PET Triumphs in Good Governance Prize

27 Jun 2017

The Charity Governance Awards named Prisoners’ Education Trust the winner in the Improving Impact category for charities with between five and 25 staff, recognising the Board’s role in making policy a core part of PET’s work and in supporting the charity to fund 40% more prison learners over the last three years.

The Board is chaired by Alexandra Marks, a judge and legal consultant who was recently awarded a CBE for her contributions to justice.

She says:

“I am delighted and proud that PET’s Board has been recognised by this Charity Governance Award.

“The fact we impressed the judging panel with clear evidence of our increased impact, not only from programmes but also from our policy work, is a tribute both to the trustees and the hard-working, dedicated staff who support us.

“Between us, we are determined to make real its mission to make ‘every prisoner a learner and every prison a place to learn’.”

In the announcement, Michele Acton, the Chief Executive of Fight for Sight and one of the judges for the award, said PET had demonstrated remarkable progress in terms of the numbers funded over the last few years and a “real commitment” to use evidence to prove impact.

The number of prisoners who received PET grants rose from 1,754 in 2013 to 2,457 in 2016 – an increase of 40%. A Ministry of Justice review has shown that people who receive these awards are up to 25% less likely to reoffend. Two trustees per month visit PET’s office to help to review decisions of whether or not to support individual learners. 

Rod Clark, PET’s Chief Executive, says the Board were also particularly important in supporting PET as it moved from simply funding distance-learning courses, to seeking to influence and improve prison education as a whole.

“In 2013 the Board were forward-looking in their commitment to mainstreaming our policy work without any guarantees of further funding,” he says. “It reflected their belief in the importance of the policy work, and the need for it if we are to affect long-term change in prison education provision. They understood how mutually enabling our expertise and policy work are; we have now supported over 35,000 prisoner learners since our foundation in 1989, giving PET a voice of authority when in turn we recommend changes to policy or practice.”

PET was one of seven winners, each of whom received a £5,000 unrestricted grant.

Michael Howell, Chair of the Trusteeship Committee at the award organisers The Clothworkers’ Company, said, “Congratulations to our outstanding winners – they provide the charity sector with sterling examples of what can be achieved with excellent governance.

“Highly-skilled trustees, diverse boards and their innovative use of digital technology are all areas that the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities has recommended as a focus for the sector. Therefore, we are delighted that our winners provide real-life examples of how that can be achieved.”

PET’s Board is made up of 14 trustees, including a prison governor, a former political advisor, several lawyers and the former Chairman of Channel 4. PET recently appointed its first former service-user trustee: Simon Scott, who works delivering life coaching in prisons.

An e-book, with profiles of all the winners, can be downloaded here.