OLASS shakeup: a quiet victory for the PLA

30 Nov 2016

On 1 October the Prisoner Learning Alliance secured a quiet, but crucial, victory in improving prison education provision.

In the days after the 2015 general election, the Prisoner Learning Alliance published a policy briefing called ‘The Future of Prison Education Contracts: Delivering Better Outcomes’.

The briefing set out ways in which the prison education, or OLASS, contracts and the funding mechanism could be made more flexible to fit the needs of individual learners and different prison populations. There were eight themes including engagement, progression, personal social development, technology and through-the-gate planning.

The PLA is delighted that from 1 October the OLASS contract and funding mechanism changed to incorporate much greater flexibilities. As well as the current funding for individual qualifications and for the universal assessments of literacy and numeracy, there are now three additional funding streams.  One is: ‘Engagement and Progression’ which could include arts, informal learning, family learning, Level 3 learning or through-the-gate support. The second, ‘Enablers of Learning’, can be used to provide distance learning coordinators, technology or other ‘on costs’ for example. There is also a new ‘catch all’ funding stream to cover miscellaneous costs such as learner-voice activities or additional support for students with Learning Difficulties and Learning Disabilities.

These contracts will run until Summer 2017. After that, governors will take full control of the education budget and will decide if they continue with the current arrangements and providers or make further changes.  The PLA is working with Education, Training Foundation and others to support governors in this new role.

We are keen to monitor the difference the new funding streams are making on the ground, so please let us know your experiences and thoughts. Also if you have a Governor who is doing great work promoting a whole prison approach to education, we want to hear about it! Email PET’s Head of Policy Nina Champion.