NOMS Rehabilitative Cultures Project

Since April 2014, PET has been running a pilot project training eight prisons to give learners a greater say in the education and rehabilitation on offer in their prisons. The project draws on guidelines published in the 'Involve, Improve, Inspire' toolkit to give prison staff ideas of how to develop learner voice to build a rehabilitative culture by improving relationships between staff and prisoners.

The project is funded through the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Grants Funding Programme during the 2014-2015 financial year.

We are working with a variety of prisons through this project including men's, women's, young people's and different security categories.

When the project finishes at the end of March 2015, each prison will have been visited three times by PET researchers and Learner Voice expert, Jose Aguiar (co-author of the ‘Involve, Improve, Inspire’ toolkit).

Summary of the project so far
The first visit involved PET researchers talking to prisoners and staff about their perception of the overall learning and rehabilitative culture of the prison. Survey responses were collected to give us an overall picture before the project started. (The same survey will also be given out at the end of the project to see if any progress has been made). The day after data collection, a selection of staff from different prison departments took part in a training session, facilitated by Jose Aguiar, on the benefits of learner voice and how this supports the development of an effective learning and rehabilitative culture. This first session also allowed PET to find out what Learner Voice and other service user involvement work the prison was already delivering so in some cases this work could be expanded upon. The overall aim was to inspire more prisoners to take up education and in particular those prisoners who are hard to reach (not engaged in learning or education).

In between the first and the second sessions, participants from the first session met to develop ideas further. Staff also invited at least two prisoners from each prison to the second training session to ensure learners’ voices were represented in discussions about future plans to create a rehabilitative culture that involves everyone. In some of the prisons there were as many as eight prisoners involved in some of the sessions, sharing their ideas and experiences in order to shape the project. Each prison has now had two sessions and below is a summary of what each prison is planning to do:

Final part of the project
The project is now moving into delivery of the third and final session, which gives each prison the chance to showcase what they have learned by hosting an event which embraces the key themes from the training. An evaluation report written by Dr. Katherine Auty (Cambridge Prisons Research Centre) will be published after the project finishes (March/April 2015) highlighting good practice and learning throughout the year.

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