Plans to create the establishments as an alternative to youth jails were announced in 2016 after a review called for fundamental change to the youth custody system. The report found that children in public-sector young offender institutions (YOIs) were only receiving 15 hours of education a week on average, compared with an expected level of 30 hours.
The facilities allow for any boy or girl aged 12 to 17 who is remanded or sentenced into youth detention accommodation to be placed into secure schools.
The justice minister Edward Argar said: “Secure schools are critical to our vision for youth custody – placing education, healthcare and purposeful activity at the heart of rehabilitation.
“I have been impressed by Oasis’s dedication to improving the lives of young people and its track record across education, health and youth work. We will now work closely with them on detailed proposals to ensure high standards from day one.”
Three-quarters of Oasis’s academies operate in the UK’s most deprived areas and most were rated by Ofsted as failing at the time they were taken over.
The £5m investment will include refurbishment of classrooms and residential areas.
The site of the new secure school, Medway, has been dogged by allegations of mistreatment of the young inmates by staff for years.
It was previously operated by the private company G4S, which was stripped of its contract after a Guardian exposé revealed a history of abuse allegations at the centre near Rochester, Kent. It also revealed that a letter sent by two whistleblowers 12 years earlier to the Youth Justice Board, G4S, the Social Services Inspectorate and a Home Office minister had been ignored.