Inspectors’ report shows prison education must be valued

16 Sep 2014

Prisoners’ Education Trust says a new report published by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Probation and Ofsted ‘Resettlement provision for adult offenders: Accommodation and education, training and employment’ is further evidence that education must be prioritised for effective rehabilitation of prisoners.

Particularly welcome is the report’s recognition that a ‘whole person’ approach is crucial to helping people and it reinforces a key recommendation in the Prisoner Learning Alliance’s report Smart Rehabilitation. Further, its findings on employability skills and the inflexibility of the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) contract to cater for people with higher qualifications or those who want to progress were also highlighted in the PLA’s report Smart Rehabilitation.

Rod Clark, Chief Executive, Prisoners’ Education Trust, said:

“We welcome this report as further evidence that quality education, training and skills all lead toward helping people resettle back into society and therefore the government needs to recognise this and do more to put plans in place to support all prisoners.

“This report reinforces the Prisoner Learning Alliance’s findings in Smart Rehabilitation, that there must be more accountability and leadership from prison governors. Further, different government departments and prison functions must join up to work together towards the shared objective of turning people away from crime.

“One of the most effective ways of doing this is by giving people something valuable to do with their time and developing new skills to help them break the cycle of reoffending, rather than contributing to it. That also has a positive impact on family relationships and anything that can strengthen those ties also has benefits for our society, as the joint inspectors’ report shows. Only with a smarter approach to rehabilitation will the expensive cost of reoffending to taxpayers, victims and society be reduced.

The ‘Resettlement provision for adult offenders’ report also states that the requirements for prisoners serving longer sentences should not be overlooked. Next week Prisoners’ Education Trust is publishing a report, Brain Cells, which calls for a specific strategy to support the learning needs of this group.

The PLA’s report Smart Rehabilitation: Learning how to get better outcomes outlines the benefits to enabling prisoners to access a broad range of learning, training and skills activities.

Editor’s Notes:

The full report ‘Resettlement provision for adult offenders: Accommodation and education, training and employment’ via HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

The Prisoner Learning Alliance’s first report Smart Rehabilitation: Learning how to get better outcomes was published in December 2013.

Photos, case studies and interviews are available on request; please contact Susannah Henty, Media Manager: Susannah@prisonerseducation.org.uk; 020 8648 7760 or visit www.prisonerseducation.org.uk for more information.

 About PET

This year Prisoners' Education Trust (PET) celebrates its 25th anniversary. The charity was set up in HMP Wandsworth by a prison teacher in 1989 who wanted to improve the range of courses available for prisoners. That year, PET helped 12 people, now the charity supports approximately 2,000 each year to study distance learning courses across England and Wales. The charity does this by providing advice and funding for prisoners keen to study subjects and levels not otherwise available in prisons. PET also carries out research, informed by prisoner learners, to improve prison education. In 2012 PET launched the Prisoner Learning Alliance with 17 other expert organisations to help inform the policy and practice of learning, training and skills of prisoners and the charity provides secretariat to the PLA.