Sally Alexander, Executive Director Offender Learning, Milton Keynes College

The world of offender learning has been through many changes over the last few years, and there are more changes afoot…

Several years ago, our contracts sat with the Prison Service and individual prison governors. We then transferred from Prison Service contracts to DfE contracts, the reason being the DfE were the educational experts and would be better placed to drive the learning agenda, through OLASS 1 to OLASS 4. We are now, as of the 1st October, in the position of contract management reverting back to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), the theory being the each governor should have control and accountability for delivery in their prisons. Life feels very cyclical!

During this time we have moved from individual providers for each prison, to four national providers, individual and small clusters of prisons to larger units of procurement across England, and the seemingly gentle ALI inspections to the full-bodied Ofsted treatment.

These on-going developments have brought benefits and challenges. Larger areas of delivery bring greater economies of scale, as providers can share best practice across their teams, invest more into the provision, develop real expertise and also absorb the significant financial challenges of classroom interruptions and cancellations.

However, prison governors and directors felt they did not have control of the learning that was happening in their prisons and that they could not hold providers accountable for provision that was delivered. Though I have to say I have had many a governor/director hold me accountable over the years, I feel it was more the inflexibility of the funding methodology that was challenge, and this was out of all of our control.

When David Cameron was elected in May 2015, Michael Gove was quickly appointed as the Justice Minister, and his initial speech demonstrated a real ideological desire to push forward on governor accountability and ownership, stating:

At the moment, Governors don’t determine who provides education in their prisons, they have little control over quality and few effective measures which allow them to hold education providers to account. If we gave Governors more control over educational provision they could be much more imaginative, and demanding, in what they expect of both teachers and prisoners - Governors could be held more accountable for outcomes and the best could be rewarded for their success.’

Michael Gove appointed Dame Sally Coates, who has a strong history of working with Academy schools, to lead a review of prison education, and her 31 recommendations were published in May this year. Key themes included that prison governors should have autonomy in the provision of education, and be held to account for the educational progress of all prisoners, the need to attract new staffing talent into prisons, a curriculum designed to meet individual learner need and not driven by the funding methodology, improved ICT and programmes leading to sustained employment on release.

The 31 recommendations were no great surprise to those of us working in the offender learning arena and in theory have been welcomed. The challenge however with the recommendations, which we all silently quizzed each other on as they were announced to a packed audience in Westminster back in May, was how would this actually happen within the challenging timeframe? The recommendations are in some places straight forward and in others very ideological but challenging, and with no guide for implementation, would governors really be in a position to exercise ‘full freedoms over the choice of education providers’ by August 2017?

And as we were all grappling with what the new world would look like, we had Brexit!

Michael Gove ‘left’ and Liz Truss arrived and, quickly identifying that there was no planning framework, has taken her time to review all prison reform recommendations. And, as announced at the Conservative Conference, we will have a new White Paper to be published in the near future.

So, as a practitioner in the field for 25 years, I am intrigued to see how we move forward from here. Will the Reform Prisons continue to move ahead and lead the way with their total autonomy a la Academy School model? Will the Dame Sally Coates recommendations be adopted, as confirmed by Michael Gove back in May, or will they be adopted in part, or parked for the time being? I welcomed the recommendations but strongly wish for a clearer and practical plan for implementation, a plan rooted in the current reality of prison staff shortages and security challenges.

What we do know is that change is on the horizon, and our world of offender learning will certainly be changing, so I hope, with these movements in politics and politicians, Liz Truss remembers what education in prison is really all about - supporting our learners to transform their lives and reduce their reoffending on release.

Sally Alexander, Executive Director Offender Learning, Milton Keynes College

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Sharon Walpole added a new event 2 days ago

CareermapLive: An Introduction to WorldSkills UK...

During this live webinar, you'll have the opportunity to learn about our skills competition development programme which provides colleges,...

  • Wednesday, 28 April 2021 03:30 PM
  • Online Event, UK

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page