Family learning in prisons toolkit now available

19 October 2018

Family ties have long been acknowledged as important to offender rehabilitation, and Lord Farmer’s 2017 review named families as the ‘golden thread’ running through the new approach to reducing reoffending.

The 2017 review focused attention on the potential of good quality family interventions in making a significant difference to the lives of offenders and their families, the cycle of intergenerational violence, and public safety and spending.

The Farmer Review also recognised family learning as a distinct type of family intervention – including it as part of the local performance agreement in English and Welsh prisons.

For those who work on the frontline it is clear that ‘family learning works’ and Learning and Work Institute’s work on family learning in prisons collated evidence on its benefits.

Learning and Work Institute has worked in partnership with prison providers and stakeholders to create an evaluation toolkit for frontline providers. The aim of the toolkit is to standardise evidence, whilst allowing for flexibility and sensitivity to the range of different provisions and local contexts. The toolkit focusses on demonstrating impact within five broad outcome domains – reoffending, wellbeing, family relationships, wider relationships, and learning and skills.

The toolkit includes:

  • Data collection tools such as quantitative questionnaires, qualitative feedback forms and quantitative measurements.
  • A pre-programmed excel spreadsheet to input data and a dashboard to generate statistical results.
  • A guidance document which takes providers through a step-by-step evaluation.


Susan Easton, head of digital and family learning, said:

“Currently there is a dearth of robust research on the impact of family learning in prisons. Evaluations are often small-scale and in-house, making it difficult to compare or to aggregate evidence.

“The ‘evaluation of family learning in prison’ toolkit will empower providers, practitioners and prison staff to demonstrate the impact of family learning programmes on offenders and their families, and to continuously monitor and make improvements to their programmes. In the long-term, use of these tools will mean that we can compare and combine evidence across programmes to better understand how different approaches to family learning work, and for whom.

“The resource also enables prison governors to  take an evidence based approach to commissioning family learning programmes which meet the needs of their prison population, benefitting prisons, prisoners and their families.”

Visit the L&W website to access the toolkit and videos explaining their use.

For further information about the toolkit for your own programme contact or