Michael Gove announces review of the provision of education within prisons

8 September 2015

The Justice Secretary, Michael Gove has unveiled a review of the provision of education in prisons in England and Wales, which shall be led by Dame Sally Coates, Director of Academies South for United Learning.

The review will investigate methods by which to improve the quality of prison education with the hope of encouraging prisoners to positively engage with learning, whilst exploring the potential for employers to contribute to the curriculum.

Mr Gove outlined his ambition in order to ensure that prisoners are given the opportunity to learn and secure jobs on release:

“We must have the right incentives for prisoners to learn and for prison staff to make sure that education is properly prioritised. I want to see prisoners motivated to engage in their own learning and Governors with the right tools to be more demanding and creative about the education provided in the prisons they run.”

The Coates Review is expected by spring 2016 and will also make preparatory steps towards the Justice Secretary’s plans to introduce “earned release” – linking the length of jail term served with educational attainment.

Mr Gove has previously highlighted his favour for the system, which would encourage prisoners to participate in learning and skills training and potentially lead to a drop in the reoffending rate. In July, he told the Prisoner Learning Alliance:

“I am attracted to the idea of earned release for those offenders who make a commitment to serious educational activity, who show by their changed attitude that they wish to contribute to society and who work hard to acquire proper qualifications, which are externally validated and respected by employers”.

Juliet Lyon, Prison Reform Trust, welcomed the announcement to the BBC, highlighting the chronic lack of qualifications of people in prison:

“Providing people with the knowledge and skills to help them lead a law-abiding life on release should be a central aim of a modern and effective penal system”.