13 July 2022
Commenting on today’s annual report from the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Francesca Cooney, Head of Policy at Prisoners’ Education Trust, said:
“Chief Inspector Charlie Taylor’s annual report paints a grim picture of prisons struggling to manage and failing to provide much needed education and activities.
“During the pandemic, prison education – which was already poor in delivery and outcomes – got worse, with little access to activities. Following the easing of restrictions, inspectors found that one in three prisons was not working quickly enough to reintroduce education and work. Ofsted have not found any prison education, skills and work provision to be good or outstanding.
“Many of the findings are stark. Inspectors found the education block at HMP Wandsworth closed to prisoners from March 2020 to September 2021. In HMP Durham, when classes and workshops reopened, they remained near empty. And at HMP Erlestoke, there were only five prisoners in spacious workshops and four in the whole of the education building.
“The report notes the failure to offer young men skills and education, saying “they were learning to survive in prison rather [than] being taught how to succeed when they were released”.
“People in prison are being poorly served by an education provision that is also surviving rather than succeeding. Funding is urgently needed to recruit and train more teachers, expand delivery and improve outcomes for learners.
“Without this funding, prisoners will not develop the skills and knowledge they need to reach their full potential and become assets to their communities when released.”
At Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) we believe that everyone in prison, wherever they are and whatever their background, should have access to education.
We offer distance learning courses, advice and guidance and help around 1,500 learners each year to study, giving them the skills and qualifications to build brighter futures.
We offer over 120 different courses including GCSEs and A-levels, Open University Access modules and a wide range of professional courses.
We use our research and expertise to improve prison education and to show prisons, policymakers and the public the impact it can have — for prisoners, their families, and society.
© Prisoners' Education Trust 2023