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This strengthening relationship is pushing the boundaries of both institutions, with the benefits being felt by students, prisoners and staff across both the prison and the university.

Phil Novis, governor, HMP Leicester

This page shows where prison-university partnerships are happening in the UK. If you know of a partnership that’s missing from here, please get in touch with our Academic Networks officer Rosie.

Cardiff Metropolitan University | HMP Prescoed |

Cardiff Metropolitan University HMP Prescoed

Model: Various

Cardiff Metropolitan University lecturers teach a cohort of HMP Prescoed students who are taking part in the Chase alcohol and substance misuse programme. Learners at HMP Prescoed can also study teaching, on the Teaching Adults course. This is a Level 3, 10 credit course accredited through the Cardiff Met University. The course is intended to give the opportunity to see if teaching is for you and would lead on to the PCET course and ultimately on to the PGCE in post compulsory Education & Training.

University of Cambridge | HMP Grendon | HMP Spring Hill | HMP Whitemoor |

University of Cambridge HMP Grendon, HMP Spring Hill, HMP Whitemoor

Model: Learning Together

A collaborative learning partnership between Cambridge University and HMP Grendon was the first under the Learning Together model, pioneered by Drs Amy Ludlow and Ruth Armstrong. It has run annually from 2015. The course comprises a series of 10 sessions delivered by guest lecturers. A key selection criterion for all participants is a desire to learn, and the main aim of the programme is to provide an empowering learning space through which routes out of prison can be achieved. Partnerships now take place between many departments at Cambridge and a range of prisons, offering a broad variety of subjects.

University of Central Lancashire | HMP Kirkham |

University of Central Lancashire HMP Kirkham

Model: Learning Together

This is an annual project that is available to 3rd year criminology/law students, and prisoners at HMP Kirkham. The module centres around debating current social issues. Debate topics last year included: banning tobacco in the UK, abolishing the British monarchy, the legalisation of euthanasia, and the dangers of the internet. The aim of these sessions is to break down boundaries and to create a positive learning environment where students and prisoners can develop debating techniques, discuss relevant topics and learn to create coherent arguments.

University of Cumbria | HMP Haverigg |

University of Cumbria HMP Haverigg

Model: Learning Together

De Montfort University | HMP Gartree | HMP Leicester |

De Montfort University HMP Gartree, HMP Leicester

Model: Various, including Learning Together

“This strengthening relationship is pushing the boundaries of both institutions, with the benefits being felt by students, prisoners and staff across both the prison and the university.” – Phil Novis, governor, HMP Leicester

De Montfort University has been working collaboratively to deliver courses in Criminology with HMP Gartree since November 2016. These five session courses are structured primarily around group work and discussion, but time is provided for voluntary written individual responses and reflections. In 2016 students from De Montfort University and HMP Leicester joined together for an intensive short criminology module. Led by Ross Little, a criminology lecturer at De Montfort, and supported by Phil Novis, then Governor at HMP Leicester, 17 students were brought together to discuss criminological controversies over a week-long course.

Durham University | HMP Durham | HMP Frankland | HMP Low Newton | HMYOI Deerbolt |

Durham University HMP Durham, HMP Frankland, HMP Low Newton

Model: Various, including Inside Out

Inside Out: All third year criminology undergraduates at Durham and some Masters students have the option to complete a credit-bearing criminology module inside a nearby prison for one afternoon each week over 10 weeks. Durham University operates a rolling programme of undergraduate and postgraduate Inside-Out courses, as well as one-off master classes, at HMP Frankland Category A men’s prison, HMP Durham Category B men’s prison and HMP Low Newton women’s prison.

Think Like a Scientist: This science education programme ran for the first time in HMP Low Newton in spring 2019. Following great feedback, Dr Phil Heron (its founder) is now running the project in HMYOI Deerbolt. The programme is open to learners at all levels and asks questions like what are we trying to find out? how do we test that? can we confirm a result? what else do we need to know to be sure of our findings? By the end of the course all students should be able to understand the three main pillars of thinking like a scientist: ‘understanding, analysing and communicating’.

University of East Anglia | HMP Hollesley Bay | HMP Warren Hill | HMP Whitemoor |

University of East Anglia HMP Hollesley Bay, HMP Whitemoor, HMP Warren Hill

Model: The Crito Project

The Crito Project is an organisation whose purpose is to provide a degree-level education in philosophy, logic and ethics to prisoners serving their sentences in the East of England. The Project has been active since 2013 and has expanded to the point where it is delivering education across three prisons. The Crito Project’s academic provision is overseen and endorsed by the University of East Anglia’s Philosophy Department. Expectations of the course director are high, and pupils are taught to a degree level, with the assumption being that educational achievement is predicated upon both frankness and equality.

University of East London | HMP & HMYOI Isis | HMP Aylesbury |

University of East London HMP Aylesbury, HMP & HMYOI Isis

Model: Various, including Teach Together

Edge Hill University | HMP Thorn Cross |

Edge Hill University HMP Thorn Cross

Model: Learning Together

The partnership between Edge Hill University and HMP Thorn Cross was set up and rolled out in 2017. The partnership is funded by Edge Hill University and has been validated for an initial period of five years. Edge Hill have worked closely with partners at HMP Thorn Cross and Novus (the in-house education provider) who have supported this project, supplying education support and teaching facilities.

University of Edinburgh | HMP Cornton Vale | HMP Low Moss | HMP Schotts |

University of Edinburgh HMP Schotts, HMP Low Moss, HMP Cornton Vale

Model: CoPI (Community of Philosophical Enquiry)

Low Moss and Cornton Vale prisons offered seven-week Introduction to Philosophy courses to prisoners, adapting a successful MOOC (Massively Online Open Course) offered by University of Edinburgh academics. The courses were designed by Philosophy researchers at Edinburgh, and is delivered through small-group tutorials by postgraduate students. Tutorials took the format of guided discussions using the Community of Philosophical Inquiry (CoPI) format, a pedagogical method which does not presuppose any particular knowledge or literacy level from students and which work to strip away prisoners’ previous assumptions about themselves and the world.

© Prisoners' Education Trust 2019

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