Animation: Children and dads help spread the value of education in prison

22 Dec 2017

"I think education is really important no matter how old you are – if you’re old, young if you’re kind of in the middle you should never stop educating yourself." Jack, 10

Children of serving prisoners have joined their fathers to help produce an animated film showing the positive impact of education inside.

The film, produced by Prisoners’ Education Trust, involved nine children, two mums, six dads, and one grandfather. It includes drawings by the children and the voices of children and fathers. It was produced and recorded in the Families Wing of HMP Parc, Bridgend.

PET funds over 3,000 courses a year for people in prison, in subjects and levels otherwise unavailable. Accessing education has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of reoffending after release, helping secure better futures both for individuals and their families.

Simon, who received PET funding for a health and safety qualification, and also teaches fellow prisoners, said sharing common ground over education has helped him keep a close connection with his daughter.

“She’s doing the same things in Maths at the moment that I’m teaching. She hasn’t quite come up to my level yet but I hope she does. I phone her every Sunday night to make sure she has done her homework. She knows my role in prison as a teacher so she gets me to help her with her sums when she comes to visit.”

In a three-day workshop to produce the film, fathers and their children had the chance to tell to each other what they were learning about.

“I have learnt about rivers in school and we did a rap about rivers with my class in assembly,” said Riya, 8. Her father, Ash, shared his experience of taking NVQs in recycling, waste management and customer service.

“Instead of being in a classroom, it’s more about going outside and doing more practical work,” he explained. “We get a certificate at the end of it. It makes me feel good when I do an NVQ, but it was scary getting tested and I still get nervous when I submit a piece of work.”

Kieren, a father of two, said PET funding to complete drug and alcohol counselling courses has changed his perspective and ambitions for the future.

He said: 

“I want to be a drug and alcohol counsellor. I’m a recovering alcoholic, and I want to help others who are stuck in addiction; let them see that I’ve been where they’ve been and that there’s always a way out - I do believe in that.”

200,000 children in England and Wales are affected by parental imprisonment. The men who took part in the film all live in Parc’s Families Wing, where they develop parenting skills, and learn about the impact of their crime on their families.

Clare Lloyd, head of PET’s Welsh Project, says: “We know families can be an incredibly powerful force in someone making positive change that enable them to stay out of prison. At PET, we receive so many application letters that say a main motivation is to be able to make family members proud, and support  them after release.

“The purpose of the animation is to demonstrate the positive impact further and higher education can have on families, directly or indirectly. It shows that education can be contagious; that it can act as a catalyst for change and that ambitions can be achieved both in prison and after release.”

Corin Morgan-Armstrong, Head of Family Interventions at HMP Parc, plans to use the film at teacher awareness sessions and parent/teacher afternoons, to show the impact that imprisonment has on a children. 

He says: “It is an excellent short film which really captures the importance education plays in maintaining positive family contact whilst in prison.”

Jack, 10, whose father is completing a degree inside, carries the film’s final message:

“I would say it’s never too late or too early to educate yourself. There’s lots of different opportunities, I think education is really important no matter how old you are – if you’re old, young if you’re kind of in the middle you should never stop educating yourself and you should believe in yourself and carry on and persist.”

PET has been working intensively in the Welsh prisons for the last three years, and has seen applications for courses increase by 53%. The animation was produced with the help of the Strengthening Families Team and Heads Up animation. To receive a copy for your training or event, please email Clare Lloyd. 

All names of prisoners and their children have been changed.