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Experts give evidence on prison education

28 May 2021

The Education Committee holds a session as part of its inquiry into prison education, examining the role of the prison regime in facilitating learning and the needs of prisoners serving longer sentences.

The Committee will hear from the Prison Governors Association, prison reform charities and the Open University, as it continues its work looking at the current arrangements for learning in prisons and whether they are delivering the right skills for prisoners to progress after leaving custody.

Likely areas of questioning

The session follows on from last week’s meeting focusing on training and apprenticeships and is likely to explore how the current prison regime supports prison learners. This may include how prisoners can be encouraged to engage in education and the suitability of the curriculum to meet the diverse needs of prisoners, from teaching fundamental skills to engagement with higher level and distance learning.

There could also be questions on the use of digital technology in prisons, monitoring standards and support for those with additional learning needs.

The Committee also previously heard from Dame Sally Coates, who in 2016 led an independent review into prison education.

Aims of the inquiry

The inquiry links into the Committee’s overall aims and work examining the issues faced by left behind groups. Almost a quarter of those in prison have spent time in care, while nearly one-third have declared learning difficulties and 42% have been excluded from school.

A study in 2018 found that prisoners who had taken part in education were 7.5% less likely to reoffend one year on from release compared with those who had not participated in learning.


Tuesday 8 June 2021 at 10am:

  • Michala Robertson, Open University
  • Steve Johnson, Prison Governors Association
  • Francesca Cooney, Prisoner Learning Alliance
  • Peter Dawson, Prison Reform Trust

Further information

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