Prisoners' Education Trust responds to ‘dismal’ HMIP report

14 Jul 2015

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons annual report published today (Tuesday 14th July) underlines the urgent need for education in prison to be given a higher priority in response to ‘dismal’ learning outcomes noted by inspectors, Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) says.

The 2014-15 report shows purposeful activity, which includes work, training and education had the worst outcomes in 10 years.

Prisoners were locked up in their cells for longer, overcrowding meant only 16 out of 42 men’s prisons had sufficient activity places for the population and the overall standard of teaching and learning was rated by Ofsted as ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ in just under two-thirds of prisons inspected.

In the report, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, writes:

“Our judgement that purposeful activity outcomes were only good or reasonably good in 25% of the adult male prisons we inspected is therefore of profound concern. These are the worst outcomes since we began measuring them in 2005–06. The disappointing findings reflected both the quantity and the quality of activity.”

Rod Clark, Chief Executive, Prisoners Education Trust, (PET) said:

“This damning report tells the story of a system in decline on every level, and particularly in the very areas that are so crucial to the rehabilitation of prisoners. These are the worst results inspectors have seen for 10 years with staffing and safety pressures on prisons curbing activities designed to help prisoners move away from crime.

“The tragic incidents of violence and decline in safety are of particularly concern and we agree with the Chief Inspector’s observation that prisoners are unlikely to concentrate in education if they are constantly looking fearfully over their shoulders. Prisoners need opportunities to be able to progress in their learning in order to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, this report finds that frequently prisoners worked at levels below their capability and were insufficiently challenged to progress, becoming bored and disengaged.  

“Education is proven to make people less likely to reoffend. It gives them the opportunity to transform their lives and to make a positive contribution to their families and society. The report is right to recognise the achievement of HMP Hollesley Bay and HMP Askham Grange, the only two prisons to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rating, and that inspections of women’s prisons were more positive.

“But overall, this report chimes with our experience over the past year, that in prisons struggling to cope with overcrowding, staff shortages and restricted regimes, education is simply not a priority. It means that rather than introducing a full working day, this report highlights that one in five men are locked up for most of the day and therefore unable to attend courses or workshops where they could be using their time productively.”

Editor’s Notes:

Case studies and interviews with former prisoners whose lives have been transformed by education are available on request.

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


HM Inspectorate of prisons’ annual report

About Us

Since 1989, Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) has supported prisoners to engage in rehabilitation through learning. The charity does this by providing advice and funding for approximately 2,000 people per year for distance learning courses in subjects and levels not generally available in prisons. PET also carries out research, informed by prisoner learners, to improve prison education policies.

A recent report was carried out by the MoJ Justice Data Lab, published in January 2014 which shows people supported by PET to study distance learning courses in prison are more than a quarter less likely to reoffend than a matched control group of other ex-prisoners.