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Educational, vocational and ‘thinking skills’ provision in HM Prisons: Results from a national survey
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Dr Jill Clark
Clark J, Hall I, Moseley D
Prison(er) Education: Stories of Change and Transformation
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This chapter presents results from the first phase of a research study funded by the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA), which explores the delivery of interventions which aim to improve the thinking, and communication skills, of prisoners. We surveyed all 139 penal institutions in England and Wales, as it was vital for the research team to be aware of exactly what is available to prisoners, in the form of training, education, rehabilitation and therapeutic opportunities. The survey also intended to explore how prison staff construe the idea of ‘thinking skills’. Questionnaire data is drawn on to explore the range and diversity of educational courses and provision for inmates in 83 institutions. Findings from the questionnaire survey are placed in the policy context of prisoners as learners and educational provision in England and Wales, with a particular reference to thinking skills. Most completed questionnaires were from Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMPs) which hold male inmates only. The survey asked respondents to list, and rate the emphasis on thinking skills of each course or activity offered in their institution. A huge range of provision is evident across the institutions, and a total of 511 courses/activities were identified by respondents. Almost one third of all courses mentioned are thought to have the development of thinking as the primary aim. Not surprisingly, Psychological courses are seen as being primarily about thinking, and vocational courses get much lower ratings.
Forum on Prisoner Education
The Forum on Prisoner Education has published a second edition of Prison(er) Education. This new collection of essays considers the past, present, future and efficacy of prisoner education. Contributions from politicians, campaigners, tutors, academics and prisoners themselves examine a range of issues including the politics of prisoner education, distance learning, how basic skills help the ex-prisoner after release, discrimination against ex-prisoners by universities, prison teacher training, and whether prisons offer the education that prisoners want. This chapter reports findings of a national survey of provision (training, education, rehabilitation and therapeutic) for inmates in UK prisons. Findings from the survey are placed in the policy context of prisoners as learners and educational provision in England and Wales, with a particular reference to thinking skills.
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