Approved Schools: Issues for the System

Managing Costs

The Home Office was the central government department which had overall responsibility for the Approved Schools. A major concern of the Home Office was the need to keep the costs of the Schools to the minimum consistent with good child care. The financing the system had been established during the time of the Approved Schools’ predecessors, the Certified Schools. The schools submitted estimates each year, from which was calculated the average cost per child.

The Home Office then fixed a rate per child to be paid by the local authority named on the admittance order. This was expected to produce half the total costs; the remainder was made up by the Treasury. The Courts set an amount to be paid by the child’s parents; this was not very high and was often difficult and expensive to collect. The responsibility for collection rested with the local authorities who were allowed to retain 10% of the amount to offset expenses.

The Home Office sometimes made grants for major improvements to individual schools, repayable over 20 years. This extra outlay in many schools, together with additional expenditure in all the schools for higher professional and material standards, improved staff salaries, and the general effect of inflation resulted in ever-increasing annual costs of Approved Schools as shown in the chart below.

Weekly Charges per Child and Annual Cost and Occupancy

Data for All Approved Schools 1951-1965 

Year Weekly Cost Average No. Total Cost(£000)
1951-52 £ 6 – 3 – 7d 9,156 2,957
1952-53 £ 6 – 6 – 2d 9,416 3,098
1953-54 £ 6 -16 – lld 8,930 3,187
1954-55 £ 7 -17 – 0d 7,912 3,239
1955-56 £ 8 -11- 5d 7,122 3,192
1956-57 £ 9 – 2 – Id 6,810 3,232
1957-58 £ 9 – 0 – 0d 7,056 3,496
1958-59 £ 9 – 8 – Id 7.615 3,733
1959-60 £ 9 -19 – 9d 7,912 4,131
1960-61 £11 – 9 – 9d 7,910 4,523
1961-62 £11 -11- 6d 8,241 4,974
1962-63 £13 – 4 – 3d 8,605 5,928
1963-64 £15 – 3 – 6d 8,683 6,890
1964-65 £16 -13 – 5d 8,664 7,532

Compiled from Home Office Figure Gill 1974

The significance and interpretation of success rate figures were questioned by some. Rose (1967), for example, observed that reconviction was a very inadequate indication of success or failure, taking little account of the amount of after-care support the ex-Approved School young person received or of the seriousness of the committed offence. If absolute and conditional discharges and fines were excluded on the grounds that they suggested minor offences, then the success rate for boys placed out in 1959 was 61%, not 43% as suggested by the figures supplied by the Home Office.

 

Success Rates

Costs continued to rise at a rate well beyond inflation. By 1970/71 the cost per child per week had reached £31 and the total annual costs were just under £12 million. As Gill, (1974) observed, “In a society that prefers to pay by results, there was understandable concern”. This remark was prompted by concern both about the cost of the Schools and declining success rates. These rates recorded how many of the young people discharged from Approved Schools had avoided reconviction in the subsequent three years. Gill pointed out that, until 1954, the success rates had been based on figures made available via the after-care services of the schools. After that time that the Home Office itself presented the figures in a consistent form (see Table 3).

Success Rates 1933-1967: Showing Number of Boys and Girls Who Avoided Reconviction in the Three Years Following Discharge from an Approved School

Year

1933 77% 1947 66% 1956 50% 1963 35%
1938 75 1950 63 1959 43 1964 32
1941 71 1953 62 1960 43 1965 36
1944 63 1955 56 1962 38 1966 35
1967 34%

Compiled from Home Office Figure Gill 1974The significance and interpretation of success rate figures were questioned by some. Rose (1967), for example, observed that reconviction was a very inadequate indication of success or failure, taking little account of the amount of after-care support the ex-Approved School young person received or of the seriousness of the committed offence. If absolute and conditional discharges and fines were excluded on the grounds that they suggested minor offences, then the success rate for boys placed out in 1959 was 61%, not 43% as suggested by the figures supplied by the Home Office.

Success Rates for Girls

Not all children sent to Approved Schools were offenders. This was especially true of girls, who were often placed for care and control reasons. As they were not offenders, and usually did not become offenders, the success rate in respect of girls reflected this and remained fairly constant – 81% in 1933, 84% in 1956.Nevertheless, the schools were generally perceived as dealing with delinquents. Regarding boys this was certainly the case. In 1959, 95% of boys sent to Approved Schools were offenders; only 36% of girls admitted were offenders.

The Legal Process

The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 had given the Courts a range of powers in respect of juvenile offenders. Amongst these were: absolute or conditional discharge; a fine; a probation order; a fit person order; an approved school order; detention, for a limited period, in a remand home; attendance centre for a specified number of hours; borstal or prison for young people aged 16 years and over. Until 1948 whipping was also allowed as a punishment for young people.

It was not until the Criminal Justice Act 1948 that children of 14 years and over could be placed in Detention Centres, the first of which opened in 1952.

A ‘child’, under the 1933 Act, was defined as someone between the ages of 8 and 14 years, and a ‘young person’ as someone between 14 and 18 years of age. Under the Children Act 1963, Courts were required not to send a child under 10 years of age to an Approved School unless they were satisfied that he or she could not be dealt with otherwise.

Children could be admitted to an Approved School for the following reasons:

  • Those found guilty of an offence which, in the case of an adult, would be punishable with imprisonment.
  • Children who were found to be in need of care, protection or control. Included under this section were children against whom offences had been committed, including bodily injury and a number of other offences ranging from incest to neglect, procuring and allowing persons under 16 years of age to be in brothels.
  • A child in the care of the Children’s Department of the Local Authority, where the Court was satisfied that he or she was refractory and that it was expedient to send the child to an Approved School.
  • A child or young person currently under the supervision of a Probation Officer, and brought back to the Court because of the child’s behaviour.
  • A child or young person who was in the care of the Local Authority as a ‘fit person’ where the Authority thought he or she should be sent to a school and the Court agreed or a child who ran away from the care of a fit person.
  • Those who had been brought before the Court for failure to attend school.

The Ingleby Report (1960) exposed the conflict between justice and welfare in the Juvenile Court system. The Court remained a criminal court primarily concerned with the trying of offences, governed by the law of evidence in criminal cases (with a few special provisions). However, the Court was also to have regard to the welfare of the child. It was sometimes difficult for these two principles to be reconciled, for:

criminal responsibility is focused on an allegation about some particular act isolated from the character and needs of the defendant, whereas welfare depends on a complex of personal, family and social considerations (Ingleby ,1960). 

Justice or Welfare

The Report recognised that, if the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in deciding whether any State intervention should be made, then ideally such intervention should not be limited by the need to wait until one or more factors had been established. It came down, however, in favour of the prevailing system, stating:

The strength of the present system is that it is reasonably acceptable to the Community because it satisfies the general demand that there should be some defined basis for State interventionFurther experience has shown that the range of circumstances which come within the category of offences…is wide enough to cover virtually all cases where there may be good cause for intervention.

The dual function of the Court, Ingleby admitted, left scope for apparent injustice. The Court could appear to deal with a case on the grounds of the offence and then deal with it on the basis of the child’s needs. For example, a child charged with a petty theft, which justice would suggest would result in no great penalty, could lead, after a full investigation into the child’s home circumstances, to the Court deciding to remove the child from home for a prolonged period. Conversely a child with good home circumstances, in Court for a fairly serious offence, might be allowed home with a fine.

Ingleby, however, rejected the idea of a non-judicial or of a quasi-judicial tribunal to replace the Juvenile Court, maintaining that it was necessary for the proper protection of those who are the subject of proceedings and that only a Court of Law should have the power to interfere with personal liberty.  As far as the existing practice of removing a child or young person from home was concerned, “no such order shall be made unless the Court is satisfied that the need of protection or discipline evidenced before it cannot be met without removal from home” (Ingleby 1960) This was an important point and opened the way to further consideration before an Approved School order was made.

Continuing Rise in Offending

Although Ingleby had argued that the existing arrangements were for the most part satisfactory, continuing concern about the rise in juvenile offending ensured that the debate on the most effective way of dealing with young offenders did not go away. The number of children and young people found guilty of indictable offences in a Magistrates Court had grown considerably since 1938, the base year used in the Reports of the Work of the Children’s Department, published by the Home Office at three year intervals.

In 1938 the total number of persons under 17 years of age found guilty of indictable offences was 28,116, which was 15.8% of the total number of all offenders found guilty. There was concern about the rapid increase in the number of offenders in the early years of World War II. It was during this period that the number of Approved Schools rose from 104 in 1938 to 145 in 1945.

After rising to a peak of 43,583 young offenders in 1941, numbers fell to 35,694 in 1947, rising again in the late 1940s and early 1950s. After 1952, however, the number of offenders suddenly dipped in the years 1953-56. During this period the number of children in Approved Schools fell from 9,416 in 1952-53 to 6,810 in 1955-56, the lowest total since 1935. This led to the closure of 32 schools between 1950 and 1955.

The decline in offending ended in 1957 when the numbers rose to 45,107, and continued to rise rapidly, reaching 67,784 by 1963. For the next three years there was again a reduction of recorded offenders, though this was in part due to the implementation of Section 16 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, which raised the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 10 years. The number of offenders began to rise sharply in 1968, reaching 95,900.

Age Distribution of Young Offenders

The age distribution of young offenders was well illustrated by the figures for 1965. They showed that the number of boys under 14 years of age found guilty of an indictable offence was 22,376 and the number for boys between the ages of 14 and 17 years was 32,818. The older age range was clearly the peak period of offending. The comparative figure for girls was under 14 years, 2,697 and over 14 years, 4,979. These figures show the low rate of offending by girls, although proportionately the numbers show a greater increase in crime by girls than boys as compared with the 1938 figures.

Support for the Schools

Confidence in the value and efficacy of the Approved Schools as a method for dealing with young offenders was high during the early years of the Schools. Gill (1974) quoted Borgat (1941) who had observed:

It is better by far to send a boy away to be brought up a good citizen than to leave him indelibly impressed with the mark of a sordid home environment, probably to add to such conditions himself when he reaches manhood. The pity is not that such boys (i.e. Approved School boys) gain an advantage but that this advantage cannot be enjoyed by all.

The Curtis Report (1946) expressed general satisfaction with the work of the Approved Schools service, “In the main the Approved Schools seem to us to be well conducted in a humane and experimental spirit”. It commented on the value of the all-year-round service offered by the schools for children who were often unmanageable in ordinary children’s homes. It was not, however, uncritical of the system.

The chief fault we find in the schools for boys are insufficient feminine influence and a tendency in some of them to regimentation … With regard to Senior Girls Schools, we have some doubts about the value of institutional treatment.

The establishment showed their general approval of the system by being involved in a number of ways. New schools were opened by senior members of the Government, and they were visited on special anniversaries by national figures. The Approved Schools Gazette records a number of these visits. In 1957 the Joint Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Department went to Risley Hall School to open the new gymnasium. The Home Secretary, R.A. Butler, visited Court Lees School in November 1957 for its centenary celebrations and the Archbishop of York visited East Moor School for its centenary. In March 1960, Butler visited Greystokes School and in May 1960 a Parliamentary Under Secretary visited Essex Homes School to open a new classroom block.

As well as these clear gestures of Government recognition of the importance of the system up to and beyond the early 1960s, the Ingleby Report (1960) also came down firmly in favour, with some minor modifications, of the Approved School system. In the early 1960s then, their future appeared reasonably secure.

 This is the second in a series on the Approved School system. The first article, on the beginning of the system, appeared last month. Jim Hyland based the articles on material from his book “Yesterday’s Answers” (1995). A few copies are still available.

The Legal Process

The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 had given the Courts a range of powers in respect of juvenile offenders. Amongst these were: absolute or conditional discharge; a fine; a probation order; a fit person order; an approved school order; detention, for a limited period, in a remand home; attendance centre for a specified number of hours; borstal or prison for young people aged 16 years and over. Until 1948 whipping was also allowed as a punishment for young people.

It was not until the Criminal Justice Act 1948 that children of 14 years and over could be placed in Detention Centres, the first of which opened in 1952.

A ‘child’, under the 1933 Act, was defined as someone between the ages of 8 and 14 years, and a ‘young person’  as someone between 14 and 18 years of age. Under the Children Act 1963, Courts were required not to send a child under 10 years of age to an Approved School unless they were satisfied that he or she could not be dealt with otherwise.

Children could  be admitted to an Approved School for the following reasons:

  • Those found guilty of an offence which, in the case of an adult, would be punishable with imprisonment.
  • Children who were found to be in need of care, protection or control. Included under this section were children against whom offences had been committed, including bodily injury and a number of other offences ranging from incest to neglect, procuring and allowing persons under 16 years of age to be in brothels.
  • A child in the care of the Children’s Department of the Local Authority, where the Court was satisfied that he or she was refractory and that it was expedient to send the child to an Approved School.
  • A child or young person currently under the supervision of a Probation Officer, and brought back to the Court because of the child’s behaviour.
  • A child or young person who was in the care of the Local Authority as a ‘fit person’ where the Authority thought he or she should be sent to a school and the Court agreed or a child who ran away from the care of a fit person.
  • Those who had been brought before the Court for failure to attend school.

The  Ingleby (1960)  exposed the conflict between justice and welfare in the Juvenile Court system.. The Court remained a criminal court primarily concerned with the trying of offences, governed by the law of evidence in criminal cases (with a few special provisions). However, the Court was also to have regard to the welfare of the child. It was sometimes difficult for these two principles to be reconciled, for:

criminal responsibility is focused on an allegation about some particular act isolated from the character and needs of the defendant, whereas welfare depends on a complex of personal, family and social considerations (Ingleby ,1960). 

Justice or Welfare

The Report recognised that if the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in deciding whether any State intervention should be made, then ideally such intervention should not be limited by the need to wait until one or more factors had been established. It came down, however, in favour of the prevailing system, stating:

The strength of the present system is that it is reasonably acceptable to the Community because it satisfies the general demand that there should be some defined basis for State interventionFurther experience has shown that the range of circumstances which come within the category of offences…is wide enough to cover virtually all cases where there may be good cause for intervention.

The dual function of the Court, Ingleby admitted, left scope for apparent injustice. The Court could appear to deal with a case on the grounds of the offence and then deal with it on the basis of the child’s needs. For example a child charged with a petty theft, which justice would suggest would result in no great penalty, could lead, after a full investigation into the child’s home circumstances, to the Court deciding to remove the child from home for a prolonged period. Conversely a child with good home circumstances, in Court for a fairly serious offence, might be allowed home with a fine.

Ingleby, however, rejected the idea of a non-judicial or of n quasi-judicial tribunal to replace the Juvenile Court maintaining that it was necessary for the proper protection of those who are the subject of proceedings and that only a Court  of Law should have the power to interfere with personal liberty.  As far as the existing practice of removing a child or young person from home was concerned, ‘no such order shall be made unless the Court is satisfied that the need of protection or discipline evidenced

 before it cannot be met without removal from home’ (Ingleby  1960) This was  an important point and opened the way to further consideration before an Approved School order was made.

Continuing Rise in Offending

Although Ingleby had argued that the existing arrangements  were, for the most part, satisfactory continuing concern about  the rise in juvenile offending ensured that the debate on the  most effective way of dealing with young offenders did not go  away. The number of children and young people found guilty of  indictable offences in a Magistrate’s Court had grown considerably since 1938, the base year used in the  Reports of  the Work of the Children’s Department, published Home Office at three year intervals .

In 1938 the total number of persons under 17 years of age found guilty of indictable offences was 28,116, which was 15.8% of the total number of all offenders found guilty. There was concern about the rapid increase in the number of offenders in the early years of World War I1. It was during this period that the number of Approved Schools rose from 104 in 1938 to 145 in 1945.

.After rising to a peak of 43,583 young offenders in 1941 numbers fell to 35,694 in 1947, rising again in the late 1940s and early 1950s. After 1952, however, the number of offenders  suddenly dipped in the years 1953-56. During this period the -number of children in Approved Schools fell from 9,416 in 1952-53 to 6,810 in 1955-56, the lowest total since 1935. This led to the closure of 32 schools between 1950 and 1955. The decline in offending ended in 1957 when the numbers rose to 45,107, and continued to rise rapidly, reaching 67,784 by 1963. For the next three years there was again a reduction of recorded offenders, though this was in part due to the implementation of Section 16 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, which raised the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 10 years. The number of offenders began to rise sharply in 1968, reaching 95,900

Age Distribution of Young Offenders

The age distribution of young offenders was well illustrated by the figures for 1965. They showed that the number of boys under 14 years of age found guilty of an indictable offence was 22,376 and the number for boys between the ages of 14 and 17 years was 32,818. The older age range was clearly the peak period of offending. The comparative figure for girls was under 14 years, 2,697 and over 14 years , 4,979. These figures show the low rate of offending by girls, although proportionately the numbers show a greater increase in crime by girls than boys as compared with the 1938 figures.

Support for the Schools

Confidence in the value and efficacy of the Approved Schools as a method for dealing with young offenders was high during the early years of the Schools. Gill (1974) quoted Borgat (1941) who had observed:

It is better by far to send a boy away to be brought up a good citizen than to leave him indelibly impressed with the mark of a sordid home environment, probably to add to such conditions himself when he reaches manhood. The pity is not that such boys (i.e. Approved School boys) gain an advantage but that this advantage cannot be enjoyed by all.

The Curtis Report (1946) expressed general satisfaction with the work of the Approved Schools service: ‘In the main the Approved Schools seem to us to be well conducted in a humane and experimental spirit’. It commented on the value of the all year round service offered by the schools for children who were often unmanageable in ordinary children’s homes. It was not,  however, uncritical of the system.

The chief fault we find in the schools for boys are insufficient feminine influence and a tendency in some of them to regimentation … With regard to Senior Girls Schools, we have some doubts about the value of institutional treatment.

The Establishment showed their general approval of the system by being involved in a number of ways. New schools were opened by senior members of the Government, they were visited on special anniversaries by national figures. The Approved Schools Gazette records a number of these visits. In 1957 the Joint Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Department went to Risley Hall School to open the new gymnasium. The Home Secretary, R.A. Butler, visited Court Lees School in November 1957 for its centenary celebrations and the Archbishop of York visited East Moor School for its centenary. In March 1960, Butler visited Greystokes School and in May 1960 a Parliamentary Under Secretary visited  Essex Homes School to open a new classroom block.

As well as these clear gestures of Government recognition of the  importance of the system up to and beyond the early 1960s, the Ingleby Report (1960) also came down firmly in favour, with some minor modifications, of the Approved School system. In the early 1960’s then their future appeared reasonably secure.

Jim Hyland based this article on material from his book “Yesterday’s Answers” (1995).

3 thoughts on “Approved Schools: Issues for the System

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