Conference celebrates outstanding teachers, staff and prisoners

11 Sep 2015

Today (Friday 11th September), Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons will give a keynote speech at the Prisoner Learning Alliance’s (PLA) Annual Conference at Leeds Beckett University. Discussing the idea of an ‘Aspirational Prison’, he is expected to focus on ways staff can engage prisoners to learn and keep progressing with their education.

The audience, which include staff and organisations delivering learning in prisons, will also hear from the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, via an exclusive video message. Following his announcement earlier this week to review prison education, he recognises the vital importance of teachers in offering high quality education to help prisoners change their lives.

For the first time, the PLA is giving out awards to outstanding teachers, prisoner peer mentors and officers who have gone the extra mile in inspiring others to learn.

PLA Chair Alexandra Marks said:

“I am delighted that this year’s PLA conference is celebrating the achievements of so many excellent teachers, prisoner mentors, officers and organisations who are going above and beyond to encourage and engage prisoners in education and build communities of learners.

“This event is bringing together a wealth of expertise to offer leadership and share experience so that even more men and women in prison can benefit from the opportunities that education provides.”

Other speakers include prison staff from HMP Hollesley Bay, which was this year awarded an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted inspection and a panel of ex-prisoner learners leading an expert discussion, chaired by Eric Allison, The Guardian.

Throughout the day several specialist workshops aim to spread best practice and ideas to engage prisoners with learning and help them to progress with their education and career goals.

Editor's Notes

This year’s event,The Aspirational Prison: Achieving Excellence through Engagement and Progression’ is the second annual PLA conference. See a full agenda and details about the event

For interviews, photos or further information please contact Susannah Henty (PET), Media Manager:; 020 3752 5676 or visit

PLA carries out research, informed by its members, prison staff and prisoner learners, to improve prison education policies. Read the PLA’s briefing on the Future of Prison Education Contracts, published May 2015 and its first report, Smart Rehabilitation, published December 2013.

About Us

The Prisoner Learning Alliance was formed in 2012 by the charity Prisoners’ Education Trust ‘to provide expertise and vision to inform future priorities, policies and practices relating to prison education, learning and skills’. It now brings together 23 expert organisations who work to champion learning for people in prison.

For the full list of members visit: