SSAT in innovative approach to supporting and developing education for prison inmates
SSAT TEEP has helped to support and develop the education service at the Sheppey cluster of prisons, which includes HMP Swaleside, HMP Elmley and HMP Standford Hill, covering categories B to D, open prison to long-term sentences.
The Sheppey cluster, as with many prisons, has an education service with both external tutors and instructors employed by the prisons themselves.
TEEP (Teacher Effectiveness Enhancement Programme) has helped to boost the education service here. The programme consists of a teaching and learning framework and comprehensive training to identify, validate and build on the existing experience and expertise of teaching staff.
A focus for TEEP training was to support cross fertilisation of best practice between tutor and instructor, remove barriers to collaboration and to foster tutor to instructor support mechanisms, building both scalability and sustainability.
TEEP training began in mid October 2015, with staff from all three prisons attending training within the open prison at Standford Hill.
One outcome is a firm relationship developing between instructors and tutors across all the sites. Several of these staff commented on how using the TEEP language and understanding supports sharing of ideas, resources and expertise.
Feedback from the delegates after the first two days included: “I thoroughly enjoyed learning all of the activities and seeing how I can apply them to my own class”; “An enjoyable learning environment where everybody felt comfortable to contribute. I learned a great deal about my own teaching methods, tools and principles to improve them;” and “I can see this definitely improving our Ofsted grades!”
And at the end of the programme: “I recommend this course, as TEEP sparks ideas to adapt into our own teaching and is very relevant to teaching and learning in modern education with our custodial environment;” and “this was an excellent opportunity to bring everyone on the Isle of Sheppey prisons together and I believe we have all benefitted from it.”
A subsequent Ofsted inspection after training commented on how much collaboration among all staff was evident, with the sharing of lesson plans, resources and reflections.
On May 18th, Dame Sally Coates published her review of prison education; Unlocking potential: a review of education in prison and in it made a series of observations and recommendations on the premise that education matters – it matters in reducing the financial burden, some £9.5-£13 billion a year of public money is lost to re-offending. It also matters in seeing prisoners as the ‘whole person’ which dictates an approach to learning that achieves the desired rehabilitation outcomes.
It was particularly inspiring to read in Dame Sally Coates’ review that all adults in contact with prisoners are ‘teachers’ – and that they impact on the education of inmates. The review highlights a number of measures that will improve education for a large number of prisoners such as personal learning plans and smarter use of ICT. One aspect that jumped off the page;
‘Previous experiences, convictions, qualifications and educational achievements will be taken into consideration, including their ability to teach or support others in a peer mentor capacity.’
Prisoners are learners, but learners can be teachers too, just as we find in the schools system. When given this level of responsibility for this precious thing we call education, learners flourish, they challenge themselves and by teaching they learn.
A culture of high-quality teaching and learning is developing at all these sites; they have a motivated, informed and effective teaching workforce. The future for prisoner education in the Sheppey cluster of prisons looks bright.
Although this development is still in the embryonic stages, there is a clear vision and desire to nurture and develop the professional capital within the prison education service. SSAT TEEP will continue to support prison educators to ensure that every prisoner has the opportunity to benefit from education.