From education to employment

Podcast with Ofsted’s Paul Joyce

Paul Joyce, Deputy Director of Further Education and Skills at Ofsted

@Ofstednews – Ofsted Talks hosts, Chris Jones and Anna Trethewey talk to Ofsted’s Deputy Director Paul Joyce, Head of Policy at the Prisoners Education Trust, Francesca Cooney and Sheena Maberly, a policy lead dealing with prison education in Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service about the challenges facing prison education and the need for rapid improvements. 

Ofsted talks prison education transcript

  • AT: Anna Trethewey
  • CJ: Chris Jones
  • PJ: Paul Joyce
  • FC: Francesca Cooney
  • SM: Sheena Maberly

AT: Hello and welcome to Ofsted Talks. Today we’re going to be talking about prison education. Now Chris you and I’ve had a number of meetings over the last few weeks on this topic, and really concerning isn’t it

CJ: Hi Anna. Yeah, we’ve spoken to a few people about this we’ve spoken to our very own Deputy Director of Further Education and Skills, Paul Joyce. We’ve have spoken to Francesca Cooney, who is Head of Policy at the Prisoners Education Trust, and we’ve spoken to Sheena Maberly, who is a policy lead dealing with prison education in Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service

AT: It’s been a really fascinating few discussions. But what we’ve heard hasn’t been great has it, let’s be honest.

CJ: No and I’ve said, we’ve been concerned about prison education for a number of years, long before the pandemic. Prison Education simply gets the worst inspection results of any area of education we inspect. It’s something we’ve been talking about for a while.

CT: And COVID just seems to have come and landed on that and made things much worse by the looks of it.

CJ: Yeah, exactly. We introduced the education inspection framework into prisons in February 2020, so just before the pandemic and we’ve done some inspection since, and the findings are really concerning.

AT: Now, before we get into the meat of those interviews I thought it’d be useful to listen to the bit Paul Joyce our Deputy Director of Further Education and Skills and he’ll be talking through a little bit of what we’ve what we do want to prison inspection, and then our place in the system on what we’ve found.

AT: Obviously we play our part in inspecting them. How do we go about that just for the listeners out there, what exactly do we do?

PJ: Well, really, we, we look at prison education in much the same way as we do in the rest of the work we do with Ofsted. So, we will be using an inspection framework very similar to that we use in in schools and colleges to look at how well prison education is delivered. The quality of the curriculum, the quality of the teaching the implementation and impact that education has on prisoners life so it’s much the same as the inspection activity we carry out elsewhere.

AT: That’s really helpful. What, what we tending to find at the moment when we’re going out and inspecting

PJ: Well they’re lies the start at a problem, really. It’s not a pretty picture. In terms of what we are finding. And sadly, and this is, this has been the case for a long period of time. And clearly, COVID and the current circumstances, have, have not helped, but by and large, it’s in a pretty bleak picture. We find that education isn’t sufficiently prioritised in the prison regime, and often not doing what it should be doing for the prisoners that are in custody.

AT: So just a quick summary. He went on to talk about some of the key issues so there’s really poor management of the quality and education skills, work and they’re slow progress with improving the provision since previous inspections, only a third of prisons inspected since September 2019 deliver an appropriate curriculum to meet the needs of their prisoners. In many cases, the number of activity spaces available and education skills and work isn’t sufficient for the number of prisoners, or the spaces are poorly allocated and used and then lastly, prisoners with a range of additional learning needs, which we know is high in prisons, receive insufficient support and the range of education skills and work activities that vulnerable prisoners can access this is really poor.

CJ: I had such a fascinating discussion with Francesca Cooney from the Prisoners. Education Trust, and what came through really strongly for me was the mixed track record that prisons have. And just what a struggle, it can be to get people to engage with education, as they’re serving their sentences.

AT: I can imagine it must be quite happy so yeah it’s a really important first step getting people to engage but that might be quite hard. So let’s have a listen to Francesca.

CJ: Prisoners presumed they enter prison with a mixed track record in terms of education, is that fair to say.

FC: Absolutely yes, absolutely I mean many prisoners have not engaged in education very much at all. We know you know at least half of people coming into prison, I was as does not having what we would consider to be functional literacy. We don’t have up to date figures around this but we think maybe four out of 10 have been excluded or suspended from, from school, and many, many people in prison have really negative prior experiences of schooling, and certainly of conventional schooling. And I would also want to point out, but at least a third of prisoners have additional learning needs, or have some kind of neurodiverse condition. And what that means is people learn differently people concentrate differently people need different kinds of support. So many people are coming into prison with additional needs, not having had their additional needs met in the community, and then struggling once they get into prison, as well as.

CJ: That chimes with what we’re thinking about how offset a big strand of our work is around reading and particularly early reading and making sure that absolutely every child that possibly can is taught to read kind of comprehensively and can read fluently as early in their school life as, as possible because we know that difficulties with reading means difficulties with accessing the rest of the curriculum, means that children can fall behind their peers and can lead to frustration can sometimes lead to being diagnosed with special educational needs, and, and that can spill over into behavioural difficulties as well lead to exclusions and ultimately as, as you’ve said good for some unfortunate children as they become adults could, could lead to imprisonment. Is that is that focused on reading something that you think would be beneficial.

FC: I think it would be beneficial, but what I would say is it would be fantastic if prison education could be taught in quite a different way. I mean it’s shocking that so many people come into prison, not being able to read and write, but it’s actually inspiring that a lot of people do learn to read and write once, once they are in prison. And some of the things that I think would help would be if class lengths were shorter, at the moment people can sometimes be put into classes that last two and a half or three hours. That’s not brilliant for people with poor concentration, I don’t think most people in the community would want to three hour class. We should look at embedding functional skills more in depth into different subjects, so that if you’re doing bricklaying you’re also learning numeracy you’re also learning literacy, people really respond to practical skills vocational skills, and they respond to functional skills more where they can see how they can use them on a day to day basis. I also think that prisons don’t make enough use of peer mentors. So what I’m talking about there is other prisoners, so there are schemes where prisoners teach other prisoners to read, and they aren’t really successful that’s in a one to one situation, and that one to one situation can really help people who are not comfortable in class, who do not want the embarrassment or being being sort of exposed around, around their poor educational history, and once to one work really, really supports people that have been shown to be really effective.

AT: So what you and Francesca just discussed them and the difficulties of reading and how important that is to allow learners access to education, I just think is so important. I really liked ideas of Francesca’s idea on peer to peer mentoring I know it’s quite hard to do and do well, but she talked about it, really, really helpfully.

CJ: Yeah, and embedding key functional skills as well just seems really, really important. Francesco and I discussed what courses that Prisoners Education Trust offers are what’s popular with prisoners, and how taking part in those courses can actually help reduce reoffending. It was really interesting. So let’s have a listen.

CJ: Prisoners Education Trust, as you said provides funding for courses for prisoners, what are some of the most popular in demand courses that you provide.

FC: Okay, well we supply over 120 different courses there is quite a wide variety, we always say that we provide courses in all, all different, lots of different subjects from bookkeeping to beekeeping. But our most popular courses, I find it really interesting our most popular courses are ones which will potentially lead to employment, and to a career. So courses in health, fitness, nutrition, things like becoming, becoming a gym instructor courses in sort of mental health and counselling and supporting people with substance abuse. A lot of people who’ve had those kind of difficulties want to use their experiences to help other people. Business accountancy, those are very popular courses as well, so generally I find it really interesting that people seem to have a very clear idea about what they want to do in the future, and they really want to do courses that will benefit, benefit them on release.

CJ: that’s really interesting. So that suggests does completing these courses could have an impact on whether prisoners reoffend or not. Is that something that you find?

FC: Absolutely there’s very clear evidence that successful education has a, has an impact on offending rates, and that’s something that the Ministry of Justice accepts and they know from their own research as well. But despite this, we find that education isn’t always prioritised in prisons. And I have to say that it’s not true that all officers or people working in prisons necessarily understand the impact that education can have to transform lives, so that message hasn’t really necessarily got across to everybody working on prison wings, and that means people may not be as supportive of facilitating access to education, as they could be. It’s not necessarily seen as a part of the prison’s mission to reduce reoffending, in a way that it should be.

CJ: what you’re describing and it’s a really, it’s a real missed opportunity. It’s it sounds like, from the impact of of the education that good education can have in prisons on in prisons on unemployment on reoffending rates on life, life on the outside world, for the system, and many prisons to not be grasping this opportunity feels like a real waste.

FC: It’s a massive waste and it’s a massive waste of potential. Some people get the skills and qualifications they need in prison and they take advantage of every opportunity offered. But I would say they are the exception, not the norm. And we’ve got some recent data that shows that only 4% of women leaving prison were in a job. Six weeks later, and only 10% of men leaving prison had found employment and six weeks later. So that shows us that people are not leaving prison with the skills and qualifications, and training and education they need to be able to find employment. And as you say it’s a massive missed opportunity.

AT: Unsurprisingly bad Francesca spoke so eloquently about the importance of prison education. Now let’s have a little think about some of the challenges.

CJ: Yeah, I spoke to Francesca about that as well. Let’s hear what she has to say. What kind of education should prisoners be experiencing kind of how much of it should they be getting, who should be deliver and get that kind of thing.

FC: Okay, well that sounds like about five questions in once so I’ll try and I’ll try and answer them. So I think one of the main challenges in delivering prison education is, is how prison. Prison staff prison officers and the prison regime, and how prison education providers work together. At the moment it can be quite fragmented and hard to coordinate prisons are incredibly complicated organisations to run, and there’s lots of challenges around. For instance, activity spaces, you know prisons are overcrowded. That means there isn’t been infrastructure to deal with the amount of people that are in them. So there’s not enough space in workshops or in classrooms, not they’re not activity spaces. So for instance Brixton, which is a prison in South London. It was built for 400 men and 800 men are living there. And if you can imagine that means double, double the quantity that they actually have capacity for. So, prisons struggled to find activity spaces for their for their populations, particularly busy prisons. And then on top of that, they don’t always allocate the spaces that we have effectively. It can be really challenging for prisoners to actually access education because most, the most prisoners. They need to be unlocked by an officer and escorted from their wing, down to the education department. If there’s not enough officers on duty, and in many prisons or shortages of officers. That means people can’t actually reach the education department in the first place, they’re locked in their cells. They’re not able to access it, education, and a lot of Ofsted reports, talk about the difficulties of just managing the practicalities of accessing education in the first place. So obviously they do talk about the quality of what’s delivered, but they do talk a lot about how difficult it is for people to get into, into education and the problems around attendance allocation and activity spaces.

CJ: That’s really interesting. So there are some you’ve highlighted some systemic issues I guess they’re over overpopulation in prisons there being an obvious one, but other prisons that do this well, or more well than others that we can perhaps learn from.

FC: Absolutely, and I think one of one of the things that we can see is where, where prison. Prison staff and prison education providers are working closely together where there’s more coordination, it can be more effective. And sometimes it really helps if the governor is actively and visibly supportive education prisons can be quite hierarchical places, I would say, and what that means is the governor can set the culture overtone of an establishment. If a governor makes it really clear that education should be more of a priority in the prison that can help with education, delivery, and we see a complete variety of how education is provided and how effective it is, in some of the smaller prisons in some of the open prisons, we see really effective education and we see we see these prisons working with their local further education college with local universities with different employers and other organisations in the community. And I think that’s really positive to see to see that kind of networking, and that work going on in the community.

CJ: It’s good to know that it can be it can be achieved.

AT: To me what came out of that is that it’s all about the attitude of the prison and how the prison works that really makes a difference in delivering education.

CJ: Yeah, that’s right and as fantastic has said prisons often large and really complicated places, and education is just one part of what they have to do, but it’s, it’s so vital to improving the life chances of those who end up in prison so it’s really important that it’s given the priority it deserves.

CJ: Now we’re going to come on and talk about COVID in more detail in a minute. But first of all we’re gonna have a bit of conversation about digital technology, which has obviously become more prominent during COVID, and has done in schools and colleges and other providers but increasingly in prisons as well. When I was talking to Francesca, she told me about how hard it is for prisoners to access technology, and even before the pandemic struck it was limiting prisoner education.

CJ: I imagine that one of the big challenges in delivering Prison Education is the fact that you don’t, presumably have any digital technology involved.

FC: Absolutely So prisoners are massively disadvantaged because they don’t have access to internet. They don’t have any technology in their cells, and the only way they can access computers is if they can get to the education department which, or the library which depends on officers being able to escort them across. So, you know, we, we are really concerned that prisoners are losing out on many opportunities that would help them to progress their education resettled successfully. And we believe that limited restricted access to the internet is essential to develop Prison Education provide opportunities for people in online courses, and we think it can be provided safely and securely in cells, it can be monitored it can be supervised. And prison learners deserve the chance to develop essential digital skills, many of people don’t have that coming into prison, and would serve the chance to access courses that will help them spend time productively while they’re in prison, and then increase their chances of studying or training or getting a job when they’re back in the community.

CJ: So what are the barriers to achieving that is that about the priority given to education in prisons and kind of having a can do attitude or are wider rules about access to technology that stand in the way.

FC: Well I think, I think, for a long time the barrier was concerned about, about risk and security. I mean, obviously there are risks, working in prisons. And I think during lockdown what what has been shown is that actually those widths can be can be managed, and certainly restricted intranet, can be can be provided safely and securely. But I think really now the challenge is, is funding and getting the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury to commit to enough resource to put into the pot into the infrastructure of changing prisons so that they can be cabled and have the installed technology that is needed. So it is about making the arguments that actually a small benefit society in the long run, it would be an economic thing to do in the long run, it would save money in terms of reducing reoffending, and it would save money in terms of supporting prisoners to maximise their potential, but it’s, it’s still, it’s still something that it’s difficult to to argue for, in some ways.

CJ: Yes, I can see I can see why and funding is always the big issue isn’t it.

AT: I guess this is a tricky one, isn’t it, it’s quite a bit of attention here about how we provide access to digital devices to allow for learning, but in a way that’s safe for prisoners and the public.

CJ: It is, and I had a really interesting chat with Sheena from Her Majesty’s Prison and probation service about this, she talked about a small scale project that was rolling out secure laptops to allow prisoners to learn in their cell.

CJ: Could I ask about access to digital devices as well as obviously outside of prisons as a big aspect of how education was dealt with through the pandemic but obviously there are limits to what you can do with digital devices in prisons, is that, as have have some prisons been able to use digital devices and in innovative ways.

SM: Yes, and I think that you know just to start slightly further back, there are good reasons why we don’t allow blanket, access to in cell technology, mainly around protecting the public, of course, is just not appropriate. But what we have been able to do is start and I would emphasise what start, trailing the delivery of some educational content through the provision of secure laptops. So that is very small scale. At the moment it is not widespread across the estate at all, but the learning from that would then inform both the roll out in that limited way, but also wider roll out in the future. And it’s something that in terms of our longer term strategy would be a high priority. So that prisoners have that opportunity to undertake learning and that could be learning of any kind.

AT: Okay Chris, so we talked through some really vital topics here, but a measure of prison education in the round, but we need to talk about COVID-19 Right, it’s the elephant in the room about our conversation of prison education so what do we know about it and what impact has it had.

CJ: Yeah, of course, this is the this is the big thing of the moment, and I had a really interesting conversation with Francesca about what education actually looked like in prisons during COVID-19 So let’s have a listen.

CJ: Tell us a bit about how the pandemic has affected, education and prisons.

FC: Okay, well the pandemic has affected every area of our lives in the community, but even more so I would say in prisons. So, in March last year prisons went into lockdown, and what that meant was that prisoners were kept in their cells for 23 and a half hours a day. Most prisoners were kept in their cells for that length of time, and we know that’s extremely cycle, psychologically damaging for that to happen over a long period of time, and prison teachers prison tutors were not able to go into prisons anymore because they were not seen as key workers. So there were no classes and actually for quite a while, there was no education at all. For a few months, because there were no systems set up to provide education for prisoner learners. So in the community, we saw that universities and colleges, make their courses online, and everything could be developed virtually and maybe in some ways, that wasn’t ideal for everybody, people could still progress, and, and carry on with thier education, but, but the prisoner learners the situation was completely different. And it’s also important to remember that there’s no digital technology and in prison the cells. So people didn’t have access to internet while they were while they were locked up during during lockdown. So at the end of last year prison prison education staff could go back into go back into presence, but they hadn’t been able to offer classes, up till the last few months where things have opened up so they can, they can offer some classes now, but they’re socially distance, were smaller numbers very restricted. There’s lots of rules around them. It’s not the same as it was prior prior to lockdown. So lots of the education that has been delivered over the last nine months, has really been paper based learning, in cell packs materials that have been produced by person education departments and handed out for prisoners to complete in their cells, and then hand back, or marking. There’s a bit of phone tutorial support going on now. And there was some other kind of forms of support but it’s been so different for prisoners compared to what people have been able to access in the community. And what that means for many prisoners is they haven’t had the opportunities to get the qualifications they need. They’ve had to stop their courses right in the middle of them. And they haven’t been able to make the progress that will help them when they come out and are released and try to resettle in the community.

AT: That was really interesting like so much of what Francesca said chimed in with the conversation I had with Paul about what we’ve been finding when we’ve gone in. There have been, obviously the delays in any form of education getting into prison is in that first lockdown and Paul really highlighted how the packs Francesca described are often not tailored to the needs of individual prisoners, meaning that, you know, sometimes, although there’s some stuff there. They’re of limited value.

CJ: That’s right and in my conversation with Sheena. She was able to talk about some of the learning that Her Majesty’s Prison and probation service have been able to take from the pandemic.

CJ: You mentioned some of the learnings that the prison service can take from the last year and a half; expand a bit on, on what you think those are.

SM: Yes, I think there’s two main things here. So one is the concept of blended learning, which if you were studying at a college in the community would probably be a phrase that you would be very familiar with, but it’s been difficult for us in prisons. So one of the things that we’re looking at is how we can maintain perhaps some of the learnings from blended learning so even although some prisoners will be able to access education, away from residential wings. The fact that some of it could still take place on wing in cell. Therefore, outside the corners, during which you would normally expect to access education so you just got that increased flexibility, that’s something that we’re looking at very closely, again, with our provider colleagues, it’s very much a partnership approach. I think the other thing is about prisoners who are perhaps more hard to reach, and there can be many reasons for that. But we know that some people, perhaps don’t want to engage in classroom based learning, perhaps we didn’t have positive experiences of that in prior educational experiences. It could be about their own personal safety. So, there are reasons why prisoners, perhaps would not necessarily choose to do that. So again, it’s something that we want to be able to continue, and that could be a place for continuing to provide packs, even as a first step, because prisoners who engage with packs may then decide that they do believe we’d be happy to engage later on. But even if we don’t, we’re still able to offer something. So it’s about that levels of participation, and it’s about reaching people. We want prison education to be inclusive, clearly from the perspective of protected characteristics. But also inquisitive, in the broader settings, so irrespective of who you are, what you’re the nature of your defences, how distant, your release date might be. You’ve got the opportunity to engage in something and then progress on from that, depending on what’s right for you.

CJ: But we know we know don’t we that education is most effective when whoever is on the receiving end prisoner child college student is able to talk to a teacher face to face is able to get that instant feedback is able to act on feedback and is able to have those interactions with, with a teacher. So I assume we’re not anticipating and beyond another pandemic we’re not anticipating a situation where prisoners are just not able to get out of their cells in order to access that kind of education

SM: No, absolutely not, again it’s very much back to blended learning, and providing it’s safe to do so, then we would want that participation, and that participation, face to face experience to resume the value of developmental feedback is immense and of course it isn’t restricted to education, it’s about careers guidance, it’s about accessing library services and speaking to a librarian, speaking to a careers advisor about what you might want to do in the future, perhaps with little or no work background at all, or in a position where you do have a work background but for various reasons, you can’t go back to that after release. So, the quality of conversations and the quality of the specific events for all professionals who work in the education space in the prison sector is absolutely invaluable, and I think it’s just worth highlighting but you know I represent the adult world so people are beyond the age of compulsory education. I think that’s particularly important in that case, because people don’t have to engage. So therefore, we want them to want to engage, but for some people, we will start from a position that’s farther back from others. So, once they get that quality interaction which we know goes on in prisons, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of witnessing that in so many occasions where people were reluctant to engage, but once they go and they have that quality experience, perhaps realising for the support they need for dyslexia or some other neuro-diverse condition is clear, it’s, it’s given positively and it’s given discreetly, but that’s just so important so yes absolutely, we want to be in a position where that resumes, but I think we’re to go back to an earlier conversation, it’s about building back better. Because actually we don’t just want to go back where we were even although there were some very very good aspects to that, we want to get to a different position of this better, and includes more of a prisoners, more of the time.

CJ:That’s great to hear. Because I think we had often been concerned about education in prisons for a long time it’s by far the, the weakest performing of everything that we inspect in terms of the quality of education provided, but also it just strikes me that it’s such a huge opportunity. Within that, to raise to raise the standard of education, and, and therefore to have some of the impacts you’ve been talking about whether that’s rehabilitation or moving into work, or just re engaging in education for it’s own intrinsic worth, which I think is important as well. we’ve, we know that lots of prisoners would not have had a great time at school, by any means. In fact, probably some of the worst school experiences. And that would have flowed through into their adult lives and potentially even causing some of the problems that landed him in prison in the first place.

CJ: Which takes us on very nicely to talking more generally about what improvements, need to be made in prison education irrespective of the fact that we’ve been through a pandemic. Sheena talked about that too.

CJ: Do you think do you think education is appropriately prioritised in prisons, there’s a lot of stuff going on in prisons clearly a lot of things for people to juggle and managers to manage does education get the priority it needs.

SM: I think that there is room for development here and again I think there is the caveat that all prisons are different. And clearly, it is a specialist role in a prison to decide what the priority for any one individual is at the right time it that’s someone who knows the individual prisoner and knows what the arrangements needs are because of course, educational needs, don’t exist in a vacuum, but some of our clients, for example, include having a better data system an integrated data system, because if we’re in a position where we have an integrated data system that would help prisons know what priorities, individual prisoners have at a particular time, and therefore hopefully make it easier for those needs to be prioritised, but we recognise that of course that a range of priorities in prisons, and certainly some of the work that we’ll be doing around accountability and metrics should make some of the prioritisation issues and decisions easier and cleaer at establishment level. I would add that we’re doing all this work in partnership with stakeholders and of course that includes our stakeholders who probably work in prisons but also some of our long standing supporters of education, sort of Prisoners Education Trust, Prisoners Learning Alliance, and of course speaking to prisoners themselves. So yes, a lot to be done, but starting from a place where these have been is already a good practice even although some of that good practice has been suspended. Wholly or partially during the pandemic.

AT: I think particularly interesting the idea of keeping blended learning to make education more, you know, better available to those prisoners who were traditionally harder to reach.

CJ: Yeah I think prisons are having the same conversation that schools and colleges are having. As in, what are the best bits of online learning, we can keep while still understanding and getting all the advantages of traditional teacher led to face to face learning.

AT: Yeah, and I think it’s probably a good point to bring pulled back in so we talked about what Ofsted can do to help prisons improve and then he gave a whole system a call to action, as you can well imagine from someone so passionate about this topic.

AT: Now, if we think about our role in this, obviously we are there to inspect prisons, how do we help them improve, can we help them improve what do we do?

PJ: Well Anna I think we do have a vital role, and I’m very pleased that we are undertaking some additional activity and some additional research, because this, this is such an important area of our work. I mean, our job is to inspect and report, we obviously do that, And I have. I continually comment in both our annual report, and indeed in the prison inspectorates annual report about the quality of education and what needs to be done and actually Anna it is again, is time for me to call for action. To say that you know think things really do need to improve. COVID has made a situation that that wasn’t ideal much, much worse and education can play such an important role in rehabilitation and in reducing reoffending rates. We need to help HMPPS, we need to help individual prisons and education providers to do what they can to improve. So our reports, our thematic reviews, our recommendations, really do highlight why education provision isn’t working as well. And my call to action really is for those leaders and managers to to take heed of those recommendations and to improve things and improve things quickly.

AT: Okay, that’s, that’s really powerful stuff. I think our, you know, the ideal is that, obviously, safety is paramount for prisoners and staff working in that in those prisons but for education to be the first thing to go is tough. Now we mentioned the prison review education, obviously we will see that coming up, and I understand that you’re starting with research into reading into prisons which will hopefully bring some really helpful messages to the floor. Is there anything else you wanted to say about that one.

CJ: Well, the, the work we do during routine inspection is obviously vital and that looks at the quality of what’s been delivered in the curriculum that’s on offer. But as you rightly say it’s, it’s so important, reading, literacy, you know, writing, numeracy. These are essential skills, and we do find that, you know, in a typical prison population. There’s a lot of demand for literacy, numeracy, education activity. Sadly, often we don’t find enough of that activity going on, or where we do we find that quality isn’t, isn’t good enough so we’re hoping through this review to pinpoint what is working well, so good practice can be shared, but also to really shine a spotlight and say that this is what’s needed, and, you know, this is what needs to be done to improve reading literacy seems a really good starting point.

CJ: I want to echo Paul’s call to action for the sector, and that the startling need to improve prison education quickly.

AT: Yeah, I definitely agree. And can you just touch on the prison review that we’re doing so I think listeners out will be keen to hear a bit more.

CJ: Yeah, of course, so the review will look at various issues in prison education over the next year or so, but it will start with some research visits to prisons over the autumn term to look in particular at reading, we’ll be looking at how prisons, assess, prisoners reading ability when they arrive, how they do that throughout their time in prison, and how the whole prison education system works together to improve prisoners reading. What this means in terms of prisoners educational progress, and well being. We know from our work in education, more broadly, that reading is just such a huge part of education being able to read fluently and well, opens up the rest of the educational world; opens up the rest of the curriculum, opens up opportunities and not being able to read, as well as, as well as people can and should is a real barrier to both their education but also work and other aspects of their life.

AT: Thank you Chris as someone who used to be a English teacher, I could not agree more. I promise that not to mention that every podcast by the way, but thank you I think it’d be really timely piece of research and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the findings will be.

AT: Ok, so we’re nearly about the end of our episode for today. One question that we’ve had from our listeners do schools and colleges have to produce any sort of curriculum map.

CJ: Our that’s an easy one, Anna, the answer is a resounding no. Again, the inspection handbooks that we’ve produced a really clear that curriculum planning doesn’t have to be done in any format. Inspectors won’t ask for particular documents; inspectors just want to know how leaders design an ambitious and well sequenced curriculum how that prepares children well. For the next stage of their education providers will be asked what they want the children to learn, and how they know they’ve learnt it and what they do when they haven’t. And it’s as simple as that there’s no kind of curriculum map required no specific documents, it’s all about the conversation with the senior leaders and the subject leaders.

AT: Alright that’s really helpful. So that does bring to a close. This episode of Officer talks about prison education, thanks so much for listening, and I’m sure there’ll be another one soon.

FE News Podcast with Ofsted’s Paul Joyce 

17th Nov 2017: FE News recorded a podcast with Paul Joyce, Deputy Director of Further Education and Skills at Ofsted at the 2017 AoC Annual conference.

We were given a series of questions by our readers for Paul and he very kindly took time out to answer your questions.

Paul chats through the link between change across the sector, the FE System and Funding and how this can affect Ofsted grades.

He also chats about new providers and new entrants into the sector and Ofsted’s plans for them. We then chat about Ofsted and Subcontractors.

Paul then answers questions on English, Maths, careers advice and guidance in Schools and gives more details on the recent ‘requires improvement’ changes. 

Please click on the podcast below to hear what Paul has to say:

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