Learners' Stories

Over the past 25 years Prisoners' Education Trust (PET) has helped thousands of people in prison.

We regularly receive letters from our learners and alumni about their achievements both in prison and back in their communities. People like Frank, who had been in and out of prison for more than 30 years before he found his ‘way out’ of crime through education. He is now in his final year at university. Search for their stories, experiences and views below. Some of their letters highlight the barriers that prevent people from learning in prison and through PET's work championing prison education we seek to address their concerns. 


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    “My cell wasn’t a cell - it was an office”: Expelled at 13 to a degree inside: Jermaine's story

    Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) | Learner voice

    Jermaine James spent 13-and-a-half years in a high-security prison, during which time he earned the distinction of becoming the UK’s most highly decorated prisoner. Now released, he is working on a project designed to tackle the social inequality he sees as contributing to the prison system.

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    Not surviving but thriving: Adam's story

    All | Mental Health

    Adam, a former sports champion, talks about how he saw fitness and education help his and other people’s mental health in prison.

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    App of the month - Steven - Science, Technology and Maths Access course

    All | App of the month

    "I am nearly 40 years old and, for the first time in 20 years, I see the light at the end of the tunnel." Stephen, a recovering drug addict, writes from prison in the hope of taking his first steps towards a degree.

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    App of the month - Fred, Business AS Level

    All | Employability

    George got into drugs as a young man and dropped out of school. He wrote to PET applying for an AS Level in Business Studies, with the aim of going to university, and returning to his passion of running music festivals.

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    App of the Month – Wayne, Certificate in Counselling

    All | Learner voice

    Wayne, 36, applies to PET for funding for a Certificate in Counselling and tells us how his experience both in and out of prison will help him become an successful counsellor.

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    ‘Dear Dame Sally’: A teacher speaks up

    All | Teaching

    Dr Laura Firth, who has recently completed a PhD in prison education, was a teacher in prisons for four years before joining mainstream Further Education. In a letter addressed to Dame Sally Coates, she speaks of the huge waste and injustice she saw in the system, and why she believes change is essential.

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    'Education gives you a sense of pride and justice' - Ben's story

    All | Learner voice

    After accessing education himself at HMP Guys Marsh, Ben went on to help dozens of other people take on distance learning, establishing a learning culture and sense of hope in an often hostile environment.

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    Letter of the Month - Ebrima, 23

    All | Distance learning

    Ebrima, 23 from London, wrote to us applying for funding for a health and safety certificate. Having "engulfed" himself in positive activities since going to prison, Ebrima now wants to secure the best possible future for him and his young family.

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    Fit for Release: Neil's Story

    All | Sport

    Neil, a PET learner, shares how he went from involvement in organised crime to working for a major gym chain.

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    Life in the beyond – a learner’s view of enabling environments

    All | Resettlement

    Lesley, 60, recently finished serving a 27-month sentence. During her time in prison she was funded by Prisoners’ Education Trust to complete a course in Project Management. A former teacher, Lesley developed an interest in how to create an ‘enabling environment’ – a place that is supportive and nurturing for its inhabitants.