PUPILS from Castleford Academy were put in the slammer for a day to learn about the tough consequences of breaking the law.
Year nine youngsters from the Ferrybridge Road school spent a day working with volunteers from the No Way Trust – an educational charity set up by prison officers who want to turn young people away from crime and raise awareness about the effects of anti-social behaviour.
The children took turns caged in a mobile cell and carried out group activities during the Prison! Me? No Way! crime and safety awareness day last Thursday.
Roy Vaughan, headteacher, said: “The day was a lot of fun. Year nine pupils were isolated from the rest of the school to experience having their freedom removed.
“During the day pupils attended workshops consisting of role-plays and drama and also met real prisoners who hoped to prevent young people making the same mistakes they have.
“Our young people are provided with a unique opportunity to learn in an innovative way about the possible consequences of becoming involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour.”
The No Way Trust – set up in 1995 – has run awareness days for 4.5 million youngsters through 2,000 secondary schools and more than 1,800 youth organisations.
In 2008 the Department for Education awarded the trust a £480,000 grant which allowed it to continue running the awareness days.
Graham Chapman, a prison officer who works with the trust and run awareness days, said: “The day is designed to be fun but highly educational.
“We believe prevention is the best way of teaching these children about how to stay out of trouble in the first place.
“We treat them like prisoners, escort them around the school grounds like prisoners, and show them how something they consider to be fun now can in fact develop and potentially see them end up in prison.
“We also show them how to protect themselves from peer pressure and how to stay safe online as well as when they’re out and about with friends.
“The aim is to make them aware of the tools and facilities available if they need to talk to someone and show them the channels they can use to report any criminal activity they see.”