Nacro East of England

Nacro is a national charity dedicated to working with the most disadvantaged people, offenders and those at risk of offending, to help them find positive alternatives to crime and to achieve their full potential. Education services form part of a broad range of practical support including help with substance misuse and housing. Nacro education and training centres worked directly with 11,000 learners in 2008-9 and also reach young people through sports, outreach and community action. This includes activities for young people under the age of 16 who are excluded or at risk of exclusion from school, and Foundation Learning programmes for 16-19-year-olds. Nacro also works with local strategic partnerships to promote education and employment policies that will deliver programmes that ex-offenders and disengaged young people need.

There are 54 Nacro education and training sites throughout the country (excluding Nacro housing provision). Several centres have integrated sexual health into the services they offer in partnership with local agencies, as the two case studies below show.

Nacro Wisbech estimate that 35 per cent of the young people they work with have had their secondary education interrupted in some way, so many have missed out on school sex and relationships education. Young people can enrol on a 26-week Foundation Learning course, with vocational opportunities including mechanics and engineering, retail and care work. The personal and social development (PSD) element of the programme is accredited with NOCN and includes units on sex and relationships, healthy living, alcohol and drug awareness. Nacro staff have devised fun and interactive activities, for example, the young people will research topics using the internet and then feed back to the group. There is increased uptake of condoms and chlamydia testing after the sessions. One tutor explained: 'You have to just be open - don't hide anything, then young people listen and ask questions.'

The motivation for running this programme came from informal discussions in coffee breaks. Tutors became aware of the risks young people were taking with their sexual health and how this was often linked with alcohol use. Partnership working has been key to linking Nacro with local sexual health initiatives. Connexions ran training on sexual health for Nacro staff and the Nacro centre is registered with the local condom distribution scheme. Staff at the centre would welcome further training opportunities.

The decision to run a dedicated session on sexual health as part of induction at Ipswich Nacro was prompted by concerns from staff that pregnancy, sexual health and relationships were a barrier to learning for some young people. As a result of effective networking, the training organiser has arranged for a nurse from Suffolk PCT to run fortnightly sessions at the centre. The nurse runs an interactive education session with newly enrolled learners as part of their induction and is then available for all learners to drop in for confidential advice, free condoms and chlamydia testing. PSD is currently run informally, but plans are underway to accredit aspects of induction.

All Nacro centres opt to track young people for nine months after completing their Foundation Learning programme. Positive destinations were 45 per cent on average in 2008-9.

For more information contact:
Simon Bambridge, regional delivery standards and training officer

More case studies on this theme can be found in the Sex Education Forum briefing Foundation Learning and Apprenticeships (2010).