Coding skills for young ex-offenders

by Generating Genius

 This report comes out of the work that we have so far achieved with the coding project.  We have sent this to the Youth Justice Board, to see if they will now scale up our work. We want to stress the aspect of poor academic achievement and how a coding can help.

INNOVATION FUND

The Rationale: 

According to the recent Haringey local authority  Cabinet  document:  ‘Scrutiny Review: Disproportionately within the Youth Justice system.’  

The simple fact of the review is that some groups of young people (particularly males of African Caribbean background) are considerably more likely to get into trouble than others.  Haringey is an ideal test case for black disproportionately given the data on education and Crime.  The report give  seven recommendations: 

1, Interventions need to be earlier in the lives of young people

2 Too many interventions that  are not Joined-up

3  Schools exclusions

4 Poor academic achievement by African Caribbean children

5 Family fragmentation within African Caribbean community

6 Mental health

7 Policing

The report is an excellent summary of the problem there are few imaginative solutions. We need to pick up the following isues:

‘Do we need community sentencing remedies targeted specifically towards black children so that sentencers have effective non-custodial remedies which they are more likely to use.  Would this be legal? 

-          are there behavioural differences (eg. cultural) which lead to unconscious bias?  Are white children more savvy at how to manipulate the system in their favour?

-          Is diversion work not picking up black children as effectively as white children.  Given that the reduction in custody numbers seems to have been greater for white children over recent years there may be something in this.’  Colin Allers

 

Our Innovation fund recognises that there exists a range of good practice. Too often this resides in silos or not given a strategic focus.  In reality there needs to be some leadership in this space.  The Arts and Sports are critical areas in supporting the complex problems that beset some black youth in the borough. Utilised strategically the arts and sports can meet the multi-level needs of many of our young people.  We need to get going with this intervention, so below is a proposed pilot, which is ready to go. 

 An example of a possible programme that could be funded:

The Last Mile (TLM) was created to provide programs that result in successful reentry and reduce recidivism. We believe that  jobs are the key to breaking the cycle of incarceration. Our mission is to provide marketable skills that lead to employment. Our in an out program provides career training in prison with mentorship and job placement upon release.

TLM began as an intensive 6-month entrepreneurship program at San Quentin, in which men learned how to tap into their passion to create a business that includes a technology component and social cause. At Demo Day in front of 350 invited guests from the business community and fellow inmates, they pitch their ideas. Many say it’s the best day of their life.

Through the process, they learn how businesses function, how to work with a team, accept criticism, gain confidence in their ability to grasp new ideas, and pivot when they are heading down the wrong path. With the help of volunteers, guest speakers, and leaders from the business community, they are introduced to the latest technology without access to the internet or hands on experience.

In 2014, TLM launched the first computer coding curriculum in a United States prison (Code.7370), in partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and CalPIA. The men learn HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Python. In addition to these front end skills, the curriculum will expand to include web and logo design, data visualization and UX/UI.

Since Internet access is not allowed in prison,  programs are taught without connectivity. To overcome this challenge we created a proprietary programming platform that simulates a live coding experience. Imagine, software engineers who are judged by the quality of the code they develop, not by the stigma of criminality.

It is predicted that there will be a shortfall of 1 million software engineering jobs in 2020. The TLM “returned graduates” will be positioned well to leverage this opportunity and support our mission to reduce recidivism by attaining gainful employment.

So the Code 4000 idea is simple. They want to build a similarly successful programme in the UK to those already operating in the US and elsewhere. Starting with a pilot of sixteen prisoners at HMP Humber, they want to build a network of coding workshops in UK prisons, with the aim of giving people a second chance, turning their lives around, and training them in a skills set which has a high demand in the UK (and global) jobs market. - See more at: http://www.techcityuk.com/blog/2016/11/teaching-programming-prisoners/#sthash.Go4cJtZ8.dpuf

Support us in setting up the new innovation fund for coding

We have now come to our transition point in this exciting project, where we look to use the model  for companies interested in employing a young person who has recently ended a senetence for a criminal offence. Statistically, these young people find it the hardest to get full-time emplpyment. 

The range of non-custodial responses to juvenile offenders has been widened to include a police final warning, court-ordered reparation, parenting orders and action plan orders, where intensive rehabilitation programmes can be tailored to the needs of offenders. Over and above them flies a new statutory aim for all relevant professionals of preventing offending by children and young people.. A resurgent "what works" movement on both sides of the Atlantic has drawn attention to convincing evidence that certain types of rehabilitation can significantly reduce reoffending.

By analysing more than 400 controlled evaluations of work with young offenders, the American researcher Mark Lipsey found that even on average they achieved reductions in recidivism compared with "treatment as usual". More persuasively, there were certain categories that pointed to average reduction rates of 20% or more

The most promising programmes in community settings were those designed to improve personal and social skills and those that focused on changing behaviour. Services that combined a number of approaches were also noticeably effective.

When Lipsey narrowed the analysis to programmes for juveniles convicted of serious and violent crimes, he discovered that behaviour modification and inter-personal skills work scored average reductions in re-offending of as high as 40%.

We are now looking to a number of employers on out data base particularly  young statrt-ups  to take -on one ex-offender. The plan will be:

To build network of volunteers to share the load is the only approach likely to work. So we developed this further to build a supportive network around ex-offenders to provide not only coding, but also pastoral, support from a local youth charity we havw called these  volunteers 'code-coaches', they work alongside a 'host business' with an entrepreneur who's the 'business owner': There is also support from the youth offending Team  who will help with the social care

What will success look like:

Without going into too much detail, here are the elements of our approach:

  • Young person responds extremely well to being treated like a normal member of the team, with the same holiday allowance, relaxed working conditions and involvement with company social events. Trying not to be the ‘odd one out’ is a big motivator for young person to  modify his behaviour
  • Despite a lack of education, learning to code from online resources isn't a big intellectual jump for our young people  once all the other challenges are removed
  • Working with volunteer mentors is a massive motivator, especially knowing these people are giving their time for free and they'll return next week to review his progress
  • Mentors have build personal relationships with young people  that extend beyond coding, and are able to share information about lifestyle and career paths
  • Having this apprenticeship prevents  the young person reoffending. 
  • The power of online connections (social media, email lists etc) has given Generating Genius  quick access to a big support network that otherwise would have been difficult to reach
  • Having an experienced youth worker in the support network as a friend, rather than from a statutory body is a massive benefit.

 The Challenges:

Signing up companies willing to take the low risk

Raising funding for social care support.

Getting the right tech support so that  volunteer  coders can contiubue their support on-line.

Plans to meet challenges: 

1  Using existing networks we have already had strong interest from a number of small companies

2 Using Gobal Giving and other agenicies to raise funds 

3 A number of tech companies have offered their support for free

 

We have recently found that our students have managed to obtain a number of ‘artistic’ and social skills as a result of the programme:

 

Interactive: good for those with kinaesthetic learning preference, helps keep learner actively engaged and can provide instant feedback
Multi-sensory: auditory, visual and hands on learning recommended for dyslexia Work at their own pace: is non-critical and patient, can repeat sections as often as you like
Help with literacy: read-back software and/or speech input, text highlighting, spell checking, predictive software
Help with organisation: electronic organisers, drafting facilities like cut and paste, mind mapping programmes Accommodate individual learning styles: adapting colour of background and foreground, changing font size and type. The  project has been innovative.  Opportunities for young ex-offenders have been very difficult, with few employers willing to take risks. This project  not only supported this group but used resources raised to give them key technical skills to have a fighting chance for a job. 

 

 

The project fulfilled 3 objectives for 300 students. 

1  They have secured real coding skills that can be used for employement and further training

 

2 We gave students some key soft skills:

 Trust of others- how much I trust others’ ideas, qualities and opinions in this lesson

. Pace- how much pace, risk and change I like in this lesson

  Disclosure- how willing am I share to share thoughts, ideas, opinions and questions in this lesson

  Perspective- whether I see things from a detached or personal perspective in this lesson

Processing- whether I focus on making connections or following step by step in this lesson

  Planning- whether I focus on the learning outcome or am open ended in this lesson

 

3  We have placed most of our students on  real work inernships with  STEM companies.   This aspect of the project needs real support in terms of administration costs and also the transport costs for our students

 

 

 

We have also pointed our students to a programme run by the Sutton Trust: We would need funding in supporting our students in pre-application process

 

Pathways to STEM, which is kindly supported by the Kusuma Trust UK, has been established to widen access to STEM degrees and the wide range of careers they open up. The Pathways to STEM programme supports academically able low and middle-income state school students to access the most selective STEM university courses and provide them with the foundation for a STEM career through the development of soft skills, a work placement, careers advice and a mentor.

 

Research by the Sutton Trust has identified a strong demand for skills in STEM areas, excellent and growing career prospects and a significant under- representation of those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds at entry and higher levels.

 

Pathways to STEM includes a range of sessions for students, parents and teachers, including tailored education and careers advice; academic classes in STEM subjects; sessions to develop non-academic skills; a residential summer school; a work experience placement in a relevant STEM setting; assignment of a mentor; and a graduation event for students and parents. Pathways to STEM will work with students in Years 10 and 11 to provide advice on key decisions and help with the step-up to A-level study, before also supporting them in Years 12 and 13. The programme is run through university partners, Nottingham and York.

The  project has been innovative.  Opportunities for young ex-offenders have been very difficult, with few employers willing to take risks. This project  not only supported this group but used resources raised to give them key technical skills to have a fighting chance for a job. 

 

The project fulfilled 3 objectives for 300 students. 

1  They have secured real coding skills that can be used for employement and further training

 

2 We gave students some key soft skills:

 Trust of others- how much I trust others’ ideas, qualities and opinions in this lesson

. Pace- how much pace, risk and change I like in this lesson

  Disclosure- how willing am I share to share thoughts, ideas, opinions and questions in this lesson

  Perspective- whether I see things from a detached or personal perspective in this lesson

Processing- whether I focus on making connections or following step by step in this lesson

  Planning- whether I focus on the learning outcome or am open ended in this lesson

 

3  We have placed most of our students on  real work inernships with  STEM companies

 

We would like to thank all our donors for their Generoisty

Somewhere in the mid 1990s, we lost our way. The education system largely ignored the explosive growth of computing and the internet, instead focusing on teaching students how to write Word documents. Instead of a nation of builders and entrepreneurs, we were content for our children to become also-rans on the technology stage.

Dr Tony Sewell has been appointed by the Secretary of State to be on the Youth Justices board. The body responsible for Youth Justice in England and Wales. The appointment has been the result of the work done on the Coding and Ex- offenders programme.

The Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, appointed Dr Tony Sewell as a new member of the Youth Justice Board. Lord McNally, Chair of Youth Justice Board, said: "Tony has an outstanding track record in the education sector at both national and international level, and his pioneering work to raise the attainment of children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds is exemplary. His passion for addressing educational discrimination has driven real change in the school system. I look forward to working with Tony in his role to provide challenge and support to the Board and in bringing his special experience to the issue of the over representation of black and ethnic young people in our criminal justice system."

The charity will now take on a more lobbying role as it looks at how Coding can influence the pathways of ex-offenders. This is an exciting position to have.

The government also want to put education at the heart of the experience of these young people. We are now coming to an end point in the programme but still need funds to enable us to do high level evaluation. We want to measure a range of skills

 

What is the study? The study will measure the impact of our (social programme) upon the social, emotional and cognitive development of students. Our hope is that the study will broaden understanding of the non-academic dividend in educational models and highlight where gaps in the actual impacts of different models on student development can be overcome.

What will the study involve? The study has been designed for minimal school disruption and time allocation. It involves 50% of young people completing a one hour online assessment. The assessments can be conducted within our own ICT suite under the supervision of an internal member of staff, supplied with a full briefing and instructions to run the session.

This proposal is a priority because we wish to develop and implement the assessment mechanism which would reveal the academic and aspirational baseline of disadvantaged students, including working class boys. Our activities, as part of this proposal, will give young ex-offenders a better assessment of where they are educationally to reveal their true level of ability. us the ability to measure the impact of our programme.

 

 

 

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Organization Information

Generating Genius

Location: South Croydon, Surrey - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.generatinggenius.org.uk
Project Leader:
Tony Sewell
South croydon, Surrey United Kingdom

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