Our champions

Prisoners' Education Trust's Learning Champions

As part of our 25th anniversary celebrations in 2014, our Learning Champions, told us why they believe education in prison is important and a cause worth advocating for. Our 25 champions are from a variety different of backgrounds who all recognise the value of learning for prisoners.

Our Parliamentary Learning Champions

Jenny Chapman MP, Labour’s former Shadow Minister for Prisons, said:
"Learning in prisons is key to reducing crime, reducing victims and making our streets safer. Training and education challenge prisoners to improve their skills, get into employment and build a better life on the outside. It’s a pleasure to support the work of Prisoners’ Education Trust."

Jeremy Corbyn, said:
"We must invest in people’s education while they are in prison so they have opportunities when they are released, whether that is to study further or to work. Failing to invest in people while they are incarcerated will mean we lose them to the criminal justice system, which would be a tragic waste of life and be more costly in the long run. I am very proud to be a Parliamentary Learning Champion for Prisoners’ Education Trust, who are fighting to better the life chances of people who have been imprisoned."




Nick de Bois, former Conservative MP for Enfield North, said:
“Prison cannot be about punishment alone if we wish to reduce the number of people who reoffend. Through education and in particular the distance learning courses offered by PET, prisoners are able to use their time in jail constructively and help build a pathway away from crime.”


Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, crossbench peer, said:
"I am happy to support Prisoners' Education Trust as a Parliamentary Champion.  The power of education cannot be underestimated. Education and learning can significantly change the lives of prisoners by providing the tools needed to cope after release. Education develops us as people and helps us to make the right choices in life."


Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, C.B.E, Conservative peer, said:
“My work as Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prisons has underlined the critical importance of having a job to go to in reducing the likelihood of reoffending. A higher level of educational achievement greatly improves the chances of getting a job, particularly for young people, so the work of organisations like Prisoners' Education Trust is really vital.”

Lord Frank Judd, Labour peer, said:
“Rehabilitation should be the central spinal core of our penal system.  It makes absolute sense economically when seen against the costs of reoffending and it matters fundamentally by enabling prisoners to become self-respecting, confident citizens  who play their part in society on their release.  Well-resourced education is an indispensable and critically important part of such rehabilitation.  It is an imperative which we disregard at our peril."

Baroness Masham of Ilton, crossbench peer, said:
“Education is of the utmost importance in prisons.  Having been a member of a board of visitors at a Young Offenders Institute I found many young people could not read or write and many are dyslexic. This is a problem throughout the prison service. There are many people who volunteer to teach the prisoners to read and write, some of these are amongst the prisoners themselves and should be encouraged at all times."


Paul Maynard, Conservative MP Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said:
“I am delighted to endorse the work of Prisoners' Education Trust. Ensuring those who leave prison are meaningfully rehabilitated not only reduces reoffending, but also benefits society at large, and that means ensuring they have broad access to a range of educational opportunities”.

   Ian Mearns, Labour MP for Gateshead, said:
“I am very aware of Prisoners' Education Trust and the hugely important role they play in the rehabilitation of offenders. Prisoners' Eduction Trust continue to provide offenders with the necessary education to equip them to survive upon their release.”



Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE, crossbench peer, said:
"Everyone should have the right to high quality education including young people who are in custody. We know that education plays a crucial role in improving the outcomes for young offenders. Through this route, they have the potential to go on to achieve the relevant skills and qualifications for employment as well as develop greater individual responsibility and self-discipline. The disproportionately negative outcomes that young black and/or Muslim men experience as a result of experiences in the criminal justice system mean that we need to be vigilant if we are to ensure that every single young offender gains access to high quality educational services."

Our Prison Learning Champions

Sarah Coccia, former Governor at HMP Swaleside, said:
"Learning should be at the absolute centre of a prison’s purpose. Ensuring that we can improve a prisoner’s outlook on life and their chances of succeeding is in turn protecting the public by reducing the risk of re-offending in the future.  Learning can be added or embedded to almost any prison activity and it’s a mind-set and cultural shift rather than newer, glossier classrooms. I am fully committed to learning in Swaleside and it remains one of my top strategic priorities."

Eoin McLennan Murray, former Coldingley Prison Governor, said:
"Education is something that not only helps you with employment opportunities but it stays with you for life and influences most of the major decisions you are ever likely to make. It is simply a real investment for your own future."

Femi Oyeniran, Actor, Director and former prison teacher, said:
"Education is important because it gives you a platform for self development. In my career as an actor, my educational achievements have proven fertile for opportunities that I didn't think were attainable. Education is particularly important within the prison setting as the young people I have worked with are yearning for educational opportunities that will set them up for future progress."

Vicky Pryce, economist and author of Prisonomics, based on her experience of prison, said:
"It is extraordinary that almost half of newly sentenced male prisoners and two thirds of female prisoners have no qualifications at all and a large percentage tend to be unemployed before they enter prison. As I said in my book the evidence overwhelmingly points to the benefits of education in cutting first time offences and reducing reoffending. I saw with my own eyes the difference to prisoners' self esteem and aspiration that educational achievement makes, at both the basic and higher levels and wished there was more access to support services and the internet to facilitate that learning process. Equipping people with the skills they need to be able to gain employment and play a proper part in society when they leave prison is in my view the only way to achieve proper rehabilitation and reduce both short and long term costs to society from crime."

Ed Tullett, former Governor, HMP Brixton, said:
"It is no surprise to anyone who works in prisons that most prisoners are undereducated, often having not completed school or coming out of school without having learnt very much, often with a lack of qualifications.  Prison, however, provides a space in which people can learn and can expand their horizons in a way they never thought possible.  It is here where the PET come in to allow prisoners to take advantage of new possibilities and to be ambitious to learn more and achieve more. This process can provide someone with the key to not only unlocking potential but to prevent further offending.”

 Our Learning Champion Patrons

Lady Elizabeth Andrew OBE said:
“Education is an essential element in any healthy prison regime. It is transformational and offers the possibility of changing lives. Study brings opportunities to expand horizons, and to acquire new skills, whether in artistic, academic, technical or craft fields. Education offers people a chance to be, or to do, something different. This can make it easier to find employment after release, which contributes to reducing the risk of re-offending.”
Sir Christopher Ball said:
"Learning works: prison doesn't.  Imprisonment may remove offenders from society for a time, but it rarely reforms them.  Learning is transformational: the rate of re-offending is markedly lower among those helped by PET.  That is why I am proud to be a Patron of this remarkable charity, which quietly works to make our world a safer, better, kinder place.  Please help PET support even more prisoners. Everyone benefits."
Susan Hill, Author, said:
“I’m proud to be a patron of PET. Education changes lives by helping to break the cycle of crime that people can get caught up in. I share their belief that everyone should have the opportunity to change, and PET helps people to do that.”

Baroness Veronica Linklater said:
"There are few things the Criminal Justice system can offer to young people who become involved in offending more important than the opportunity to learn and catch up on the education so many have missed. The Prisoners Education Trust offers such opportunity and opens the door both to learning and to new horizons.  It is an opportunity beyond price."


Paul Maxlow-Tomlinson said:
"If you can't read and write how can you even make an application for a job? Education levels in prisons are abysmal and PET from small beginnings has worked tirelessly to provide the facilities and help to individuals to improve their learning in both academic and vocational fields. From simple starting levels to University degrees and postgraduate, men and women in prison have achieved successful conclusions and found self-confidence and a new start."

Lord David Ramsbotham said:
“I’ve been meeting prisoners, and making the case for decent prisons, since I was appointed Chief Inspector of Prisons in 1995.  During that time I’ve grown ever more certain that education plays an enormous part in changing prisoner’s lives.  That’s why I’m a Patron of the Prisoners' Education Trust.”

PET's President, His Honour John Samuels QC, said:
“My belief is: educational achievement enhances self-esteem; when you feel good about your achievement you are at peace with the world and when you are calm and contented, criminal activity is the last thing you want. Three small propositions: three giant steps in reducing reoffending.”


Michael Smyth CBE, QC (Hon) said:
"If prison is to intended to do more than punish, then it must surely have education at its core. Education is not just about learning for its own sake, but about acquiring the skills to make the right choices in life. There could be no more obvious group to acquire those skills than those who have made some bad choices in life. PET's work has never been more important."

Baroness Stern said:
“I have been pleased to support the work of Prisoners' Education Trust since it was set up in 1989. Its contribution to the prison system has been substantial. Having access to a range of educational opportunities can make a big difference to life in prison and to prospects on release. Getting involved in an educational course can make the experience of imprisonment less damaging and can help prisoners to keep in touch with the wider world outside the walls and boost their self-confidence.  I hope that in the next 25 years PET will do even more to improve the opportunities available to prisoners.”

  Th Rt Hon, the Lord Woolf, said:
“Prisoners’ Education Trust makes an immensely valuable contribution through supporting self-directed learning for thousands of prisoners; the statistical evidence shows how it reduces subsequent re-offending. With greater resources and the right support system it could do even more to achieve the just, effective, economic and successful prison system I called for nearly two decades ago.”