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Why the education of illiterate & innumerate prisoners


Reoffending is at an all time high

The current prisons population is c85, 000 with over 45% reoffending within a year of release costing the UK economy between £9 -13 Billion PA.

(Bobby Cummines, an ex-offender and Chief Executive of UNLOCK, the National Association of Ex-Offenders, “Educational training is probably the most important thing you have in prisons today. It is one of the things that will stop people re-offending”)

The Size of the challenge is growing day by day

In a CIVITAS report in 20010 stated that 48% of prisoner have literacy standards at or below level 1 with 65% have numeracy standards at or below level 1.

Today in the 5 prison that I am working with in, numeracy levels have further declines with over 50% of prisoner are innumerate , with 90% being Levl or below for maths

The most needy prisoners are missing out- Big Time

Due to the emphasis Governments have given to PBR, which means in line with the dictate from the Skills Funding Agency,that all education providers are focused on getting aprenterships & qualification for prisoners. Thus excluding those at the bottom of the pack, for whom gaining a qualification is beyond their comprehension; couple with the fact that for many prisoners, even the word ‘Education’ is a big turn off.

What important people say about Prison Education

Last year, the inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick, when question by a select committee stated that the employers that he talks to say that “One of the most important factors if they are to employ ex prisoners is that they should understand basis literacy and maths”.

In 2013 Ofsted’s Matthew Coffey, said that “65 per cent of education and training in prisons is not good enough”. These figures are totally unacceptable in a modern society, claiming there would be a national outcry if they were found in state schools.

Mentoring is the key to breaking illiteracy & innumeracy in prisons

A very substantial percentage of prisoners reject any involvement in education, hence the importance of prisoner peer mentoring. The greatest resource of the prison service is their bored educated prisoners. With the 30% cuts in prison budgets this resource is a vital part of improving prison education. For the thousands of prisoners for whom the classroom is a no go area, the simple fact is that they will talk to their mates and ask for help.. In HMP Usk within two months of starting my One to One maths project, over 10% of the prison population had joined our programme many have now enrolled into formal education.

The challenge for all MP’s & the Government is not about prisoners further education. It’s about giving education TO ALL PRISONERS

A quote from one of my typical prisoner mentees last week.

“I have started education because of One to One maths, my mentor is teaching me and now I feel confident to go into a maths class. I have never attended school and now in my 40’s”

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