PLA Conference 2017


The 2017 PLA Conference took place on 14 September at De Montfort University, Leicester.

2016-17 was a year of significant change for prison education, with three new funding flexibilities introduced for education providers, and increasing powers for individual prisons and governors to commission services. Accordingly, the conference took the theme 'Doing Things Differently: A New Era for Prison Education', focusing on the different ways in which prisons, providers and third sector organisations were adapting to this changing landscape.

View the full agenda

In between presentations and discussions by three expert panels (see below), delegates had a choice of twelve different workshops to attend on the day.

These showcased some of the innovative approaches being implemented to improve outcomes for prisoner learners – approaches that, with the new flexibilities in OLASS funding to include Enablers of Learning and Engagement and Progression Learning, could become more widespread in future.

The conference also featured the third annual PLA awards ceremony, recognising people who have made outstanding contributions to learning in prison, all nominated by serving prisoners. The awards were presented by X-Factor winner and former prison officer at HMP Gartree, Sam Bailey. Meet the winners and hear their inspirational stories here. 

Read about the awards here


Portions of the day were filmed and streamed via Facebook Live – see links below to watch again.

List of chair and speaker biographies

Introduction to the PLA and PLA Conference

Nina Champion, Head of Policy, Prisoners’ Education Trust (@PrisonersEd)
View slides

Updates from the Ministry of Justice

Richard Ward, Prison Education (Prison Reform Policy, Offender Reform and Commissioning Group), Ministry of Justice (@MoJGovUK)

Click here to read a summary of Richard Ward's presentation:
'MoJ on education: balancing autonomy with consistency'

View slides

To watch the presentation, click the video above.

Panel 1
‘Doing Things Differently: Commissioning, Collaboration and Co-Production’

  • Commissioning – Phil Novis - Governor, HMP Leicester  (@no1govhmpleic)
  • Collaboration – Ross Little - Senior Lecturer, De Montfort University  (@virtuallyross)
  • Co-Production – Sally Garratt - Director of Operations, Novus  (@GarrattSally)
                            Patrick – Former Student Council Chair, HMP Wymott
  • Audience Q & A
    Chair: Nina Champion - Head of Policy, Prisoners’ Education Trust (@PrisonersEd)

To watch this panel, click the video above.


PLA Awards 2017

Explore the awards and meet the winners

Panel 2
‘Learning lessons from the PLA Awards to improve recruitment and professional development of staff’

  • Chair: Dr. Angela Herbert MBE - Director, IOTC-solutions
  • Bobby Kasanga – Writer; Founder, Hackney Wick Football Club; PET Alumnus (@RobertKasanga)
  • Russ Trent – Governor, HMP Berwyn (@RussellTrent1)
  • Maria Navarro – National Lead for Offender Learning, Ofsted (@Ofstednews)
  • Audience Q & A

Click below to read a summary of this panel:
'The values that build outstanding educators'

Panel 3
‘Doing things differently: Creativity, Community and Computers’

  • Creativity – Carlotta Allum - Founder, Stretch  (@STRETCHcharity)
  • Community - Neville Brooks - Lead Consultant, njb-consultancy  (@NJB_Consultancy)
  • Computers - Dr. Victoria Knight - Senior Research Fellow, De Montfort University  (@Vicknight18)        
  • Audience Q & A
    Chair: Nina Champion - Head of Policy, Prisoners’ Education Trust  (@PrisonersEd)

Click below to read a summary of this panel:
'Drugs and 'Digital Revolutions' in Prisons'

 For details of the twelve workshops that took place throughout the day, click here.