All prisoners are expected and enabled to engage in education, skills or work activities that increase their employability on release. There are sufficient, suitable education, skills and work places to meet the needs of the population and provision is of a good standard.

For prisons in Northern Ireland, which we inspect only by invitation, we will use the Education and Training Inspectorate Northern Ireland’s inspection and self-evaluation framework, which can be found here and is reproduced below. For prisons in England, see Expectation 72; for prisons in Wales see Expectation 73.

Prisoners achieve the best possible outcomes in their education, work and activities.

The Education and Training Inspectorate’s (ETI) Inspection and Self-Evaluation Framework (ISEF) sets out the main criteria for judging outcomes for prisoners, taking account of:
– standards attained;
– progression; and
– the development of prisoner’s wider skills and dispositions/capabilities.

Effective practice in raising standards is demonstrated when:

  • the organisation has raised the attainment of the prisoners and they are able to develop, achieve and demonstrate high standards in all aspects of their work;
  • the organisation develops and enables the prisoners to transfer and apply their knowledge, skills and understanding across their learning and to other settings;
  • the prisoners achieve suitably high levels of competency in the development and application of their knowledge and skills in English, mathematics and Information and Communication Technology (ICT);
  • through high quality learning experiences the prisoners achieve to their full potential, including those with diverse needs and barriers to learning; and
  • appropriately high standards are attained by the prisoners that enable them to achieve success in internal and external assessments and examinations.

Effective practice in progression is demonstrated when:

  • the organisation, through appropriate intervention and support, ensures that prisoners make sustained progress in their learning and development, and achieve suitably challenging learning and training targets, to reach their full potential;
  • the prisoners continually develop their communication and personal skills enabling them to work more independently and collaboratively with a diverse range of people, using their initiative and demonstrating resilience to resolve problems; and
  • through a well-planned learning programme the prisoners develop the necessary skills and achieve the most appropriate qualifications in order for them to progress successfully to employment, or to further education and training.

Effective practice in the development of the prisoner’s wider skills and dispositions/capabilities is demonstrated when:

  • the prisoners are motivated, engage well in their learning, develop their confidence, self-esteem and self- awareness and take responsibility for their behaviour and progression;
  • the organisation develops and enables the prisoners to work well in teams, demonstrating respect for different perspectives and reaching agreement through compromise;
  • the prisoners can research and manage information by thinking flexibly, critically and creatively, making informed decisions, and using their initiative to solve problems; and
  • in addition to their main programme of study the prisoners play a key part in the life of the organisation through their participation in a range of enrichment activities, which contributes effectively to their personal and social development.

Prisoners benefit from good quality teaching and a relevant range of learning experiences that equip them for their release from prison.

The ETI ISEF sets out the main criteria for judging the quality of provision, taking account of the:
– quality of the curriculum;
– effectiveness of guidance and support in bringing about high quality individual learning experiences; and
– effectiveness and impact of planning, teaching and assessment in promoting successful learning.

Effective practice in curriculum design is demonstrated when the:

  • curriculum is broad, balanced, relevant, reviewed regularly and is in line with Government priorities and legislative requirements. It promotes economic development and social inclusion, and provides appropriate enrichment opportunities for prisoners; and
  • overall curriculum planning is coherent, supports economic development, matches the aspirations and potential of the individual prisoners and provides them with a holistic programme of study including progression opportunities.

Effective practice in providing high quality guidance and support is demonstrated when:

  • the prisoners receive impartial, accurate pre-entry information and guidance that helps them to choose and access the most appropriate learning programme that provides progression from their prior learning and experiences;
  • the organisation ensures that key stakeholders are well informed about all aspects of the learning programme and the opportunities for development and progression;
  • individual learning needs of the prisoners are clearly identified, appropriate supportive interventions are planned, and the impact of the support arrangements are effectively tracked and monitored; and
  • the prisoners are provided with well-informed, impartial careers education, information, advice and guidance which enhances their personal development, decision making and informs effectively their future resettlement needs and career planning.

Effective planning, teaching and assessment is demonstrated when:

  • the planning for learning is comprehensive, sets high expectations and takes appropriate account of the prisoners’ levels of prior educational achievement and developmental needs;
  • the learning, teaching, and training provide prisoners with consistently high-quality learning experiences which are relevant, inspirational, engaging, challenging and result in successful outcomes; and
  • a wide range of assessment strategies are used appropriately to guide planning, teaching, and training, and to support learning.

Leadership and management of education, skills and activities improve outcomes that prisoners achieve.

The ETI ISEF sets out overarching criteria for judging the effectiveness of leadership and management of education, skills and work activities, taking account of the:
– effectiveness and impact of the strategic leadership;
– effectiveness and impact of middle leadership; and
– effectiveness of action to promote and sustain improvement including self-evaluation and the development planning processes.

Effective strategic leadership is demonstrated when:

  • there is a shared, strategic vision and a well-informed plan matched appropriately to organisational objectives to meet local and regional education and training needs and Government priorities;
  • there is an effective organisational structure that supports the achievement of strategic objectives, staff are provided with clear roles, responsibilities and continuing professional development opportunities, and positive working relationships exist;
  • strategic leaders use key management information processes to implement, monitor, evaluate, review and action strategic and operational planning across all of the functions of the organisation and to identify and set benchmarks and indicators for success;
  • a wide range of productive links and partnerships with key stakeholders are developed to support the work of the organisation and which contribute effectively to economic development, and social inclusion; and
  • strategic leaders provide resources and accommodation that are of a high quality, to contemporary industry standard and managed effectively to support high quality learning, teaching and training.

Effective middle leadership is demonstrated when:

  • middle leaders implement effectively the priorities identified in the strategic plan, and develop and manage the curriculum effectively to support economic engagement, and to meet the needs and aspirations of prisoners;
  • middle leaders effectively monitor, track, evaluate and review the quality of the curriculum in their area of responsibility and evaluate the impact of planning, teaching and assessment on learning; and
  • there are effective links and collaborative partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders and external bodies to support and enhance learning, teaching and training.

Effective practice in promoting and sustaining improvement is demonstrated when:

  • the organisation has clear and appropriate strategies and processes in place for the review and improvement of the quality of provision, including sharing of effective practice and systematic addressing of underperformance;
  • all staff and partner organisations are involved effectively in the self-evaluation and quality improvement planning processes and use timely and accurate data, to bring about improvement in the quality of provision;
  • there is a supportive cycle of lecturer/tutor observations in place, the outcomes from which inform well self-evaluation and are used effectively to improve and develop practice;
  • there is clear evidence that the planned actions in the quality improvement plan, including feedback from prisoners and key stakeholders, have brought about sustained improvement; and high expectations of prisoner performance and outcomes underpin all of the work of self-evaluation and quality improvement planning.

Care and welfare impacts positively on learning, teaching and outcomes for prisoners.

The ETI ISEF sets out the main criteria for judging the care and welfare arrangements for prisoners.

Effective practice in care and welfare is demonstrated when:

  • the organisation has a culture that actively promotes all aspects of prisoner welfare in a safe and secure environment;
  • relationships with the wider community, including external agencies and employers, support the holistic development of the prisoners;
  • mutual respect, openness and trust is established at all levels with positive behaviour promoted consistently;
  • the personal development and preventative education curriculum is regularly reviewed, flexible and responsive to the current and local needs of the prisoners;
  • there are high levels of attendance, punctuality and engagement throughout the organisation; and
  • the prisoners know how to keep themselves safe, fit and healthy, both physically and emotionally.