PET learner’s graduation ceremony

17 Jul 2014

On Wednesday 17 July 2014 staff from Prisoners' Education Trust (PET) joined a group of Open University professors for a prison learner’s degree ceremony. Carl was awarded a certificate for his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics in front of his parents and two sisters who were together for the first time in nine years.

Carl began his OU course with support from PET in 2007 and he overcame many difficulties including several transfers and a lack of access to basic resources. Last year his sister Mary wrote about his experience and the OU’s Nigel Gibson said he was the ‘perfect learner’. He is now continuing his studies with a new course in business and he has also become an advocate for distance learning and education to others in the prison community.

John Samuels speaking at graduation ceremony

As Carl stood up to accept his certificates he spoke eloquently about his experience of studying and the benefits it has brought to him,  gave thanks to PET, prison education staff and officers, OU staff and most importantly, his family.

Carl said: “I want to thank PET for getting me started and supporting my studies in the early days when I couldn’t get help elsewhere. The OU have also been hugely supportive, I had so many encouraging tutors and it was great to get feedback on my assignments. And I also appreciate the help I’ve had from some of the education departments and prison staff for making it possible for me to continue my studies. Most of all I want to thank my family for always being there and supporting me in so many ways. I’m still continuing my education now, I just want to keep learning something new, I can’t study enough.”

Carl’s family have been extremely supportive, his father used to send him old exam papers to help him practice and his mother encouraged him to write her letters using new words each time to improve his vocabulary, she says: “I always encouraged him and his sisters to learn. I am so pleased he has got there now.” 

PET's President John Samuels also presented him with a surprise Adult Learners’ Week Award Certificate of Achievement, which PET nominated him for. Addressing Carl, he said: “It is a personal privilege for me to present this certificate to you. We are all very proud of you and impressed with your determination and strength of character to succeed against the odds, having overcome the many difficulties of prison life. It is clear how much education has transformed your life.”

Read a recent letter from Carl.