Happy New Year! 2016 is done and dusted and 2017 has taken its place. We reveal our top New Year's resolutions for OLASS in 2017!
For the prison education sector, 2016 had some lovely moments. Employers like Virgin Trains and Pret teamed up with prisons to help offenders find employment on release, plans for secure schools for Young Offenders were made, and a large number of prisoners completed educational qualifications that they never thought were possible. However, we can also all agree that prisons in 2016 had their challenging, peculiar and, at times, downright frustrating moments.
2017 is a fresh start. Now is a time to look back on last year, recognise the mistakes, and make resolutions for the future.
There needs to be more of a focus on education in prisons. This should be a key resolution of 2017. The government’s move to create secure schools for Young Offenders shows that they also recognise the importance of education in rehabilitation. Yet more needs to be done to give prisoners access to educational schemes.
Currently just a small percentage of prisoners are involved in prison education. In 2014, just 23% of prisoners were found to be involved in educational schemes, and whilst this figure has improved, the percentage of prisoners involved in education needs to be dramatically increased to make a real difference. A basic skills education can reduce the chances of reoffending by 12%. If this were to be applied across the prison population it could make a huge difference to the levels of prison violence, overcrowding and crime rates in the UK.
More needs to be done to combat staff shortages, teaching shortages, and prisoner apathy to ensure that educational schemes are carried out consistently and effectively in prisons across the UK. Poor behaviour, lockdowns and staff shortages mean that educational interventions are often cancelled, causing disruption and frustration for those people that really want to learn. This also limits the effectiveness and impact of educational interventions.
Our ideal resolution would be to have all prisoners involved in educational schemes throughout 2017 and a consistent, high quality, effective group of teaching staff to educate and rehabilitate. If we can achieve this, then perhaps 2017 can be the best year yet.