PLA Conference 2015

The Aspirational Prison: Achieving Excellence through Engagement and Progression

The Prisoner Learning Alliance's second Annual Conference was held at Leeds Beckett University on Friday 11th September. The event launched with an exclusive video message from the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove. 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.

The Justice Secretary said: “I don’t think there is anything more important than making sure that when we have people in our care, in custody, that we give them an opportunity to change their lives for the better and nothing is more central to that act of rehabilitation or redemption than education…Having visited prisons and seen the impact that education can have on offenders, one of the best ways of providing people who’ve perhaps made wrong choices in the past with the right path in the future is high quality education… This is an opportunity to transform education for the better and to give thousands of individuals for whom we’re responsible a new start in life.”

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, then gave the keynote address. Discussing the idea of an ‘Aspirational Prison’, he spoke about the importance of staff engaging prisoners to learn and keep progressing with their education. See the downloads below to find out more about the launch of the event or read more about the conference lectures.

This free all day event welcomed an audience of 125 practitioners, including prison staff, teachers, education managers, Heads of Learning and Skills and organisations delivering learning programmes in prisons. Delegates had a choice of eight specialist workshops to attend, which offered best practice examples and ideas to engage prisoners with learning and help them to progress with their education and career goals.

The PLA will also celebrate the hard work and achievements of education staff, officers and prisoner mentors by giving out its first awards to learning champions nominated by prisoner learners. Read about our inaugural awards ceremony.

Audience feedback:

‘Thanks for a very enjoyable day. As a winner of the 'Outstanding Officer' award I was somewhat humbled with the comments made. I like many other Prison Officers work hard to try to encourage change in the people that we work with, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but we keep on trying, this is not always recognised. So days like today help’. Prison officer award winner.

‘I enjoyed it and gained inspiration and insight from all of the speakers. I found it useful to hear about the citizens curriculum and employment mindset qualifications. The theme was inspirational. The highlight was hearing the ex-offenders and seeing the awards. As a result I am going to motivate my team to remain inspirational, continue to develop the curriculum and listen to learners more.’ Curriculum team leader and tutor.

"I thought the conference good, very informative. I attended one of the workshops in the afternoon and the Head of Learning and Skills at Swalesdide gave a talk on what they are doing there. Am particularly impressed by the notion of prisoners and staff studying together. That will break down barriers for sure." Eric Allison, Prisons correspondent for The Guardian