Offender Rehabilitation

Learning and Work Institute think all offenders should be given the opportunity, advice and support to effectively develop the skills that mean they are less likely to re-offend upon release.


There are 80,000 people in prison in England and Wales. Around half of adults released from custody reoffend within one year of release, costing up to £13.5 billion each year.

Education and employment can improve prisoners’ chances of making a positive transition to the community. Yet three fifths leave prison without an identified employment, education or training outcome.

Many offenders have significant learning and skills challenges. Nearly one in two lacks functional literacy or numeracy, much higher than the population as a whole. Nearly one third self-identify as having a learning difficulty and/or disability. Yet three quarters of prison education services inspected by Ofsted in 2014/15 were rated as ‘Requiring improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’.


Our Policy Asks

Learning and Work Institute argues that better prison education and focus on learning and employment outcomes in prison and through the gate are essential to reducing reoffending. Many of our recommendations were reflected in the Government-commissioned Coates Review of Prison Education 

We want:

  • PSD_Curriculum_Evaluation_Report_FINAL to be embedded in all programmes.
  • All prisoners to be equipped with the English, maths and digital skills that they will need when released.
  • Offenders in custody to have access to effective information, advice and guidance (IAG)

Click on a policy ask to find out more detail about why we think it and what we've done.

We support the Government’s moves to give Governors greater responsibility for the support offered in prison, including through new Reform Prisons, backed by accountability over reoffending, education and employment outcomes. Similarly, it is important that support is integrated with probation services, run by Community Rehabilitation Companies for low and medium risk offenders, and that these are also outcome-focused on reducing reoffending.

Offenders in custody and coming up for release should have access to effective information, advice and guidance (IAG) to ensure the value of learning and employment are communicated and individualised action plans in place.

All prisoners should be equipped with the English, maths and digital skills that they will need when released. Personal and social development can also help build self-efficacy and confidence and be the first step toward formal learning, and should be a core part of the learning offer. We think these should be embedded in all programmes, including vocational workshops. This could involve peer mentoring schemes and a Citizens’ Curriculum [insert link] offer, an integrated and personalised approach to basic skills delivery.

>Our work

Offenders who maintain family relationships while in custody are 38% less likely to reoffend than those who do not, while, without targeted intervention, there is a high risk that learned patterns of behaviour are likely to be passed on to the next generation. Learning and Work Institute has worked with family learning providers and prisons to produce “Family Learning In Prisons” – a resource for prison governors, staff and educationalists which identifies the types of family learning programmes currently on offer and summarises evidence demonstrating that Family Learning has a positive effect on offenders and their families.

We are developing, piloting and evaluating PSD curriculum for offenders in custody. This has been trialled in partnership with three women’s prisons and we are now rolling it out to the male estate and YOIs.

We continue to develop Maths4Prisons, our successful peer mentoring scheme. As part of this, we are delivering a training programme to embed maths mentoring approaches in vocational areas and service offers in prisons, such as food preparation, employer academies or physical education.

Building on the success of our Citizens’ Curriculum pilots, we are working in partnership with the Bell Foundation and De Montfort University to trial a Citizens’ Curriculum for ESOL learners in custody. This will include the development of an English language screening tool.

We want to strengthen the evidence base on the contribution that learning and employment make to reducing reoffending. We do this by evaluating pilot programmes and highlighting examples of good practice.