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UK Report: ‘Unlocking potential: a review of education in prison’

16th May 2016

This report from gives a detailed review of the state of education provision in the UK prison system, and makes recommendations mainly directed at public sector prisons in England, and makes recommendations mainly directed at public sector prisons in England, but with the principles set out also to be applicable to the private estate, and Wales. Dame Sally Coates chaired this independent review at the request of the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State.

The report states that the levels of education of most prisoners is far below national averages as regards literacy and numeracy. Education provides avenues for employment opportunities on release from prison, and a means of desisting from criminal behaviour in the future, and as such is one of the pillars of rehabilitation. The report further notes that his aim is not being fulfilled systematically and a more uniform approach is required.

Key Recommendations from the Report:

  • Prison Governors should be responsible and accountable for the education of all prisoners;
  • There must be a culture of support of skill development amongst prisoners and staff, and new talent must be hired into prisons;
  •  Governors should take a personalised approach towards the development of education practices in respect of each prisoner;
  • Education must be able to fulfil specific aspirations, such as access to vocational qualification and higher education;
  • Prisoners must be given the opportunity to use and develop their digital skills if they are to receive employment;
  • The roles of existing organisations involved in the education of prisoners should be re-examined. Additionally, further supports for employers who hire ex-prisoners should be explored;
  • Reforms to the system of education in prisons should be done in phases, to be completed by August 2017.

To read the full report click here

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