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.

In Wales, this part of the inspection will be conducted by Estyn. To ensure that prisons are held accountable to the same standard of performance as further education colleges in the community, we have chosen to explicitly adopt Estyn’s common inspection framework, which explains the different style of this section of Expectations. For prisons in England, see Expectation 72.

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

Estyn’s common inspection framework (CIF) and inspection guidance set out the main criteria for judging standards, taking account of:
– standards and progress overall;
– standards and progress of specific groups; and
– standards and progress in skills.

  • The standards reached by prisoners overall are appropriate to their abilities.
  • Prisoners make good, timely progress towards achieving appropriate qualifications and challenging learning goals.
  • Prisoners recall previous learning, develop thinking skills, acquire new knowledge, understanding and skills, and apply these to new situations.
  • Particular groups of learners, for example learners on different levels, learners from disadvantaged backgrounds and those from ethnic minority groups, make good progress.
  • Prisoners with additional learning needs progress well towards well-defined, individual targets that take good account of their needs and abilities.
  • Prisoners are stretched to make as much progress as they can, given their starting points and their ability, including those with more developed vocational skills or academic achievements.
  • Prisoners develop the skills of speaking and listening, reading and writing (in Welsh/English), numeracy and ICT that equip them to succeed and progress their education, skills and work activities and to reach their progression aims.
  • Prisoners develop the skills they need in order that they can progress effectively to the next stage of their education, employment, self-employment or training within the prison, or outside of prison when they are released.
  • Prisoners develop their awareness of the value of the Welsh language and those who speak Welsh develop their use of the language within education, work and activities.

73.2. Prisoners feel safe in education, work and activities and develop behaviours that help them to minimise reoffending.

Estyn’s CIF and inspection guidance set out the main criteria for judging prisoners’ well-being and attitudes to learning, taking account of:
– well-being; and
– attitudes to learning.

  • Prisoners feel safe and secure, and free from physical and verbal abuse during their education, work and activities.
  • Prisoners know how they can protect themselves from harassment, discrimination and extremism.
  • Prisoners participate fully in activities that motivate them and improve their awareness of how to reduce reoffending behaviours (for example, through money management, personal development or employability courses).
  • Prisoners develop confidence, resilience and an ability to engage with new, unfamiliar experiences, ideas and people.
  • Prisoners take interest and pride in their work, their ability to sustain concentration and to avoid distractions.
  • Prisoners engage in tasks and bring them to completion.
  • Prisoners persevere and remain purposeful when they face difficulties or seek other solutions when their first approach to a problem is unsuccessful.
  • Prisoners are able to work in a range of ways, for example independently, in small groups and in whole-class settings.
  • Prisoners demonstrate respect for the contributions of others, for example by allowing others to speak or by remaining calm when others disagree with them.
  • Prisoners are well motivated to attend their learning sessions and work activities regularly and punctually and show a positive attitude to developing their skills.
  • Prisoners understand how they can improve their physical and emotional health by making choices about what they eat and drink, as well as through the physical, educational and work activities they undertake.
  • Inspectors should evaluate how well prisoners’ behaviour in education and work settings complies with any guidelines for behaviour and conduct stipulated by the prison.
  • Prisoners develop an understanding of how they can avoid reoffending when they are released and develop strategies to reduce reoffending behaviours.

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

Estyn’s CIF and inspection guidance set out the main criteria for judging the quality of teaching and learning experiences, taking account of:
– quality of teaching;
– the breadth, balance and appropriateness of the curriculum; and
– provision for skills.

  • Oral and written feedback from staff helps prisoners to know how well they are doing and what they need to do to improve.
  • Prisoners assess their own performance effectively and that of other prisoners, where appropriate.
  • Teachers make effective use of valid, accurate and reliable assessments of prisoners’ needs, skills and work to inform their future planning of education, work or activities.
  • Teachers set inspiring targets to challenge prisoners in developing their skills and knowledge.
  • Teachers track and monitor prisoners’ progress clearly and effectively, making effective use of the outcomes of tracking and monitoring to identify relevant issues and respond appropriately, for example through the provision of appropriate support and challenge, the use of intervention strategies, and the mentoring or coaching of individuals or groups.
  • Staff are well qualified and have good subject knowledge and experience relevant to their roles, to reflect best industry practice and to meet prisoners’ and employers’ needs.
  • Teachers make effective use of trained peer mentors to provide prisoners with focused individual guidance and help
  • Staff identify prisoners’ support and additional learning needs through effective initial assessment, and provide high quality and effective support to help them achieve challenging goals.
  • The curriculum and range of education, work and activities, including arrangements to ensure that prisoners acquire the necessary skills in literacy (Welsh/English), numeracy and ICT, meet the needs of all prisoners in order to prepare them for the labour market or to progress into opportunities when they are released.
  • Teachers help prisoners to understand issues relating to equality and diversity, and to develop the values of tolerance and respect.
  • Teachers challenges stereotypes in prisoners’ attitudes, choices and expectations.
  • Staff provide clear attention and focus within education, work and activities on motivating and supporting prisoners to develop their skills in English/Welsh, mathematics and employability in order to achieve their learning goals and resettlement plans.

73.4. The provision of care, support and guidance helps learners to overcome barriers and to plan their progress successfully.

Estyn’s CIF and inspection guidance set out overarching criteria for judging the effectiveness of care, support and guidance, taking account of:
– tracking, monitoring and the provision of learning support;
– healthy choices and active citizenship;
– spiritual, moral, social and cultural education; and
– safeguarding.

  • Prisoners receive the support they need to overcome barriers to learning or progress.
  • Staff track the impact of support they give prisoners to identify that it is effective in helping them to make good progress.
  • Prisoners receive good quality, accessible information, advice and guidance, which they use effectively to plan their progression steps.
  • Impartial guidance and advice is provided to prisoners to help them make informed decisions in planning their learning and activities while in prison so that they can improve their progression and resettlement planning.
  • Prisoners’ learning plans are linked with and take good account of prisoners’ sentence plans.
  • Staff use release on temporary licence (ROTL) effectively and appropriately to enhance prisoners’ employment or training skills and prepare them for release.
  • Staff encourage and support prisoners who are due for release (including through access to modern means of job search and job application via the internet) to progress to suitable further education, training and employment on release.
  • Staff have good systems in place to record and monitor prisoners’ behaviour.
  • Prisoners’ employment-related skills are recognised and recorded effectively.

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

Estyn’s CIF and inspection guidance set out overarching criteria for judging the effectiveness of leadership and management of education, skills and work activities, taking account of:
– quality and effectiveness of leaders and managers, including the governing body;
– self-evaluation processes and improvement planning;
– professional development; and
– use of resources.

  • Leaders and managers have established and communicated a clear vision and aims, strategic objectives, plans and policies that focus on meeting prisoners’ needs, reducing reoffending and facilitating prisoners’ reintegration back into society.
  • Leaders and managers take good account of labour market information in planning the education and work activities available to prisoners.
  • Leaders and managers have developed clear methods to analyse the impact of provision on prisoners’ outcomes and on reducing reoffending behaviour.
  • Leaders and managers monitor the progression into and destinations in education, employment and training of prisoners who are leaving prison and they use this data in planning their provision.
  • Leaders and managers analyse their strengths and areas for development and use first-hand evidence to inform planning.
  • Leaders and managers at all levels set high expectations for staff, prisoners and themselves.
  • Leaders and managers model and promote professional values and behaviours that contribute positively to the provision’s improvement and effective collaboration between staff and with other providers.
  • Leaders and managers share positive features of provision with staff and collaborate with other providers to achieve improvements in the education system locally, regionally and nationally to build its capacity for continuous improvement and to improve prisoners’ reintegration into society.
  • Leaders and managers ensure that there is sufficient provision of appropriate education, skills and work to cater for the full prison population and which leads to accreditation whenever possible.
  • There are effective arrangements in place to ensure that prisoners are allocated to activities promptly, attend them regularly and arrive at sessions on time.
  • Leaders and managers have effective arrangements to support the active engagement of all staff in increasing their professional knowledge, understanding and skills, including participation in professional learning experiences, appraisal and performance management, and to ensure that this engagement impacts positively on prisoners’ education, work and activities.
  • Leaders and managers identify good practice within the provision and share this with staff.
  • Leaders and managers manage the performance of staff well in order to help staff to improve their practice, addressing issues of underperformance robustly and directly where necessary.
  • Leaders and managers have a clear and measurable strategy to improve prisoners’ literacy, numeracy and digital competence.
  • The quality of improvement planning is robust and the priorities for improvement link well to the findings of the prison’s self-evaluation.
  • There are effective systems to ensure that leaders and managers define actions for improvement in specified and realistic timescales and allocate responsibility for their delivery.
  • Leaders and managers ensure that priorities are supported by the allocation of resources.
  • Leaders and managers monitor and analyse prisoners’ progress, including the progress of specific or vulnerable groups, in education.
  • Pay rates encourage prisoners to participate and progress in education.
  • Leaders and managers have a clear strategy to promote Welsh language skills and the Welsh dimension within activities for prisoners which encourages all prisoners, especially Welsh speakers, to use and develop their Welsh language skills.
  • Leaders and managers organise education, work and activities to ensure that prisoners are kept fully occupied and busy during sessions.

Further resources

Life in prison: Earning and spending money

This findings paper is part of a series which focuses on daily life in prisons and young offender institutions (YOIs). It summarises literature surrounding earning and spending money in prison.

Resettlement provision for adult offenders: accommodation and education, training and employment

A joint thematic review by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, HM Inspectorate of Probation and Ofsted (September 2014)

Estyn: Guidance handbook for the inspection of learning in the justice sector (adult prisons) (English version)

Estyn: Guidance handbook for the inspection of learning in the justice sector (adult prisons) (Welsh version)

Human rights standards

There are detailed human rights standards relating both to the right to work (UDHR 23; ICESCR 8) and the right to education (UDHR 26; ICESCR 13) in the prison context. Standards relating to prisons emphasise that work should never be used as a punishment, should be of a useful nature, equitably remunerated, and equip prisoners with a vocation they can use on release. Remand prisoners should have the opportunity to work. Prisoners should be employed for a normal working day and have at least one rest day per week. Standards also focus on prisoners’ earnings, health and safety and social security systems. See SMR 96, 97, 98, 101, 102, 103.2, 116; EPR 26; BPTP 8. See also CESCR General Comment 23.

Human rights standards are clear that all prisoners should have access to comprehensive educational programmes that meet their individual needs, with special attention given to those with educational needs. Education should enjoy similar status as work within the prison regime. See SMR 104; EPR 28. See also ECOSOC resolution 1990/20 Prison Education; UN Special Rapporteur on Education, The right to education of persons in detention (2009).