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Project information

The Forgotten: Educating long sentenced prisoners

Education changes lives yet current government policy focuses on prisoners with a sentence of under a year.Those with a longer sentence cannot be forgotten. PET wants to provide these individuals with access to vital educational opportunities; proven by the Ministry of Justice to reduce reoffending.

January 2015 - December 2015

Charity information: Prisoners Education Trust

Prisoners Education Trust logo
  • Need


    The government’s agenda focuses on short sentenced prisoners (serving under 12 months) who will be held in newly appointed ‘resettlement prisons’. As a result, resources are being concentrated on these prisoners, in particular the last three months of a prisoner’s sentence. Longer sentenced prisoners are becoming a forgotten group, even though they make up almost half of the static prison population, and most are serving sentence lengths which will see them return to our communities on release.


    PET will provide access to distance learning courses, advice and guidance, ensuring learning tailored to individual areas of interest and personal career aspirations. Prisoners will rebuild their self-confidence, develop study skills, learn more about subjects close to their heart, and improve their employability and chances of successful resettlement on release. Our approach will ensure these individuals do not get lost in the system, but instead realise their potential and rebuild their lives.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To provide meaningful learning opportunities for 100 long sentenced prisoners.


    » Ensured appropriate courses are supplied to prisoners in a timely fashion and any they are supported as they begin this mode of study.
    » Undertake regular monitoring and correspondence with prisoners and prison staff to ensure effectiveness and to manage any issues which may arise.
    » Maintain relationships with prisoners as they finish courses, and help them undertake further courses and provide support on release as necessary.
    » Ensure long-term prisoner voices are heard in PET’s policy and research work – learner voice underpins all that we do.

    What success will look like

    Prisoners have completed their courses, and where possible gone onto further learning. Prisoners have an enhanced chance of successful resettlement.

    Aim 2

    To provide advice and guidance about distance learning and career progression.


    » Prisons are visited and advice given face to face, also via letter and telephone. All advice episode are recorded.
    » Distribution of PET course curriculum to prisoners and prison staff, alongside other career information as necessary.
    » Feedback and monitoring forms send to identify advice needs and any changes in behaviour.

    What success will look like

    Prisoners are more aware of the choices available to them and make informed decisions regarding their distance learning. Feedback forms evidence this.

    Aim 3

    To improve reported self-esteem, morale and motivation


    » Regular monitoring is undertaken with the use of baseline monitoring, end of course forms and follow up forms.
    » Correspondence from prisoners is monitored and addressed where received.
    » Relationships with prisoners are developed during their learning journey in prison and as they leave prison.

    What success will look like

    Prisoners have more self-esteem and motivation, playing a positive role in the prison regime. They feel their subject expertise and employability have improved.

    Aim 4

    To ensure the views of long sentenced prisoners are heard by policy-makers/key influencers.


    » Build on current PET research of the experience of long sentenced prisoners and undertake regular surveys to gather views.
    » Undertake a number of small focus groups with long-sentenced prisoners to gather views and inform research and debate.

    What success will look like

    A report is published based on the views of long-sentenced prisoners identifying their needs and providing recommendations as to how to address these.

  • Impact


    We will ensure prisoners improve their knowledge, study skills and employability, whilst being a positive part of their prison community. As their self-confidence improves, they will be able to rebuild relationships with their loved ones. We will demonstrate these success with feedback from prisoners and staff, and by monitoring those who go onto further study in prison or on release. We aim to reduce reoffending, though due to the nature of sentencing this will take a longer to evidence.


    Risks include prisoners being transferred to new prisons, restricted access to the library, computer room or other resources, or finding it difficult to get the support they need. Distance learning addresses some of these as individuals can undertake their courses in their cells, and take their course materials with them if they move. PET also ensures prisoner staff are fully trained and have a detailed understanding of distance learning and its potential.


    PET has an efficient database, with which we will be able to match funding to the individuals who ask us for help with those who wish to support this project. At the end of the project period provide a report to funders of those helped, courses funded, support provided, and future goals.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £42,500

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £25,200 Courses Average course cost (£252) x 100 prisoners
      £3,600 Advice Advice and careers guidance at £36/hour
      £13,700 Admin/Running Costs Administration of the courses (contacting suppliers etc), and essential running costs
  • Background


    Under the current government’s agenda long sentenced prisoners will be sent to prisons across England and Wales. PET works with prisons across this area (125 prisons in 2013). Those who are helped in this project will be supported no matter where they are, and will be provided with support according to their individual needs. We will visit the prisons where these prisoners are and ensure we listen to them, hear their views and help them move towards their aspirations. We will not forget them.


    Prisoners who have a sentence of a year or more are currently are not all receiving the educational opportunities which would improve their prison experience, or possibility for long-term resettlement. Most of those with a long sentence will ultimately be released and are arguably the most important to change and reform. These individuals will benefit, but also their staff and fellow prisoners, as well as their family, loved ones and the communities they return to on release.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    PET was founded in 1989 and since then has provided distance learning opportunities to over 28,000 individuals. On average we support around 2,000 people each year and have developed an unparalleled expertise in the niche of prisoner education, with our service delivery and policy and research work mutually reinforcing each other. One government official commented “they [PET] are [one of a small group of NGOs] we would take notice of because they are credible in what they say.”

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Suzan Nabbanja

    Suzan has been with PET for 10 years, has an in-depth understanding of distance learning and good relationships with prison staff across estate.

    John Lister

    John is advice manager and has a background in careers advice. He joined PET in 2012 and is able to support both learning and career progression.

    Siobhan Clohessy

    Siobhan helps to process requests for courses, gives information and advice to men and women and ensures course suppliers are effective and efficient.

    Clare Taylor

    As policy and research officer, Clare is instrumental is gathering and assessing the feedback we receive. She makes sure prisoners’ views are hear.