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Project information

Education for women in prison

Education in prison is proven to reduce re-offending, build confidence and self-esteem, and reconnect families. PET will provide women in prison with distance learning courses, advice and guidance in subjects and levels which would otherwise not be available to enable them to progress and grow.

January 2019 - December 2019

Charity information: Prisoners Education Trust

Prisoners Education Trust logo
  • Need


    Women in prison have complex needs; 53% report having experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child. There are no women’s prisons in Wales and only 12 in England. As such, women are often incarcerated miles from their homes (the average distance is 60 miles but many are held considerably further away). They often lose their homes, and relationships with family and children can be put under huge strain.


    PET will provide women with access to a range of over 150 courses not available in prison, such as GCSEs, A-levels, and Open University courses, as well as courses in subjects as diverse as Farming Management and Personal Fitness Training. This enables prisoners to work towards employment or development goals for their future or study courses to help overcome personal barriers to rehabilitation (for example Drugs and Alcohol Abuse Counselling or Anger Management courses).

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    140 women in prison are given specialist advice and guidance regarding distance learning


    » Women are given the information they need to consider the courses that might best meet their educational needs.
    » Prison and education staff are given information to pass on to women in their care regarding course choice and progression.
    » At least one prison visit a quarter is undertaken to talk to prospective women learners, hand out advice materials & deal with questions face to face.

    What success will look like

    Women are empowered to make the decision whether to undertake distance learning courses. Prison staff will report greater confidence in supporting learners.

    Aim 2

    140 women in prison are provided with distance learning courses.


    » 140 women are given information about distance learning courses, are supported to apply for a particular course, and are funded to study.

    What success will look like

    140 women will have started studying a distance learning course in a subject or level otherwise unavailable in prison & which meets their individual learning aspirations.

    Aim 3

    To track learning progress made by women and changes to their self-esteem and confidence.


    » We will issue monitoring forms which we will review and analyse. We look at motivations for study, career aspirations, and any concerns or worries.
    » We will review qualitative evidence, such as letters, feedback and comments, and monitor any further learning, volunteering or employment secured.

    What success will look like

    Women will report an increase in self-confidence and will feel able to undertake further learning or other positive activity.

  • Impact


    Women in prison will have improved self-esteem, knowledge, resilience and skills. This will improve their relationships in prison with fellow inmates and staff, as well as their relationships outside prison. Women will use the skills they learn to cope with day-to-day challenges and undertake positive activities in prison, but also to continue learning, establish their own businesses, or secure employment on release. The likelihood of re-offending will be reduced, improving communities for good.


    One risk is over-stretched prison staff unable to support learners, answer basic queries or facilitate PET visits. We will address this with our advice materials and relationship development with key prison staff. Another risk is managing demand and expectations; we will only be able to support as many prisoners as we raise funds for. We will address this by developing our fundraising strategy, managing funds carefully, and using our supplier discounts to maximise the use of funds raised.


    For those donors who would like to receive communications, we will send an update in 12 months’ time, summarising who has been supported, the courses they are studying, and whether they go on to any further learning. Interim updates and case studies will be uploaded on to our website.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £59,500

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £35,280 Courses 140 distance learning courses for women (av. cost £252 per woman).
      £16,800 Advice and guidance Advice and guidance for 140 women (£120 per woman).
      £7,420 Support costs Managing general queries and administration (£52 per woman).

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Brook Trust £18,030 Conditional
    Charles Hayward Foundation £15,000 Conditional
  • Background


    PET works with all of the women’s prisons, and we will work with women wherever they are. Just 9% of women secure employment on release from prison, but we know from our alumni that our support can help women progress towards their career aspirations. Though Ministers have committed to reducing the women’s prison population, women still face challenging prison conditions, long hours locked in cell, and increased rates of suicide and self harm. Education is an essential opportunity.


    This project will benefit:
    - Women in prison who benefit from education opportunities which would otherwise be unavailable to them, and who feel empowered through the advice we provide. Ministry of Justice research shows our provision reduces re-offending so this project will help stop women returning to prison.
    - Prison staff who benefit from engaged students and advice from our expert team.
    - Women’s families who feel proud that their loved ones are doing something positive and constructive.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We were established in 1989 to provide higher level learning opportunities to prisoners who had completed basic literacy and numeracy courses. In that first year we funded 12 courses; since then we have funded 38,000. We have strong relationships with prison and education staff and have well-established, proven processes for reviewing courses, helping prospective students and providing support. We are experts in distance learning provision specifically, but also education in prisons generally.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Suzan Nabbanja

    Suzan is our programme manager and has been at PET for 13 years. Her expertise is second to none and she has strong relationships with prison staff.

    John Lister

    John is our advice manager, and brings a wealth of experience in careers advice. He is able to answer questions about courses and career progression.

    Iva Gray

    Iva is our Advice Officer. She regularly visits HMP Eastwood Park (a women’s prison), and has expertise in providing advice and guidance to women.

    Clare Lloyd

    Clare is our Head of Service Delivery, leads the team in working closely with prisons, and creates innovative partnerships.