Michael Gove announces a major review of Prison Education


Dame Sally Coates is to carry out a review into how the quality of prison teaching can be improved, in the first step towards Michael Gove's 'earned release' scheme.


Sally Coates, director of a group of 23 schools, is the person tasked with carrying out this review. It will look at how both the quality and methods of education in prisons can be improved, as well as how technology and direct employer engagement can be further incorporated into offender learning. Dame Coates recently carried out a review of teaching standards for the Department of Education and is widely credited for her recommendations dramaticallly improving the performance of Burlington Danes Academy, located very near HMP Wormwood Scrubs in London. The Coates review is expected to be concluded by Spring 2016.

It comes as no surprise that many people currently incarcerated in the UK have been previously expelled or permanently excluded from education. This means that many of them have not got anywhere near the basic level of education expected in the country in this day and age, putting them on the back foot the moment they get released. 

Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, has previously made it clear that tackling the poor quality of education for inmates in the UK is one of his top priorities in the coming years, especially having all prisoners provided with essential skills such as Maths and English. In July, Mr Gove raised the possibility of an early release for those who gained skills and qualifications, alongside showing an improvement in attitude and behaviour. Highlighting the fact that inmates with long sentences may need extra motivation to further their education behind bars, Mr Gove sees the prospect of an earlier release as a key incentive for getting people focused and on board. 

An 'earned release' system would be a major change from the current policy, which sees most inmates automatically released on licence half way through their sentence. There are claims that people will take advantage of this, attending classes and workshops purely to manufacture an early release. Despite this, surely an earned release represents a step up from a system that currently releases inmates at the same time, regardless of the level of rehabilitation they have involved themselves in?


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