Our Strategy

PET's 2018 - 2020 strategy is designed to deepen both our impact and influence. It will allow us to provide more, and more meaningful, learning opportunities for people in prison, and to change the system for the better by making a compelling and well-evidenced case for the value of learning. 

PET is ambitious, but we must also be adaptive. Upcoming changes to the prison system, such as the advent of governor autonomy over education budgets, and the increasing digitisation of our prisons, will change the way education is both commissioned and delivered. This strategy helps us to prepare for these changes and to grasp the opportunities offered by them. 

As we approach 2020, our new strategy will help PET equip more prisoners with the tools to transform their lives - creating better futures for our learners, their families and their communities.

Read in full

Spheres of Collaboration 

We will achieve the 2018-2020 strategy by working closely for, and with, three groups: learners, prisons and the wider system.


“Learning in prison brought a different part of my brain to life. I would come out of my cell excited, sharing my knowledge. Prison is such a bizarre experience because it takes away so many years of your life, but I always want to tell people inside that you can get those years back by studying.”

                                       - Michelle, alumna and social enterprise founder. 

Learners are at the centre of our new strategy. 

Last year we funded approximately 3,000 prisoners to study distance learning courses or access arts/hobbies materials. We also provided nearly 1,000 advice sessions to ensure prisoners studied the best course to meet their specific goals and aspirations. 

The expertise and experience of prisoners and ex-prisoners have helped us frame research and policy work, and have helped shaped PET’s processes. Former learners help us to better meet the needs and aspirations of future learners, and they amplify the messages that we share with other service users, the criminal justice sector and the wider public.

From 2018 - 2020, we will:

  • Continue to support individual prison learners to follow courses of education that make a meaningful difference to their lives
  • Maintain and develop our high-quality advice and guidance service
  • Increase the variety and availability of courses by developing digital courses 
  • Support understanding of prisoner education through our own research
  • Develop our understanding of co-production and learner voice and promote their use across the sector
  • Continue to develop an effective alumni network of ex-prisoners 
  • Continue to bring the experience and ideas of our beneficiaries directly to PET’s Board through a trustee with personal experience of education in prison, and through the advisory group of PET alumni 


Prisons and communities 

“We have created a positive work culture with a real cross-section of people from all different backgrounds and beliefs. We have had workers being taught English and Maths, all in the confines of a prison recycling yard.” 

                                                 - Ronnie Spence, Outstanding Officer - PLA Awards, HMP Northumberland

A supportive environment means more people can benefit from the learning opportunities we offer. 

For the past few years, PET has been working more closely with prisons themselves, particularly through our Welsh prison project. We have learnt that the prison environment plays a crucial part in an individual's ability to access education, and to gain the most benefit from it. In a period of increasing governor autonomy, building strong, collaborative relationships with individual prisons, prisoners and prison staff has become all the more essential.

From 2018 - 2020 we will: 

  • Pilot a ‘localised’ service model
  • Support prison staff, learners and peer mentors to create learning communities 
  • Develop the PLA’s Theory of Change further
  • Communicate with service providers in prison and the wider community to deliver an integrated service to support learners in prison, on temporary licence and upon their release
  • Develop our understanding of how to measure and promote a ‘learning culture’ through further work on our survey tool to help prisons become aspirational, engaging, safe, empowering places that change lives


The Wider System 

“The purpose of education in prisons is to give individuals the skills they need to unlock their potential, gain employment and become assets to their communities. It should also build social capital and improve the well being of prisoners during their sentences and once released.”

                                                                           - Ministry of Justice, 2017

Aspirational and effective prison education is only possible if supported by a wide range of stakeholders including central government, the general public, policy makers, academia and others. PET has already achieved major policy changes, notably working as part of the PLA to help shape Dame Sally Coates’ review of prison education, which was accepted in full by the government.

From 2018 to 2020 we will:

  • Work collaboratively to influence and shape policy and practice within the prison system and education sector
  • Continue to engage with opinion formers and policymakers to make the case for prison education in general and distance learning in particular; and to promote the benefits of digital learning
  • Support the case for continuing reform of the prison system in Parliament and more widely
  • Develop our understanding of the needs of our learners, in particular young people, young adults, women and BAME prisoners
  • Continue to support and develop the PLA, the PLAN academic network and the Prison University Partnerships in Learning (PUPiL) network  
  • Continue to develop our expertise in international good practice and research through our links to the European Prison Education Association (EPEA) and other networks

This strategy has been developed over the course of 18 months as we consulted widely with our alumni, staff, trustees and other stakeholders. We have used creative methods to really understand what PET means to our learners and others, and what we could improve. This strategy is also underpinned both by criminological and educational theories, as well as research conducted by PET and others, and current policy.

You can read the full document here

To request a print copy of our 2018 - 2020 strategy, email Katy Oglethorpe