Written evidence submitted by Mr Milan Grubnic (Tutor - HMPPS Springhill & Grendon at Milton Keynes College); Ms Ruth Carver (Maths Tutor - HMPPS Springhill at Milton Keynes College); Ms Tracey Bishop (Customer Services Tutor - HMPPS Springhill & Grendon at Milton Keynes College); Mr Adrian Bryant (Carpentry Tutor - HMPPS Springhill at Milton Keynes College); Mr Shakti Karavadra (ICT Qualification Lecturer - HMPPS Springhill at Milton Keynes College)



This report, drafted by the ‘Lead individual’, has had input from and been endorsed by the four tutors listed as ‘Additional individuals’ in the submission portal. Additionally, there are a number of other tutors, all of whom are currently based at HMPPS Springhill & Grendon, who are in support of the great majority of its contents and some have also contributed to it. Some detail in the report inevitably relates to the ‘Lead individual’, and it has been drafted in the first-person form, but the underlying principles are supported by the group.

This group has wide-ranging experience of delivering vocational and English/maths/IT courses in prison establishments for adult males and has taught in prisons covering all four categories, from ‘A Cat’ through to ‘D Cat’, some over a substantial period of years.

The tutors come from a variety of work and social backgrounds and bring a wealth of vocational and life experience to their teaching. Academically, they have a wide range of qualifications including college and university degrees and vocational / professional qualifications.

Submissions have only been made for those areas that we are well-placed to comment on. We must also stress that our contribution is a personal one; we are not acting on behalf of our employer, Milton Keynes College, or our peers and we do not purport to represent their views.

We have addressed the Committee’s areas for submissions in the order published:


What is the purpose of education in prisons?

I consider that the purpose of education is far wider than any academic qualifications gained. Additionally, I consider its purposes are to:

In short, education provides a wonderful opportunity and environment in which to show them care, respect, compassion and support whilst also encouraging their development. It’s not unusual for tutors to have much higher expectations of learners than they have of themselves...


What data exist to demonstrate the effectiveness of education and training in prisons and on prisoner attainment, and what international comparisons are available?

I am unable to provide data other than pass rates for courses, which the MOJ has access to. At HMPPS Springhill, the key measures we use are statistics measuring course completions, course pass rates and student retention; all of which are very high. What I can say anecdotally is that I have seen students achieve much more than they thought they could and in the process their self-belief, self-respect and optimism for the future have all increased.

Each tutor will have their own stories to recount; I have had students with minimal academic qualifications study my Bookkeeping & Accounting courses and have discovered that they have a natural aptitude for it; their self-confidence and self-worth have increased with the result that some have left with the intention of studying it at a higher level at college or university.

If tutors were permitted to maintain contact with prisoners after their release, we would have a much better idea of our effectiveness.


How well are additional learning needs met by the prison education and youth custody systems, including SEND and language and communication needs?

Does education in prisons deliver the skills needed by employers, and what more can be done to better align these?

My concern at the question posed is that it is narrowly focussed on the employment-related benefits that education has to offer. I believe that not all education courses must directly relate to available job roles and that an additional question is posed: Does education help produce better, more rounded, more caring and confident human beings who have a greater appreciation of the value of themselves, their neighbours and society in general and what can be done to achieve this’?

That said, and addressing the question as framed:


How can successful participation in education be incentivised in prisons?


How might apprenticeships work for those in custody?


Are current resources for prison learning meeting need?


What should happen when prison education is assessed as not meeting standards?

I am unsure what I can contribute here other than to pose the question ‘Are prison governors and their senior management team sufficiently challenged and encouraged to take risks and are they allowed to fail if an initiative proves unsuccessful?’  My experience is that the security concerns have been given disproportionate weight in ruling out what otherwise could be constructive initiatives.

Greater flexibility and creativity are required of the prison service; I am not convinced that prison management are sufficiently challenged on what can be done to improve matters. Too often, the default is that something cannot be changed rather than requiring the prison to think creatively about how an outcome could be achieved i.e. a simple “no” is, in my view, a lazy and unacceptable response.


How does the variability in the prison estate and infrastructure impact on learning?


How does provision compare in public sector and privately run prisons?

I am unable to contribute to this point.


How effective and flexible is prison education and training in dealing with different lengths of sentences and the movement of prisoners across the estate?


Supplementary considerations

In addition to the requested areas for submission, I feel that it’s important to highlight other factors that have a direct impact on prisoners’ educational development:



I apologise for exceeding the requested maximum 3,000-word count but I hope the Committee recognises the importance of the aforementioned points, which are borne from direct experience and have been presented openly and accurately. Both myself and many of my colleagues are keen to see change and we offer our support in improving the delivery of education in the prison sector.  We are in the business of transforming prisoners lives and believe that everything we do should be focussed on, and measured against, this objective.

January 2021

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