The PLA's 2015 workshops on ‘Achieving excellence in progression’ included a range of contributions from academics, charities and prisons and highlight some innovative ways to help prisoners work towards recognised qualifications and develop exciting new career ambitions. Read our round-up of the workshops and download presentations here:
Literacy and numeracy – what next?
Chaired by Dr Jane Hurry, IoE, this workshop included a short film on literacy in prisons, a talk on a Maths Mentors scheme run by NIACE, Alex Stevenson, Book-keeping and accounting courses at HMP Dartmoor, Nick Dent, Sage and an overview of PET's Distance Learning provision, Shona Tchilingirian.
This session screened a first rough cut of a film on literacy in prisons. The film was made by PET and Prison Learning TV and features interviews with prisoners and staff at HMP Thameside and HMP Lewes as well as an interview with Big Issue founder John Bird. The film focuses on ways to help people in prison learn to read and love to read. Prisoners are shown participating in charity schemes including the Shannon Trust, the Reading Agency, the Story Book Dads and Prison reading groups. Much of these activities were run in the library at HMP Thameside which the film shows is a hub for learning and positivity. The film also includes sessions with the education department, interviews with teachers about their work to improve prisoners' functional skills and progress through creative writing courses and distance learning. Shona Tchilingirian expanded on PET's work providing funding for distance learning.
This session also focused on some interesting initiatives to develop prisoners' numeracy skills, using the mentor model, as highlighted by NIACE and working with Sage to offer high level learning at HMP Dartmoor. This course covers payroll, accountancy and gives prisoners a qualification from a recognised brand in the accountancy sector.
Read about making the literacy film
Downloads - Maths Mentors NIACE
Supporting progression into Further and Higher Education
This workshop included discussions on; how to support progression into Further and Higher Education both in custody and through the gate. Organising an FE Fair and supporting distance learning was the topic being discussed by HMP Parc, G4S, Teresa Rumbelow and Allison Wiggins. Setting up ‘The Open Academy’ learning wing, Malcom Whitelaw, HMP Swaleside, The Manchester College.
Teresa Rumbelow introduced the session by saying ‘The philosophy of HMP Parc is to rehabilitate offenders and equip them to re-integrate into mainstream society on release.’ In the five years since the education department has been established there has been a large increase in the numbers of distance learners: in October 2010, there was one member of staff and 10-20 learners; now, there are five members of staff and over 150 learners. The team offer information and guidance, support individual learning and enable participation and attainment. The key reason Parc provides FE is to develop confidence and skills, aspirations, meaningful employment, entrepreneurial skills.
Kicking off his session, Malcolm Whitelaw, HMP Swaleside- says ‘You can’t change anyone - you can only create an environment that makes change possible’. He discussed the prison's new 'Open Academy', which involved giving a prison wing a ‘learning identity’ which includes three rooms and a library equipped full of resources for higher level learners. The prison currently has approximately 80 Open University learners. Swaleside also promotes progression in education and employment through pay so the higher the qualifications prisoners work towards, the more pay they receive. Whitelaw says: "It gives validity, it gives credibility and it gives identity to Learners’
Download - HMP Parc presentation
Progression routes for peer mentoring
This workshop included presentations from; Leeds Beckett University ‘Peers in Prison Settings’ research by Prof. Rachel Dixey; HMP Dartmoor, Danny Bramley, Head of Learning and Skills, Weston College; Andrew Brookfield, Mentoring Befriending Foundation/NCVO, Paul, former Senior Peer Mentor at HMP Dartmoor
Read PLA's notes on this workshop
Download - Mentoring at HMP Dartmoor
Download - MBF/NCVO presentation
Download - Leeds Becket Peers in Prison briefing
Download - Leeds Becket Peers in Prison symposium paper
Supporting progression into employment
Developing an employment Mindset (Alasdair Downes, Executive Director, The REED NCFE Partnership LLP and Paul Eaton NCFE), The Clink Charity supporting progression into sustainable employment. Mark Sillary, Senior Support Worker.