Prison staff

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PET wouldn’t be able to transform lives without the support of the officers and education staff who work in prisons.

On this page, you can find an overview of how we work in prisons and answers to some frequently asked questions – whether you’re preparing learners to study at a higher level, supporting the application process, or helping people through courses.

More detailed information can be found in our dedicated staff area.

Create a prison staff account

Distance learning gives people in prison the chance to take courses in levels and subjects that might otherwise not be available – studying at their own pace, and often in their own cell.

For the learner, it’s a chance to gain meaningful, higher-level qualifications in subjects that interest them. For the prison, it’s a way to offer a wider variety of courses without the cost of running whole classes. The cost to the prison is very low – we ask for a contribution of 10% per course, equalling on average £30.

The returns on this investment are significant. Research by the Ministry of Justice shows that PET learners are less likely to reoffend and more likely to find work after release.

Distance learning can have a positive impact on wellbeing and self-esteem, can help build stronger connections between prisoners and their families, and can help create a more positive prison culture.

Read more about our impact

We offer around 250 different courses not usually available through prison education departments – from book-keeping to beekeeping; plumbing to philosophy, including GCSEs, A Levels and the first parts of degrees.

Discover our range of courses

Before applying, learners should meet the following criteria:

  • Be resident in a prison in England or Wales
  • Have six months or more left to serve on their sentence
  • Have gained Level 2 English and/or Maths, or the equivalent
  • Not be studying another PET course at the same time

Under prison rules, people who have committed certain offences cannot complete certain courses. Find a full list of these courses in our dedicated staff area.

If the applicant matches the criteria listed above, PET looks to fund people who can show:

  • Prior educational participation and achievement
  • Commitment to completing their chosen course
  • A clear idea of how the course will benefit them

Every application must be endorsed by a prison staff member, who should confirm that:

  • The applicant is at the right level to complete the course
  • The prison is able to support the learner with the course

Please note: PET aims to fund everyone who meets our criteria. However, we are a charity and due to funding restrictions we occasionally have to turn suitable people down. We appreciate this will cause disappointment for both staff and students, and we will endeavour to explain our decision fully and to suggest applying again in the future, where appropriate.

You can find our application forms, curriculum and other resources to support your work in our dedicated staff login area.

Each prison should have a nominated point of contact, who helps support prisoners’ applications to PET. If you do not have a point of contact, or wish to inform us of a change in staffing, please get in touch with PET’s Access to Learning team.

Create a prison staff account

Our dedicated staff area contains resources to help you support learners through the whole journey – from applying for distance learning to completing their course.

Our friendly, expert teams in London and Cardiff are also available should you need additional help and advice – just get in touch with our Access to Learning team.

Create a prison staff account

We welcome applications from serving prisoners we have previously funded, as long as they have completed their previous course.

Our Continue with Education section has more information about carrying on with education in the community – from distance learning courses to university study.

Find out about carrying on with education in the community

Are you passionate about delivering education that changes lives? Do you want to share your ideas and help influence change?

We are looking for prison education staff to join the Prisoner Learning Alliance (PLA), a network of organisations and individuals using its collective voice to improve prison education.

Join the PLA here

If you want to get in touch about a specific learner or course, or need additional help and advice, you can email our Access to Learning team.

© Prisoners' Education Trust 2019

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