Two teachers from Feltham Young Offender Institution have been awarded for their outstanding work, after being nominated by some of their students.
Emily Dewar-Langridge and Sangeetha Navendren both received ‘Outstanding Teacher’ awards at a prize giving organised by the Prisoner Learning Alliance (PLA).
The awards recognise teachers, librarians, officers and peer mentors who make a real difference to the lives of prisoners through their passion and talent for education.
The PLA received over 200 nominations, all of which came from people currently serving prison sentences. Emily and Sangeetha were nominated by 14 different young men who they teach at Feltham.
In a letter nominating Emily, who teaches higher level learners, one young man wrote that Emily had “inspired him to be better person”.
“Not only does she do what the curriculum states, she goes above and beyond to help prisoners,” he wrote. “Before coming to this class with Emily it was as if my education was going nowhere, but Emily helped me to plan my future education, not only in prison but on the outside.”
“I’m not the smartest guy in the world but my teacher Emily makes me feel I am - she pushes me every day. It’s very hard to get people like that in your life, so you have to be grateful for every second you spend with them.”
Sangeetha runs Feltham's Reflective Learning pathway, for those that need to address challenging behaviour and have been excluded from the main provision.
In letters nominating Sangeetha, students said had “gone the extra mile” to encourage them to focus on their studies and gain qualifications.
“She has motivated me to do work, and she’s made me think of other ways to deal with my anger,” wrote one. "Even when I refuse to see her in the morning she comes back in the afternoon, and she doesn’t give up on me.”
Another wrote: "She helps me to stay out of trouble, helps me focus on my studies and get my head down."
Emily and Sangeetha were two of 22 winners across four categories. This is the first time the PLA has included winners from the young people's estate.
Nina Champion, Head of Policy at Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET), organised the awards. She said:
“We were overwhelmed not only by the number of nomination letters we received, but by the heartfelt messages of gratitude within them. Our winners work tirelessly, often in difficult settings. The awards celebrate their achievements and remind us that even in the most adverse circumstances, education has the power to change lives.”
This is the first year the awards have included winners from the young people’s estate. PET has just published a report recognising the value of education for young people in custody, and the barriers they currently face.
Jo Stevens, Shadow Prisons Minister and MP for Cardiff Central, presented the awards. She said:
“Being able to recognise the achievements of people in prison is a great privilege. Prisoner education is a critical part of every prisoner’s rehabilitation journey. It provides a chance to re-enter society with new or improved skills, to find employment and the opportunity to lead a fulfilling, law abiding life after sentence.”
The awards were part of the Annual PLA conference, which saw over 150 sector experts gather to discuss the challenges and opportunities of proposed reforms to prison education.
The awards were also supported by Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah. He said:
“Education is key to helping prisoners turn their lives around and in particular to securing employment which we know reduces reoffending.
"We want prisons to be places of hard work and high ambition, with incentives for prisoners to learn. Which is why I want to congratulate all those involved in this year’s awards who have offered support, advice and provided prisoners with this opportunity.”
Victoria Blakeman, Director of Offender Management at Prospects - which provides the education in Feltham Young Offender Institution, said:
“We are very proud of Emily and Sangeetha who have been recognised for their outstanding commitment to the young men they work with. It is fantastic to hear directly from those who have benefited from their work about the difference Emily and Sangeetha have made. At Prospects, each year, we inspire more than 500,000 people to develop their potential, Emily and Sangeetha exemplify some of the ways we do this.”
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Notes to Editor
For more information on the conference or awards, including case studies and photos, please contact Media Manager Katy Oglethorpe on email@example.com / 020 3752 5676 / 0791 2161 536
- ‘The Future of Prison Education. Personalised and Peer-Enabled Approaches’, is the third annual PLA conference, held at Cardiff Metropolitan University on 16 September. See a full agenda and details here.
- The Prisoner Learning Alliance was formed in 2012 by the charity Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) to provide expertise and vision to inform future priorities, policies and practices relating to prison education, learning and skills. It now brings together 23 expert organisations who work to champion learning for people in prison. For the full list of members see here.
- Since 1989, PET has supported prisoners to engage in rehabilitation through learning. The charity does this by providing advice and funding for over 2,000 people per year for distance learning courses in subjects and levels not generally available in prisons. PET also carries out research, informed by prisoner learners, to improve prison education policies.
- A report by the MoJ shows that prisoners helped by PET reoffend 6 to 8 percentage points less than a matched control group. Analysis by Pro Bono Economics shows that it would only take a one percentage point reduction in reoffending to be the result of that support for the benefits to outweigh the costs of the investment.
The Prospects Group provides tailored education, employment, training and care products and services for people at all stages of life. Each year Prospects inspires more than 500,000 people to develop their potential and transform their lives. More than 1,400 professional and skilled colleagues provide practical support to the local communities they are based in across the UK and internationally. Prospects is one of the largest employee owned companies in the UK. It is also a Leader in Diversity and ranked in the top 100 index by the National Centre for Diversity.
For more information please visit: www.prospects.co.uk
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