Learners' Stories

Over the past 25 years Prisoners' Education Trust (PET) has helped thousands of people in prison.

We regularly receive letters from our learners and alumni about their achievements both in prison and back in their communities. People like Frank, who had been in and out of prison for more than 30 years before he found his ‘way out’ of crime through education. He is now in his final year at university. Search for their stories, experiences and views below. Some of their letters highlight the barriers that prevent people from learning in prison and through PET's work championing prison education we seek to address their concerns. 


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    Life in the beyond – a learner’s view of enabling environments

    All | Resettlement

    Lesley, 60, recently finished serving a 27-month sentence. During her time in prison she was funded by Prisoners’ Education Trust to complete a course in Project Management. A former teacher, Lesley developed an interest in how to create an ‘enabling environment’ – a place that is supportive and nurturing for its inhabitants.

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    From prisoner to case manager - Karen's story

    Women | Women

    When Karen, 52, went to court in 2012, everyone assured her that she'd be back home that evening. A mother of a young child, with no criminal record, accused of a non-violent offence, she was an unlikely candidate for a custodial sentence. But Karen's time in prison proved a powerful experience - so much so that the day after release she returned to act as a case worker for the women she once served alongside.

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    Poetry in commotion

    All | Arts

    To mark World Poetry Day, PET reflects on the transformative power of verse and shares some poems penned in prison.

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    Family voice: Let families be an active part of the rehabilitation process in custody

    Young people | Family learning

    Speaking at PETs third annual symposium about young people and young adults learning needs, Mary, the sister of a serving prisoner, reminds us of the importance of involving families in the rehabilitation process.

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    Volunteering with Sue Ryder

    All | Learner voice

    Mirriam, one of PET's learners, writes about the important skills she has been gaining volunteering with the charity Sue Ryder whilst on release on temporary licence (ROTL) under their Prison Volunteer Programme.

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    Paul's journey back into work

    Ex-prisoners | Employability

    Paul, an ex-prisoner, shares his inspirational story. Whilst Paul was serving his sentence in a prison in the South West of England, he enrolled on a vocational training course with n-ergy. Read his story.

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    Studying GCSEs in prison

    All | Education

    As students all over the country get their GCSE results this week, Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) spoke to some of its prisoner learners to find out about their experiences of studying at this level in prison.

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    A prisoner describes his distance learning coordinator role

    All | Distance learning

    Al, a long sentenced prisoners, describes a role he has taken on assisting education staff as a prison Distance Learning Coordinator: “I work in the education department as an administrator for my main job, doing filing, flyers and general admin. I also help with the Careers Advice Service. I try to offer a complete service to advertise and support students moving on to further study."

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    My degree: lock downs, noise, strain and certificates

    All | Distance learning

    Ben, a prisoner who is now studying his second Open University degree in prison, strongly believes that education has had a profound impact on his life but it has been both rewarding and challenging. In a letter to Prisoners' Education Trust, he describes his experiences.

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    Michael Kinsella's return to the beautiful game

    Ex-prisoners | Sport

    As a young man, Michael Kinsella was regarded as one of England’s promising youth football prospects, but after finding himself being released by a professional club at the age 20 Michael found himself falling into a life of crime, dealing drugs and going in and out of prison. It was during a seven year sentence that Michael discovered education could help him return to the game.