From education to employment

ETF response to the Coates Review into education in prisons

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) today welcomed the Coates Review into education in prisons.  This is an historic opportunity for reform that will help prisoners’ rehabilitation, and benefit society as a whole.  The Coates Review puts considerable emphasis on supporting and developing the prison education workforce.  

Olivia Dorricott, the ETF Director for Leadership, was a member of the Coates Review.  She said:

“Prison Education can truly change lives and speed up rehabilitation.  The Review was an invaluable opportunity to hear from a huge range of people, to see some great teaching and learning, and determined leadership.

“The further education and training sector prides itself on providing second chances, and giving people new skills so that they can thrive in society.  We look forward to building on the work the ETF already does so that more professionals – teachers and leaders – are supported and effective practice shared, to benefit prisoners.” 

ETF leads quality improvement in education and training in all post-16 settings.   The ETF already works closely with the prison education workforce, and is currently training or otherwise engaged with several hundred teachers and trainers, working in 91% of prisons.  

The ETF also welcomes the emphasis in the Review on building capacity, leadership and the development needed to deliver effective teaching.    We provide professional development for leaders as well as individual practitioners, and we also support organisation-wide improvement. 

Prison Governors will have much more autonomy in how prison education is commissioned and delivered.  We look forward to working with them and all staff to help each prison achieve excellence in education and training, with a clear focus on work readiness and relevant qualifications.

The ETF today publishes two research reports used in evidence for the Review.


A report on the makeup of the prison education workforce. We must understand the people that will lead change across each prison – not just the 5000 or so teachers and instructors but also those on the wings and in leadership roles.  Staff have similar educational qualifications to staff in FE colleges but face more barriers and challenges.

A rapid review of key international evidence about prison education and reoffending ratesThis demonstrates clearly that “…there are prison education strategies in other countries that impact on reoffending rates.” (p 18 of that document).

The ETF is also committed to encouraging staff recruitment to prisons and is pleased that the Coates Review recognises the value of our new guide to getting into prison teaching.

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