Leading Schools and Sustaining Innovation: Reflections from Dr Luke

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Case Study


Working in the Youth Estate 2015 - 2021

Dr Luke Roberts CEO Resolve Consultants - In commercial Confidence


The Journey into the Youth Estate

In 2013 Dr Luke Roberts was asked if he had ever worked in prisons to which he said “no”. The next question was would you like to? And so began his relationship the Youth Custody Service. In 2013 he worked with Warren Hill. After his training in restorative approaches there was a 40 per cent drop in in violence on one of the wings due to some excellent work of the officers, Physical Education Instructors, supported by a senior leadership team which understood the benefits of that the proposed interventions could make.

In 2014 Warren Hill became a Category C men’s prison. All seemed to be over and then…

2015: Going to Scale

In 2015 Dr Luke was asked to present to all the governors and and senior leaders in the Youth Estate. Of the 10 most violent prisons the four youth estate prisons were the top 4. Dr Luke presented in the meeting that violence was not the problem, to which there murmurings that they have got the wrong person.

He suggested that violence was the by-product of conflict and that by resolving the conflict there would be less violence. To which they was full agreement that they did have the right person and he now need to build a model that address all sites in England.

From Restorative Approaches to Conflict Resolution.

During the first round of training it became very clear that staff in the youth estate were not fans of restorative justice. Therefore, there was a shift in language to “Conflict Resolution” as they ‘dealt with conflict everyday’.

The four sites involved were HMP Cookham Wood, HMP Feltham, HMP Werrington and HMP Wetherby.

The sites each had dedicated conflict resolution practitoners who’s full-time role was to address conflict situations between young people and young people and young people and staff.

Tribal Wings: Conflict Resolution and Group violence

In 2017, as the Conflict Resolution model developed it became clear that one of the main causes of conflict in Youth Offending Institutions was the tribal behaviour that occurred when being assigned to a wing. This was partly due the result of outside gang identification, of area loyalty, but also internally generated loyalty from being assigned to a wing.

As a result groups assaults meant that the Conflict Resolution had to identity and engage with multiple members of a Wing participating in a conflict.

Officers from the Cookham Wood YOI, with the support of Resolve Consultants held a multi-agency workshop to explore the interplay between conflict in communities and conflict in the Cookham Wood Community.

A young person was released on license to share their lived experience of being in Cookham and the need for change. The visualisation with the support of Scriberia captures the discussions on the day.

What can we give and what can we connect

Visual Voices: A Unique Methodology

As the project developed in 2018 Medway Secure Training College (STC) joined the project, have moved from the private sector to the public sector.

The Medway STC had both girls and boys which meant the conflict resolution model adapted to a new range of conflict types to support young people and staff.

During initial interviews it became clear that young people did not like being recorded as this felt like an investigation.

A new methodology called Visual Voices was developed to capture their views in a way which was engaging for them and allowed to sense check in real time.

The following visualisations where conducted over late 2018 early 2019.

Jounrey to our safer community
Empowering young people
Our voices our future
Types of conflict
Wetherby building skills for life

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