New prison learning pilot to cut re-offending

9 February 2016

A new approach to learning in prisons aims to reduce reoffending according to a new project between Learning and Work Institute and De Montfort University. 

One in two prisoners have no qualifications at all, holding back their chances of finding a job when released. The Language for Change project will pilot a new approach which integrates English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learning with the maths, financial, health, digital and civic capabilities. This will help prisoners build skills they need for work and, ultimately, reduce reoffending.

Learning and Work Institute have already piloted the Citizens’ Curriculum with a number of learning providers across England and now plan to test its impact in prisons, through research carried out in partnership with De Montfort University. 

David Hughes, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute, said Learning and Work’s thinking complements current policy around prison reform:

“The prison reform agenda requires new approaches to learning which we know can boost rehabilitation of offenders.  The Prime Minister said that learning was central to prison reforms. I agree and our Language for Change project is a great example of how new ideas can achieve real change.

“The Citizens’ Curriculum is a tried and tested model that works because it recognises that one type of learning rarely solves the issues; our approach is about ensuring prisoners get the skills they want and need for life and work.”

The project is being funded by The Bell Foundation as part of its three year Language for Change Programme, which partners with organisations who work with ex-offenders and prisoners with English as a second language. Diana Sutton, Director at The Bell Foundation, said:

“We are delighted to be working with the Learning and Work Institute on this unique project which combines the identification of language needs with a bespoke curriculum. We welcome yesterday’s announcement as the beginning of an important journey on improving outcomes and life chance for people in prison.”

Anyone wanting to know more can contact Alex Stevenson, Head of Maths, English and ESOL,


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