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Giving prisoners the chance to learn new skills

Man carrying books

We at Open Study College announced our partnership with the Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET), a charity dedicated to providing a variety of educational courses to prisons in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, last week.

Since July 2021, we have provided PET with a range of courses including AAT Accounting L2; CACHE L2 Certificate in Health and Social Care; CACHE Level 3 Award in Supporting Individuals with Learning Difficulties; CACHE L2 Prevention and Control of Infection; and CACHE L3 Award in Health and Social Care.

Nearly half (42%) of adult prisoners have been permanently excluded from school, and even more people in prison (47%) have no qualifications. PET helps around 1,500 people in prison each year, giving them the opportunity to learn new skills and gain recognised qualifications which, according to the charity, increases the chance of securing employment and reducing the possibility of them returning to prison by over a fifth. PET also advocates for system-wide improvements to make the most of education in prisons.

Commenting on the partnership our CEO, Samantha Rutter, said: “We feel a real synergy with the Prisoners’ Education Trust as, like us, they believe that education has the power to change lives, and that everyone should have the chance to study even those in prison or with a criminal record. Our ethos encompasses giving second chances and making education accessible to all, so this collaboration very much aligns with our values. Due to the early success of our partnership we are currently working on adding even more courses to the programme.”

Of the learners who have completed their distance courses via Open Study College and PET, one has gone on to study another course and another has already applied for another.

‘Dimitrios’ completed CACHE Level 2 Prevention and Control of Infection in November 2021 and has now applied for NEBOSH Level 3 National Certificate in Environmental Management.

He commented: “I’ve now completed and passed the Prevention and Control of Infection course. Thank you for funding it. This has helped me keep myself busy [and] helped me with Covid-19 and other infections that surround prison/communities. This will go towards my environmental employment when I’m released. I have really enjoyed the course and the Prisoners’ Education Trust are very good with helping support prisoners. Education and distance learning is very important for prisoners. We learn better skills at a higher level than what you get from education in prisons.”

‘Jenny’ completed CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Health and Social Care in October 2021 then applied for the Open University’s Introducing the Social Sciences in December 2021.

She said: “Studying this course will enable me to have a stepping stone to study further in this field. With my current role within the prison as a safer custody orderly this course will benefit myself with a greater understanding about health and social care and will help me prepare to go on to further study, being able to have new and relevant qualifications for future employment and using my sentence productively. I want to use my time wisely, re-educate myself and gain a new qualification so upon my release future employers will see my drive to succeed. This will benefit my mental health and wellbeing and as a peer, educate others in the future.”

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