Evaluation of Leeds Beckett University Prison: Learning Together Programme 2017

Published: Oct 2018

Suzanne Young

Background to the Evaluation

• This evaluation aimed to explore students’ experiences of the 2017 Leeds Beckett Prison: Learning Together module. The module consisted of 11 3rd year undergraduate criminology students studying alongside 12 men residing in HMP Full Sutton.
• The evaluation explored students’ rationales for undertaking the module, their feedback on the module and the impacts the module has had.
• The evaluation was undertaken using individual semi-structured interviews with 10 of the Full Sutton students and all the Leeds Beckett students at the end of the module.

Key Findings
• There were various motivations for undertaking the Prison: Learning Together module. The main motivating factors for Leeds Beckett students were; skills enhancement, employability and the unique opportunity to learn alongside people in prison. For the Full Sutton students, it was the chance to undertake higher education and the topic of criminology that interested them.
• There were preconceptions held by the Full Sutton and Leeds Beckett students prior to the module commencing. The Leeds Beckett students held some negative stereotypes about people in prison. The Full Sutton students were concerned about the motivations of students and worried about their own ability to undertake higher education.
• The taught sessions received very positive feedback. Students enjoyed the guest lecturers and working in their peer groups. Students recommended longer sessions to allow more time to get to know their peers. Full Sutton students benefited from the learning environment and found the content important to understanding their position in the prison. The Full Sutton students would like to see a range of subjects delivered in this format. The three most popular subject areas are politics, sociology and economics.
• The students reported positive relationships with each other. The groups all worked well together, and all students were able to learn from each other.
• Overall the relationships between students and staff was positive. The Full Sutton students reported that some prison officers were less accommodating than others but had support from the prison governor and senior management.
• The students faced various challenges on the module. The most frequent difficulties for the Leeds Beckett students were leaving the module and challenging their own beliefs. Confidence was the main challenge reported by the Full Sutton students.