Project information

Changing the criminal record

Education in prisons is difficult. Teachers are isolated and learning isn’t always a priority. People reinvent the wheel because they don’t know what others are doing. That’s where we can help. Making a difference here can save millions of pounds and turn around thousands of lives.

April 2011 - March 2014

Charity information

The Institute of Education

The Institute of Education logo
  • Need


    The criminal justice system costs £60 million a year. The prison population is growing, and with under 25s responsible for over half of all offences, this can only get worse. Current practice just doesn’t work: two-thirds of male prisoners aged 18-24 are reconvicted within two years.

    People who end up in prison are often from disadvantaged backgrounds and can’t read or write, so they can’t get a job. But education in prisons and young offender institutions is incredibly difficult.


    Education transforms lives, and we are education experts. We’ll provide the evidence that’s desperately lacking on what happens in prison classrooms. And we’ll connect up practitioners so that the most effective ideas can flourish. We already have a network of all London prisons, now we’ll transform this into a national forum to make a real difference. We can promote the best ideas between practitioners, and we can make the policy gurus take notice of what practitioners’ experience offers.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Provide the evidence that is lacking on offender education


    » National networks for grassroots groups, service providers, voluntary agencies, employers and policymakers
    » A rapid research review of best evidence, which will be summarised in a user-friendly form for all those involved in the field
    » A powerful and innovative research/development programme, formed in consultation with experts, practitioners, policymakers and people serving sentence
    » An evaluation of the consequences of sentencing practices on educational outcomes and re-offending

    Success will be... an evidence base available to, and used by, policymakers on what works to educate people in the criminal justice system, and what hinders good education

    Aim 2

    connect and develop practitioners so as to propagate the most effective teaching and learning


    » National networks for grassroots groups, service providers, voluntary agencies, employers and policymakers
    » A website to serve as a national gateway for promoting best practice in offenders’ education and training
    » Accessible briefings, newsletters and summary reports
    » A wide-ranging, evidence-based teacher training and education programme, delivered in partnership with custodial and community institutions

    Success will be... a buzzing network of practitioners, exchanging ideas, engaging in professional development and improving the outcomes for their students

  • Impact


    Our overriding goal is to reduce the number of people in the criminal justice system. The project will raise the profile of education in prisons and community institutions, so that the educational experiences and outcomes of those serving sentences improve. They will then be better supported in their transition into the community upon release.


    Practitioners are often isolated and this could affect the project - people can't leave their duties to attend events, and internet access in prisons is often limited. We have dealt with this risk by planning to hold events inside prisons for the team, and by making materials available in different media, not just the web.


    We will prepare a report on progress annually, and this will be sent to donors. Donors will also be invited to events at which they will have the opportunity to meet those involved in the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £889,882

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £566,441 Staff and communications costs director, researcher, development officer, communications/events/admin officer, website, conferences
      £323,441 Support costs utilities, course development/marketing, quality assurance, library services, subscriptions/fees

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Sir John Cass's Foundation £50,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The Institute of Education, University of London is a world-renowned research and teaching institution, based in central London, between Euston and Russell Square. We have a strong team in the field of education in prisons, with practical experience, established connections and rock-solid research records. Our London Centre for Excellence for Teacher Training is already working with teachers and tutors in prison and offender education, and developing strategies for initial teacher training.


    With our reputation amongst education professionals and policymakers, we aim to benefit everyone in the criminal justice system.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    With Lord Ramsbotham already promoting our work to key players and willing to have a media role, this is a high-profile project. It’s also a secure investment, because we have a reputation for excellence and effectiveness, and we’re committed to making a difference. It also offers good value for money, as we’re building on an already functioning network, and there is a 50% government match available until July 2011, which means your money will go much further in achieving significant change.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Jane Hurry

    Jane has a long history of work in literacy difficulties and in education, training and employment of young people in the criminal justice system.

    John Vorhaus

    John taught in prisons for many years, and has directed studies on prisons and prison populations, teaching and learning, motivation and engagement.

    Lynne Rogers

    Lynne has long-standing interests in teacher/lecturer training and learning in further and higher education and other professional settings.

    Anita Wilson

    Anita has written and delivered multi-agency training packs for HM Prison Service, for the Youth Justice Board, and for the private sector.