Prison education today

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In April 2019, new education contracts came into place in English prisons. This created significant change and, in some places, turmoil. A year later, in March 2020, as the contracts were bedding in, the Covid-19 crisis struck.

Prisons and Covid-19: Education in lockdown

Since March 2020, prisons have been in lockdown. There are no family visits. Prison education teams – teachers and tutors – have not been able to go into prisons. This means that face-to-face education has stopped. Prisoners are locked in their cells – usually for 23 hours a day. This is an incredibly difficult time to be in prison.

Unlike in the community, prisoners have no access to the internet. This means they cannot access information and web-based education or communicate online. This leaves prison learners at a significant disadvantage, and means they are missing out on education.

At PET, we are advocating for prisoners to have access to digital technology and are working with HMPPS to raise our concerns.

To find out more about the situation in prisons during Covid-19, download our summary of HMIP’s short scrutiny reports.


In-cell and distance learning

During the Covid-19 crisis, distance learning has become even more important for prison learners. PET are working to ensure as many people as possible can still access their distance learning courses.

PET has also contributed to the In Cell Activity Hub, compiled by the Prisoner Learning Alliance. This collates resources that can be printed and given to prisoners to use in cell.


What will happen next?

After three months in severe lockdown the prison service is now looking at how it might provide socially-distanced education. This is very complicated in a prison environment and will involve lots of planning and risk assessments. We hope that this will happen as soon as is safely possible and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

If you have any queries or comments about education in prison, please contact our policy team.

Read some of our latest prison education blog posts:

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