Jon Collins, Chief Executive | 22 August 2023
In delivering this strategy, we are wholly committed to continuing to support people in prison to access distance learning courses and to providing related information, advice and guidance (IAG).
During 2022, we provided funding for 1,507 distance learning courses to people in prison, giving access to educational opportunities that would otherwise have been unavailable. As always, the courses we funded cover a wide range of subjects, with our top ten courses including health and safety, bookkeeping and nutrition for physical activity.
Last year, we also provided IAG on 3,608 occasions, including responding to 1,368 calls on our Advice Line.
The Advice Line, which was launched in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, provides direct access for people in prison to our expert staff. It has enabled us to build closer relationships with our learners. Speaking to them directly and regularly has helped us to better understand the challenges that they face and what we can do to address them.
Extending our support
This has fed into our work on one of our key strategic priorities: extending the support that we provide to our learners.
We are looking to see how we can best enable more learners to complete their course. In the latter half of 2022 we began to hold focus groups with people who had completed their PET-funded course to better understand their experiences.
This initial work informed a broader project, now funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, which kicked off earlier this year. More on that in due course!
Real progress on digital technology
Another key area of our strategy is enhancing our use of digital technology for learners.
2022 saw real progress, with our four free short courses made available digitally via Coracle Inside’s laptops and the Virtual Campus, the prison intranet. In addition, Coracle Inside’s laptops now also host our application form, as well as one of our distance learning courses.
These are major steps forward – despite the ongoing challenges presented by the limited availability of digital technology within prisons – and are enabling us to make further progress this year.
Centring lived experience of prison education
Another key part of our strategy is involving people with lived experience of prison education in shaping our work.
This is rooted in the development of the strategy itself, with alumni and people in prison involved in identifying priority issues for PET to address. This has developed into a new Strategy Focus Group – made up of staff and alumni – that supports and guides the strategy’s implementation.
This complements the brilliant support of our Alumni Advisory Group, who contribute to the ongoing development of PET’s work and helped to co-create our new National Lottery Community Fund project to extend our support and reach.
The above is just a flavour of the work that we did at PET during 2022 but hopefully it shows the range of activities that we are carrying out. For more detail, please do dig into the annual report.
There is, however, always more that we could do and if you would be interested in working with us on any of the areas covered by our strategy, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
And if you like what we do and would like us to do more of it, please consider donating to PET to support the incredible learners we work with.
© Prisoners' Education Trust 2023