Crime costs the UK. And it is not just the victims of individual offences who lose out: the overall cost of reoffending to society is estimated to be a staggering £18.1bn each year by the Ministry of Justice.
But there is a proven means of reducing reoffending – and tackling this annual cost. Other research by the Ministry of Justice has found that people who participated in education whilst in prison were 7.5% points less likely to reoffend within 12 months of release than those who did not.
Education is particularly critical in prison because of the limited or negative experiences of education many prisoners went through in their earlier years. As Isabelle Goodhand in a previous North West Bylines article has pointed out, 57% of adult prisoners have literacy levels below those expected of an 11 year old, while half of prisoners in the UK have neurodivergent needs.
But the situation is by no means hopeless – and here in the North West, two prisons have been singled out by inspectors for their efforts to prepare learners for the world of work after release.
The work of prison education provider Novus
National prison education provider Novus was praised for its ambitious curricula as part of inspections which lauded the provision at HMP Haverigg in Cumbria and HMP Preston in Lancashire.
The ‘good’ ratings for overall effectiveness are the culmination of a concerted and collaborative effort in both HMP Haverigg and HMP Preston to help ensure prisoners have the best possible opportunity to gain the skills that are so crucial to breaking cycles of reoffending.
In its report on HMP Haverigg, Ofsted highlighted the support offered to prisoners with additional learning needs and those with English as an additional language, stating that they “make good progress on their course and achieve their qualifications” and that “leaders and managers have created an ambitious curriculum that develops prisoners’ employability skills well.”
Within the report, Ofsted specifically called out the work that Novus provides, highlighting the curriculum:
“The prison education framework (PEF) provider, Novus, has put in place a successful curriculum that meets the needs of the population. Prisoners benefit from a well-planned and well-taught curriculum that is sequenced in a logical way. Leaders and managers put in place appropriate support for tutors, including external mentoring and training in topics such as assessments at the start of the course and how to provide effective feedback. Leaders and tutors accurately identify prisoners’ starting points at the start of their courses. They complete a comprehensive assessment that identifies what prisoners already know and can do. This enables tutors to challenge prisoners effectively to reach their full potential.”
Similarly, the report by HMP Chief Inspector of Prisons on HMP Preston, where the education provision received a ‘good’ rating, is also testament to the hard work of the team at the establishment. The report points out that “Novus provided an effective curriculum for education, personal and social development and vocational training activities across the prison”, while adding that “teaching staff prepared prisoners well for success in employment and training.”
The reports at both HMP Haverigg and HMP Preston are testament to the collaborative and supportive environment within the prisons, making education provision a real priority for prisoners within the establishments. This would not have been possible without the dedication of colleagues across Novus, HMPPS and our partners who have all worked together to transform the futures of learners.
The findings further underline the vital role that a high-quality prison education can play in rehabilitating prisoners and ensuring the offenders develop skills that lead to employment or education on release, reducing the likelihood of reoffending.