Learners' Stories

Over the past 25 years Prisoners' Education Trust (PET) has helped thousands of people in prison.

We regularly receive letters from our learners and alumni about their achievements both in prison and back in their communities. People like Frank, who had been in and out of prison for more than 30 years before he found his ‘way out’ of crime through education. He is now in his final year at university. Search for their stories, experiences and views below. Some of their letters highlight the barriers that prevent people from learning in prison and through PET's work championing prison education we seek to address their concerns. 


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    Noel Smith: "There is no rehabilitation without education"

    All | Distance learning

    Prisoners' Education Trust alumnus and journalist Noel Smith writes: "I spent over 3 decades bouncing around the British prison system before I found my rehabilitation. I have now been out of prison for over 4 years (a personal record for me) and I put it down to education."

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    Woman gains a new identity through learning

    Women | Education

    An ex-prisoner writes about her journey through the criminal justice system and the importance of education in creating a new identity for herself. Although she experienced self-doubt and negative thinking, she has also achieved two degrees and is now working for charities.

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    Phillip: succeeding with learning difficulties

    All | Education

    Phillip writes about developing a love of learning during his sentence despite having previously struggled to learn at school, coping with learning difficulties and experiencing bullying and other challenges in prison.

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    Prisoner's confidence grows on practical course

    All | Employability

    One of Prisoners' Education Trust's current learners, Anthony, writes about how a course in car repairs has helped him develop new skills and confidence. He says: "I found myself disappointed when Friday came and spent the weekend looking forward to Monday when I could get back and learn more."

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    Anthony: "Qualifications got me out of trouble"

    Young people | Distance learning

    Anthony, 28, from Leeds, is currently working in his dream job and clean, having stayed out of prison for four years and completed his degree at Nottingham Trent University. He says: "I decided to use my time and with support from the education department and Prisoners' Education Trust I made the best of a bad situation.”

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    Johnnie's counselling course gives him the tools to help others

    All | Distance learning

    Serving prisoner, Johnnie, says studying a course in Drug, Solvent and Alcohol Abuse Counselling with support from Prisoners' Education Trust has changed his life. After passing with distinction Johnnie’s letter describes how the distance learning course has helped him and others.

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    Moses discovers books and a world of learning

    Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) | Education

    A letter from one of Prisoners' Education Trust's current learners, Moses, highlights the challenges and opportunities for a young black man discovering education in prison. He writes: "Most teachers do a job in prisons that is undervalued. Some prisoners don’t get access to education, but of those that do, many learn."

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    Kristin: back with her family and off drugs

    Women | Family learning

    Kristin hit rock bottom when she found herself in prison, separated from her children after battling with class A drugs for 20 years. Now she says that education was her ‘saving grace’ as she is back with her family and holding down a steady job. She says: “Education in prison gave me a second chance.”

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    Mark: "Education over medication"

    All | Mental Health

    Mark, a serving prisoner, describes how learning has improved his mental heath. He writes: "I believe education actively promotes self-inquiry, growth, worth and a sense of direction. Through my experiences with education, I adopted a motto of ‘education over medication’."

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    Gemma: The difficulties of a relationship with a prisoner

    All | Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

    Gemma discusses the challenges and setbacks she and her partner have experienced in attempting to sustain their relationship through his imprisonment.