A more active role for prison learning

The House of Commons Education and Skills Committee painted a bleak picture of education in the prison service in a March 2005 report. Only a third of inmates, many of whom lack formal qualifications, had access to education at any given time. The system was so antiquated that paper records would frequently arrive weeks after prisoners or someone on probation had moved.

To address the problem, the Department of Education and Skills has taken a more active role in prison learning. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in the south west region recently purchased a learning platform from Tribal Technology, a provider of education delivery and tracking systems.

The LSC will use Tribal’s Maytas management information system to provide a centralised database to handle inmates’ individual learning records (ILRs) to track prisoners’ training and give the prison managers greater insight into their educational needs.

“The funding for education in prisons may eventually be calculated from the recorded ILR data,” says Frank Wellgate, technical director for Maytas, from Aldcliffe Computer Systems which is part of Tribal Technology. “But it will take an initial planning year to check the data for accuracy and complete this analysis. This task is made harder by the fact there is not really a system in place to migrate over from.”

“Too often, a learner will arrive from another prison with no record of their prior learning,” says Wellgate. “A lot of time and effort is wasted because they are assessed again, not to mention the non-productive effect on the learner of doing the same tests again and again.”

The hope and expectation is that staff using Maytas will make the educational experience of the itinerant prison population as progressive and continuous as possible.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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