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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    Award for architect student

    Older prisoners | Distance learning

    Staff from the Premier School of Building have recently awarded a certificate of merit to 47 year old James who has recently completed an Architectural and Building Drawing diploma, with support from Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET).

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    PET's 30,000th grant grows Duncan's gardening business

    All | Employability

    Our 30,000th grant recipient Duncan, writes to Prisoners' Education Trust about his motivation for studying a Landscaping Level 3 course. He writes: "My wife runs a garden design and maintenance business...I’d like to be able to make a more professional and informed contribution to her business."

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    Jon: "I changed from a prisoner to a student"

    All | Distance learning

    Jon, one of Prisoners' Education Trust's current learners, writes: "I believe there is a recipe for higher education in prison, a recipe consisting of: inspiration, opportunity, engagement and support."

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    Letter: drawing helps Steve overcome depression

    All | Arts

    After suffering with depression for a long time artist Steve set fire to his flat and lost everything. When he found himself in prison he had no self belief, but slowly with support from tutors and PET he began drawing again and regained his confidence. Read his letter.

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    Day release helped Jason rejoin society

    All | Education

    Jason went to prison aged 17 and was released just before he turned 30. After such a long sentence he found the Release on Temporary License (ROTL) scheme crucial in enabling him to adjust back to society.

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    Simon: “Education and books set me free.”

    Ex-prisoners | Distance learning

    Simon Short, 31, has spent the past three and half years since leaving prison developing a social enterprise that aims to reduce reoffending after he studied an Open University degree funded by Prisoners Education Trust (PET) in Psychology during his sentence. He says: “Education and books set me free.”

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    Juan: "Education helped me cope during my sentence."

    All | Distance learning

    Education helped Juan*, now 43, cope with an eight year prison sentence. As well as developing his love of learning and helping others by assisting the teacher in class, he says education felt safe. Juan said: “Education helps to cut violence, bullying and self-harming.”

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    Julio develops a career as an artist

    Ex-prisoners | Arts

    With no prior experience of painting, Julio Osorio became a prolific artist in prison, producing 60 paintings, one of which is currently being exhibited in London’s prestigious Southbank Centre until 30 November 2014.

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    Jermaine: volunteering on temporary release

    All | Resettlement

    As a volunteer helping unemployed people to find work, each day 35 year old Jermaine leaves prison on temporary release he uses the skills he learned studying Open University business courses with support from Prisoners' Education Trust (PET).

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    Letter: Six year study rule is a barrier for prisoners

    All | Learner voice

    Adam, a serving prisoner, writes to express his gratitude to Prisoners' Education Trust after gaining a 1st in his degree. He also highlights the disadvantages the current rules requiring prisoners to be within six years of their release date before being allowed to study an Open University course. A key recommendation of PET's new Brain Cells report (published 24 September 2014) asks the government to lift time restrictions on any higher level study.