Education News: Inmates may get better education if shake-up goes ahead – 23/09/10
A review of prison education is expected to propose a big shake-up to improve the service
The dismal cycle of prisoners reoffending costs everyone dear. It led Ken Clarke, soon after his appointment as justice secretary, to declare that the country needs a "rehabilitation revolution".
Fine words, but how to go about it? One way forward could be a thorough shake-up of the prison education service, whose performance has been severely criticised in the recent past, and whose principal provider, The Manchester College (TMC), has been a focal point of industrial unrest.
Mindful of recent problems, the further education minister, John Hayes, moved swiftly to launch a review of offender learning. His mission is to cut the recidivism rate, which would make sense "in social as well as financial terms", he says.
Hayes's findings, due to be published in December, should make interesting reading. Five weeks of consultation end on Friday. The review will include the voices of "all the partners and organisations who deliver offender learning and those who represent their staff, organisations in the charitable and voluntary sector, and employers".
"We'll also be talking to offenders themselves," says Hayes. "I need to understand where the problems lie." The findings will form part of Ken Clarke's green paper on justice reform.
Yet it may be unrealistic to expect swift results. Consider the low baseline: two thirds of all prisoners have literacy levels below that expected of 11-year-olds. They are, by their nature, hard to reach.
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