Brain Cells: Listening to Prisoner Learners (Second Edition)

Published: Nov 2012

Nina Champion - Prisoners Education Trust

This report is based on the views of prisoner learners responding to a survey prepared by Prisoners Education Trust and distributed in the November 2011 edition of the prison newspaper Inside Time.

This report was being published at a time of significant change in prison education. OLASS (Offender Learning and Skills Service), the government funded service providing prisoners’ education, was entering its fourth phase. The Review of Offender Learning Making Prisons Work: Skills for Rehabilitation and its recommendations were published on 18 May 2011. The Review, along with Skills for Sustainable Growth and Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing for Offenders, influenced OLASS Phase 4 in a number of ways. This included an emphasis on employability; making prisons places of ‘hard work and industry’; meeting women prisoners specific needs; prisons working in clusters; increased payment by results models; the introduction of increased fees for FE and HE courses; student loans for prisoners and the increased use of technology such as the Virtual Campus.

This report therefore is a timely reminder of the importance of listening to prisoners’ voices about their learning needs, aspirations and ideas to improve learning opportunities in prison, in order to improve rehabilitation and reduce reoffending.