From education to employment

Real Rewards for Real Education, says Forum on Prisoner Education

What is the best remuneration for changing an offender’s life?

Prison education staff work under the most difficult conditions, dealing with all kinds of learners and even disturbed students. Their job is more about developing people inside and out than mere lectures and text books. However, a recent research by the Forum on Prisoner Education (FPE) shows that many prison educators earn 10 per cent less than their colleagues in mainstream Further Education.

The FPE has collated and evaluated 141 job advertisement samples appearing between 1st January and 31st July 2005 in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) and the weekly education supplement in The Guardian. These indicate average salaries ranging from £17358 for learning support staff to £38008 for Head of learning and skills.

A Historic Anomaly

“This has been a historical anomaly and the prison staff has always been paid less over the years. We must understand that these people are doing a much constructive job in an extremely challenging environment,” says the FPE Director Steve Taylor. The research figures show that Learning Support Assistants in prisons earn approximately 3.5 per cent less than their counterparts in mainstream education.

Tutors and lecturers earn seven per cent less and curriculum coordinators earn almost ten per cent less. It is difficult to compare figures for Education Managers and their Deputies, and for Heads of Learning & Skills, as the posts are not necessarily replicated elsewhere in the further education sector.

A case of social payback”¦

So, who are the ones who come forward to teach the “special” lot even though the payback isn”t attractive? “The vast majority of staff are Further Education tutors from private training colleges and study centres, who already have the basic teaching skills. For instance, City College, Manchester, provides teaching staff to 27 prisons,” says Steve. These people offer their skilled services through a desire to make a real contribution to society.

Talking about the government’s initiative towards prisoner education, Steve believes the Government’s focus has always remained on the development of the basic skills of prison students where about sixty per cent of the students are under skilled. Be that as it may, the efforts of these educators should definitely be appreciated in some way.

Aakriti Kaushik

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