary time for them, so the purpose of our induction process is to help them gently settle in and make sure that the first few days are used to become familiar with the centre’s routines and expectations.
The first thing to happen is a meal is offered upon arrival. They are then taken through the facilities in their room, i.e., how the shower works etc. and given a life skills pack which they complete with the support of a member of staff. Completing this pack gives us a better understanding of the young person’s life skill knowledge.
There is also a welcome pack inside their room, which gives all sorts of information about the centre. Staff will guide the young person through this and explain the centre routines and expectations, as well as details about the Earned Incentive Scheme (EIS), where young people, through positive behaviour can earn rewards and extra privileges. The young person’s anxiety levels may be high and therefore, all new admissions are placed on five minute observations to make sure they are settling in OK.
Some of the routines will start the very next morning. The young person is woken up by staff and asked to follow the morning routine of self-care, cleaning their room and getting breakfast ready. This is followed by completing a chore on the unit. After this is complete, a member of the education team will arrive to conduct an education assessment. A member of the substance misuse team will also visit the young person for an assessment to be completed.
Following the education assessment and after lunch, the young person will then attend education at the Acorn Education Centre at Oakhill to kickstart their education programme.
Throughout the induction, the young person is supported by staff and by peer mentors (other young people) to settle in. They are encouraged to call families/carers, attend extra activities and attend the dining hall at dinner time.
At the end of the induction period (72 hours), staff will meet to discuss and carefully consider which residential unit is best placed for the young person. Once this has been decided, the young person will move to a new room on the unit they will then reside.
The role of the safeguarding team is to manage the safeguarding procedures and policies within the centre. The team also ensures that the establishment complies with its duties under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004.
The team is responsible for the centre’s child safeguarding policy, which details how we manage all allegations regarding child protection, collaborate with external agencies and put children at the forefront of our safeguarding work.
We hold ‘quarterly safeguarding forums’ with our external partners, chaired by the head of safeguarding and attended by:
- Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)*
- Milton Keynes Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO)
- Thames Valley Police Child Abuse Investigation Unit (CAIU)
- Youth Custody Service (YCS)
- Oakhill’s Director
This allows transparency and ensures oversight of all work, in place to support and safeguard young people. During this meeting, statistical data is analysed to identify any trends and then explore actions to enable better outcomes for children.
*The MASH, brings together professionals from partner agencies to deal with safeguarding concerns, where someone is concerned about the safety or wellbeing of a child. Information from partner agencies is collated within the MASH to assess risk and decide what action to take. The MASH in Milton Keynes is made up of representatives from Milton Keynes Councils Children’s Services, Thames Valley Police and Health. The MASH also has close links with housing and youth offending in Milton Keynes.
The safeguarding team aims to ensure that all staff working in the centre are aware of their professional obligation to raise concerns about the conduct of colleagues or managers; and have clear procedures and support systems in place for dealing with expressions of concern about other staff or carers. Oakhill STC strives to provide an environment where staff feel confident and able to challenge unprofessional and unacceptable behaviour from their colleagues, and are comfortable to discuss their concerns confidentially with management when required. Oakhill’s culture aims to be one of openness, honesty and integrity and staff are supported to do this through our Child Safeguarding Policy, Senior Management and our G4S Whistleblowing Policy.
By writing and delivering training, the safeguarding team ensures that all staff are aware of their duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. All staff are required to complete mandatory safeguarding training, which includes familiarisation with their responsibilities for child protection and the centre’s policies and procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child’s safety or welfare.
New members of residential staff must complete an eight week Initial Training Course (ITC) designed to provide them with the techniques, knowledge and skills required to undertake their duties within Oakhill STC. This includes mandatory safeguarding training and contextual safeguarding training on Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE).
Experienced Staff receive annual safeguarding training focused on the work with our external partners and learning from serious case reviews (SCRs), local learning reviews and national learning reviews. The focus from SCRs in 2020 has been on exploitation, vulnerabilities and self-harm and suicide in a custodial setting.
‘Voice of the Child’
We’re aware that young people may find it difficult to express their worries and problems or challenge decisions made about them. The safeguarding team also manages the complaints and requests process to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. The complaints policy is written to enable young people to make their views known. Complaints will be investigated by the Secure Training Centre staff, and an outcome to this provided within required timescales:
- Verbal complaints – 1 week
- Written complaints – 2 weeks
- Appeal – 3 weeks
- Transfer request – 1 week
Representations are treated confidentially and are investigated as thoroughly and speedily as reasonably practicable. If dissatisfied with the response from the original investigation, the young person, parent/carer or visitor has a right to appeal to the Director, Deputy Director or Head of Department.
Following the appeal, young people at the centre also have the ability to further appeal the complaint with the Youth Custody Service (YCS) or Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO).
The safeguarding team also manages the reporting of discriminatory behaviours by staff or young people. The safeguarding team supports other teams within the centre to ensure discriminatory attitudes by staff or young people are raised, challenged, intervention provided or referrals are made to Thames Valley Police where a crime may have been committed.
Oakhill Safeguarding Teams External Partners:
- Milton Keynes MASH
- Milton Keynes LADO
- Thames Valley Police
- G4S Healthcare
- Youth Custody Service
- Barnardos (Advocacy Service Provider)
- Youth Offending Teams
- Young Peoples (Home) Local Authorities
To contact the Safeguarding Team:
Welcome to Acorn Education
Acorn Education is dedicated to the rehabilitation and education of all young people that come into our care at Oakhill. We endeavour to ensure that all of the young people have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skill set to prepare them for their future career and prospects.
We provide a broad curriculum that is aimed at expanding our young people’s outlook and providing a positive educational journey, whilst increasing their future employment chances.
We employ a range of strategies aimed at promoting engagement and accessibility, and through our Education Liaison Officer (ELO) we have the means of creating links with external stakeholders and education providers to provide some stability and focus for the trainee when they leave us.
Subjects & pathways available to the young people :
Our timetable consists of 25 hours of education per week, split into 5 lessons per day from 09:00 – 16:00 (with a two hour break to allow for lunch and telephone contact with professionals).
The subjects covered are:
- PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic)
- Hair and Beauty
- Food Technology
- (Coming Soon: Horticulture, Business, Design Technology)
Exams & qualifications:
At present all trainees are offered the opportunity to upskill their learning and knowledge. We offer a broad and differentiated exam base, ranging from entry level functional skills within the core subjects up to GCSE level. In addition, we offer Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications in our vocational areas, and currently use AQA, Pearson Edexcel, Interactive IQ and City and Guilds as our awarding bodies. We currently aim to ensure that each trainee will leave us with a minimum of two qualifications
We are continuously striving to adapt to the ever changing needs we experience from our trainees and take SEN support incredibly seriously at Oakhill. We employ learning support assistants who guide trainees through their initial few days within the centre, and are then present in lessons to offer additional support as well as targeted one to one. We are currently employing two SENCO’s for the department, with the aim of supporting the trainees who need the specialist support as well as liaising with parents / guardians and external stakeholders.
Events/visits from external speakers
There are a variety of professionals and companies who volunteer their time to speak with the young people; ranging from Army representatives, who visit to speak about their service and perform training activities with the young people, to local entrepreneurs, who are happy to mentor the young people in developing their business acumen. We try to host at least one guest speaker every two months, so that each young person will have an opportunity to meet a professional.
At our disposal within the department we have a variety of resources to aid the progression of the trainees within our care. Within our classroom we have newly fitted touch screen monitors that allow not only the standard lesson display, but also a large amount of interactive engagement between trainees and teachers. They also provide a stimulating visual and audio capability, aimed at assisting all learning styles.
Food Technology: our kitchen is fully kitted out with top of the range extractors, ovens and utensils. Here, young people are able to learn basic cooking skills, with the opportunity to stretch their ability with creating dishes from around the world. Young people can also attain the Food Hygiene Level 2 qualification, adding an additional string to their employment bow when they leave us.
Sports & Fitness: we have a range of sporting and fitness facilities. These include a full size, all weather football pitch, an outdoor basketball court and a fitness suit consisting of cardio, resistance machines as well as free weights. Our indoor sports hall is able to accommodate full scale football matches, basketball matches, badminton tournaments as well as tennis and table tennis. It also has a large climbing wall.
Hair & Beauty: we have a fully functioning salon for our hair & beauty course, with all the equipment and products you would expect to find in a salon, in addition to a theory and practice room with all the resources you would expect from any hair and beauty training provider.
Construction: Young people have use of a purpose built workshop with all the tools you would expect any carpenter or builder to have at their disposal. In addition, there is an outdoor area dedicated to allowing young people to practice their building skills, along with a painting and decorating room, which allows them to hone their domestic DIY skills. We also offer the opportunity for young people to undertake theory as part of their CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card, offering an additional employment option for when they leave.
Horticultural Course: we have a large allotment area as well as a large area for the planting of both flowers and vegetables alongside our large ‘poly tunnel’. We have all the tools required to create a floral masterpiece as well as grow our own vegetables that can be used later in our kitchen, providing young people with a wider understanding of food and the health benefits of home grown fresh food.
Rewards & Recognition
We believe it is important to recognise any positive steps that trainees take, whether it be within education or from a personal development point of view. Every two months we hold ‘celebrating success’ days wheretrainees are recognised for both their academic achievement, but also their personal outlooks and attitudes towards their peers and their future. We invite family or guardians to the events, as well as staff from across the site. Our dining facility produces a large buffet for the trainees and their guests.
We also recognise both individual and team efforts weekly.. Each trainee has the opportunity to be recognised as the ‘student of the week’. This accolade provides the trainee with a certificate as well as a shopping voucher for them to spend on items that are not always readily available within the establishment. Should a team be recognised for their efforts throughout the week within education, then they are awarded a team certificate and have the opportunity to purchase a “take away” meal!
Links to Enrichment
The enrichment team at Oakhill STC is responsible for ensuring that young people in our care at the centre are engaged in a wide range of purposeful and meaningful activities that have a positive impact on their lives and personal well-being. We also have a number of external partners who visit the centre to work and engage with our young people across a wide range of activities ranging from football and personal fitness with MK Dons Sports and Education Trust, to the creative arts of music and street art through external educators, Educreate.
Our young people also have the opportunity to be part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
The resettlement team is responsible for the case management and support of our young people throughout their time at the centre. The team operates in a similar way to the external Youth Offending Team (YOT), but is based at Oakhill.
The Resettlement Team
The overall focus of the team is to work with our young people (alongside the Youth Offending Team) to help them understand their sentence or remand time and offer support throughout this time to improve their chances of success when they are released from custody.
Every young person has a member of the resettlement team allocated to them, known as a ‘case worker’ and they work together with the Youth Offending Team (YOT), the solicitor, the social worker, plus any other professionals involved with the young person’s case, as well as the young person’s family support network. A member of the team meets with the young person as part of their induction process and talks them through how a case worker supports them through their time in custody.
Here are just some of the ways that the Resettlement Team supports our young people:
- Understanding their sentence/remand time,
- Communicating with professionals about the young people’s progress on their sentence plan,
- Completing interventions addressing some complex criminal behaviours and offences,
- Supporting contact and visits with your family/carers (where safe to do so),
- Helping young people seek education and accommodation for release through multi-disciplinary and partnership working,
- Advocating for the young people’s rights and entitlements
Events & Visitors
As part of the young people’s journey, the resettlement team organises special events and external visits as part of the interventions being used to complement the other areas of support.
Some of the events have included:
- Ride High
- Therapy Dogs
- Family Days
Family interventions & visiting:
Oakhill Secure Training Centre is a member of the wider G4S Prisons Family Interventions Team and committed to delivering G4S’s Optimising Prisoner Family Engagement Strategy.
The centre offers families various support mechanisms, such as emotional support, practical visiting support arrangements, relationship building and strengthening and helping families to understand and be a part of their child’s custodial journey as much as possible.
Oakhill also has access to a number of communication tools that help families to stay in touch with their children. These are:
- Purple Visits – video visual visiting experience
- Prisoner Voicemail
- Secure Payments
- Prisoner Families Helpline
THE SAFETY TEAM
The safety team consists of a number of specialist intervention teams that support the more complex issues that the young people in our care often have.
These teams are: Conflict Resolution, Anti Bullying, Enhanced Support, Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR), Substance Misuse and Psychology.
Our staff are committed and dedicated professionals, who treat all cases with absolute confidentiality.
You can find out more about each of our specialist intervention teams by clicking on the headings below:
- Enhanced Support Team
- Substance Misuse Team
- Conflict Resolution
What is MMPR?
The safety and wellbeing of our young people at Oakhill is paramount and as such all our Secure Care Officers (SCOs) must undergo initial and ongoing training, including full MMPR training.
“The behaviour management and restraint system, Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR), aims to provide secure estate staff with the ability to recognise young people’s behaviour, and use de-escalation and diversion strategies to minimise the use of restraint through the application of behaviour management techniques. It sets out a number of physical restraint techniques. The use of force on a young person must always be viewed as the last available option. The message within MMPR is clear – staff must assess all the available options to managing an incident (i.e. de-escalation techniques, verbal communication) prior to using restraint. Staff must be able to clearly demonstrate why restraint was necessary.”
Staff must complete an intensive training course when they first join Oakhill and becoming a licensed (or “badged”) Secure Care Officer is dependent on being assessed and passing this initial course. The Youth Custody Service will only issue a licence to a new officer when all areas of the initial training have been assessed and passed. The Secure Care Officers then receive ongoing training throughout the year, before attending their annual assessment course, which again, has to be passed in order for the Youth Custody Service to re-licence the officer for the following year.
Our MMPR Team here at Oakhill forms part of our safety team and it is their job to continually support, monitor and evaluate any use of force incidents that occur at the centre. Our officers wear body worn cameras and we have CCTV* across the site which is used in the process to audit and determine that correct procedures have been followed.
The enhanced support team
The enhanced support team focuses on the most vulnerable and complex young people within in our care and have oversight of the Suicide & Self Harm (SASH) process.
Young people with more complex needs, requiring that extra support are referred to the team. The team then meets and assesses the young person in order to identify their needs, whether that’s around self-harm, social communication needs, behavioural well-being, or specific learning needs.
The purpose of the team is to look at the needs of the individual young person and fully use the interventions on offer within the centre. By looking at the young person’s history together with using our assessment tool (called “Do-It Profiler”) and interview techniques, not only can we better understand them as a person, but also their needs.
The team concentrates on reflective practice; helping the young person to look at their actions and understand the negative impact of their behaviour and then supporting them in addressing and facing up to it.
This doesn’t mean, for example, support in order to immediately stop any self-harming. Instead, looking to understand why the young person feels the need to self-harm by identifying the triggers and organising the appropriate support in order to help the young person manage them. When triggers are identified, the team then works closely with the Secure Care Officers (SCOs), who spend most of their day with the young people and therefore best placed to offer support and guidance.
The substance misuse team
The Young Person’s Substance Misuse Service (YPSMS) delivers a range of Targeted and Psychosocial Interventions according to the young person’s need. A young person’s intervention needs are determined through completion of the Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool (CHAT) and evidence available prior to admission into the centre.
Young People who report use of substances can agree to a care plan that best meets their needs.
The substance misuse team begins planning for release or transfer as early as possible. When a young person is nearing release or transfer to another establishment, and ongoing support for drug or alcohol use is required, a release plan or transfer plan will be developed and shared with the receiving service by way of a coordinated handover. We aim for proactive liaison and communication with the substance misuse team in the community or the receiving establishment with copies of assessments, care plans and other relevant documents being shared prior to transfer/release.
The YPSMS service has overarching outcomes that align with the outcomes for children and young people’s substance misuse services in the community:
1. Reduction in the harm caused from the use of alcohol, smoking, and drugs by children and young people
2. Improvement in the health, social and family functioning of children and young people
We work collaboratively with external agencies to deliver programmes to our young people, below are 2 examples:
“Upskill U 360” is the social enterprise arm of Upskill U Business which provides a range of intervention services and programmes for disaffected young people at risk. Much of their work involves working with young people at the high end of the risk spectrum including those involved in gangs, knife crime, serious youth violence, and child exploitation.
Upskill U has developed and modified the Exodus Serious Youth Violence and Child Crime Exploitation Programme targeting residents of Oakhill who have either been involved in or are at risk of involvement in SYV and CCE; this includes young people directly involved or affected by gangs, on the periphery of gangs, known to have been exploited by peers, periods missing, involvement in county lines/ drug dealing, involved in joint enterprise/ group related behaviours. It is a 12 week group work programme delivered alongside YPSMS. Targeted 2:1 Therapeutic Support is delivered alongside the programme. The support is tailored around the needs of the individual but the sessions incorporate elements of the core programme, specific mentoring exercises/activities and general developmental work on attitudinal change.
The Ride High Equestrian Centre is a unique social enterprise, situated in the heart of the Milton Keynes. Ride High uses horses to transform the lives of disadvantaged children who may be suicidal or self-harming, living in poverty, caring for a parent or siblings, or living in environments dominated by drugs, alcohol or family breakdown. Ride High works with young people to build confidence, self-esteem, sense of achievement and emotional resilience to provide individuals with a more positive destination in life. It is a means of introducing participants to alternative methods of boosting adrenaline and experiencing ‘natural highs’ by experiencing the thrill of working with horses and building connections with half-tonne flight animals. The six week programme encourages and rewards positive behaviours e.g. commitment, politeness, participation, willingness; with the aim these are demonstrated back in daily life in Oakhill.
The forensic psychology team
The forensic psychology service at Oakhill, conducts assessments to support our young people and those working with them, to understand their risk of reoffending, the function of their current behaviour and any outstanding needs.
This allows for recommendations to be made to holistically support young people whilst they reside at Oakhill STC and prepare them for release into the community. Alongside the assessments we offer interventions dependent on the young person’s needs. The interventions are either group work or on a 1:1 basis.
Some of the interventions we deliver include; motivation enhancement, managing difficult emotions such as anger, and restructuring unhelpful thinking patterns, such as those linked to violence.
Conflict resolution is a restorative practice intervention designed by the Youth Custody Service (YCS), which aims to support young people in resolving their conflict, whether that is with another young person or a member of staff.
The individuals affected by any conflict are brought together in a supervised meeting after initial investigations have taken place and through interview techniques, get to the root of the issue and talk things out to establish a positive way in which to move forward.
The conflict resolution team also oversees anti-bullying efforts across the centre.
The team investigates any bullying concern that is submitted by a staff member, raised by the young person’s professional representatives or the young people themselves.
Following a referral to the team, an immediate investigation begins and depending on the outcome one or more of the following measures are put in place: monitor the interaction between the young people; conduct immediate resolution to resolve the issue as quickly as possible; open a bullying log which is closely monitored or conduct the full conflict resolution process for issues that are more complex and cannot be resolved quickly.
Families and the young person’s professional representatives are always kept informed if they are identified as either a target of bullying or the perpetrator. We then work with the young people involved with topics ranging from self-esteem, perspective taking and the conflict resolution process, to help try and repair the harm that has been caused in the behaviours displayed and to give the young people a chance to speak about what happened.
We are committed to having close involvement with the local community and voluntary organisations.
We already have established links with a local secondary school, where 6th form students attend a weekly football session with our young people, giving them an opportunity to work alongside other young people.
Ride High is a Milton Keynes based charity that works to help transform the lives of disadvantaged children, by giving them the opportunity to look after horses and ponies. They visit each week and bring along a couple of their ponies, which are groomed, fed and walked around the grounds by the young people. Time spent with the horses promotes confidence, responsible behaviour, respect and trust. It has been a very successful intervention.
Our education department also has close links with the MK Dons’ Sports & Education Trust.
Our young people are also encouraged to take part in local and national charity fundraising events.