BIG ISSUE NATIONAL VENDOR WEEK
LEARN MORE
News

'Unacceptable' that prisoners can’t get an education, says charity

The Prisoners’ Education Trust issued the warning following the HM chief inspector of prisoners Peter Clarke’s report into the annual report on the state of English and Welsh prisons

The chief executive of a charity that has helped tens of thousands of inmates obtain an education has slammed the difficulty of gaining skills in prison as “unacceptable”.

Responding to an annual report on the state of English and Welsh prisons, Rod Clark of the Prisoners’ Education Trust said that in too many cases, prisons are “extraordinarily difficult places in which to learn and gain skills”.

HM chief inspector of prisoners Peter Clarke found in his report that purposeful activity in prisons, such as education or training, wasn’t judged to be good or even reasonably good around two thirds of the time.

It was also found that staff shortages and levels of violence meant people behind bars were unable to attend education or training and were locked in their cells for “inordinate” lengths of time without access to purposeful activities.

Rod Clark said that unless the burning issues were addressed, there is a danger that prisoner progress will “continue to be impeded”.

PET has given 40,000 educational awards to prison learners since 1989 and says that education has the power to help people find work and break the cycle of crime.

Last week, during a competition run by the charity, prisoners demonstrated the crucial role education can play in curbing reoffending.

Some inmates talked about the power of education to transform their identities and have a positive impact on their mental health, with one saying access to education helped them stay alive.

In April, significant changes to education in prison were introduced, and the responsibility for managing education now sits with governors.

The charity also acknowledged some positive work highlighted in the annual report.

“Working in this difficult context, it is all the more important to recognise the good work highlighted in this report,” said Clark.

“For example, the use of peer mentoring, service user engagement, and examples of excellent leadership in education. We commend these initiatives, and the people who – in often deeply challenging environments – are giving men and women the tools to transform their lives.”

In his report, HM chief inspector Clarke also questioned the effectiveness of placing institutions in special measures – he cited inspections of HMP Lewes and HMP Bedford as proof.

He said: “On some occasions the response has been to place a struggling prison in ‘special measures’, but I do not have confidence in that as a reliable means of driving improvement. The inspection of HMP Lewes in January 2019 found a prison that had been in special measures for two years, and yet had declined in no less than three of our four healthy prison tests and failed to improve in the vital test of safety.

“Similarly, the special measures at HMP Bedford left me with little confidence that the prison could improve, and the use of the Urgent Notification process was inevitable.”

National Vendor Week 2024

A celebration of people who are working their way out of poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Sarah Everard inquiry: Cops accused of violence against women must be suspended, government told
sarah everard vigil
Social justice

Sarah Everard inquiry: Cops accused of violence against women must be suspended, government told

Number of people sleeping rough in England more than double than when Tories came to power
rough sleeping
Homelessness

Number of people sleeping rough in England more than double than when Tories came to power

No-fault eviction notice periods must be increased to four months, government told
Protesters with coloured placards
Renters Reform Bill

No-fault eviction notice periods must be increased to four months, government told

Over 500 employers named for 'cheating workers' out of minimum wage – but it's worse than you think
Minimum wage

Over 500 employers named for 'cheating workers' out of minimum wage – but it's worse than you think

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Here's when UK households to start receiving last cost of living payments
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Here's when UK households to start receiving last cost of living payments

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know