Memorandum submitted by the Learning and
Skills Council (LSC)
SECTION ONE: EXECUTIVE
1.1 The LSC has assumed responsibility for
the planning and funding of the Offenders' Learning and Skills
Service (OLASS) across England. The service went live in the three
development regions in August 2005 and in the remaining six English
regions on 31 July 2006.
1.2 The LSC is delivering the service to
offenders in custody and in the community through a network of
22 lead providers.
1.3 The LSC's response to the Select Committee
concentrates upon recommendations made by the Committee which
were particularly focused on activity which is now part of the
1.4 Our response covers the following topics:
A broad curriculum offer
Relevant, learner centred assessment
Entitlement to free Level 2 education
The transfer of Individual Learning
Provision for offenders in the community
Funding for offender learning
1.5 We have also set out our plans for the
future development of OLASS.
SECTION TWO: A
The Learning and Skills Council exists to make
England better skilled and more competitive
2.1 We have a single goal: to improve the
skills of England's young people and adults to ensure we have
a workforce of world-class standard.
2.2 The LSC is responsible for planning
and funding high quality education and training for everyone in
England other than those in universities.
2.3 Our vision is that by 2010, young people
and adults in England have the knowledge and skills matching the
best in the world and are part of a truly competitive workforce.
2.4 We are committed to simplifying the
way we work. To be clear about what is driving us we have four
priorities that will drive our work and investment in 2007-08.
More and better opportunities for
young peopleinvesting around £7 billion to help over
1.3 million 14-19 year olds.
Raising the skills of the nationinvesting
over £3 billion to help over four million adults and many
thousands of employers.
Building a world-class systemincluding
investing £600 million in new buildings.
Investing in economic developmentthrough
all of the above and with our many partners.
SECTION THREE: FACTUAL
Procurement of the Offenders' Learning and Skills
3.1 The LSC initially procured the Offenders'
Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) in three regions, the South
West, North West and North East and those regions commenced delivery
of OLASS on 1 August 2005.
3.2 The LSC has since successfully concluded
the procurement of the integrated Offenders' Learning and Skills
Service in all nine English regions. The new service commenced
in the East of England, London, South East, East Midlands, West
Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber on 31 July 2006. The new
service is supporting offenders through relevant and seamless
learning and skills provision in both custodial and community
3.3 The procurement process was completed
to the agreed, published schedule commencing in December 2004
and ending on 31 July 2006.
3.4 The scope of the specification to deliver
the integrated service was based on principles established in
the "Offender's Learning Journey"
(OLJ) and includes young people from age 15 to 18 years in custody
and over 16 years of age under the supervision of Youth Offending
Teams (YOTs). The adult OLJ covers offenders in custody and in
OLJ for Young Offenders http://www.dfes.gov.uk/offenderslearning/uploads/documents/05%20011_Juvenile_OLJ%20v04.doc
3.5 Following an Invitation to Tender in
the national press the level of interest by organisations to deliver
the Service was very high and expressions of interest were received
from a wide range of potential providers including FE Institutions,
Private Sector Providers, Probation Service Areas and the Voluntary
and Community Sector.
3.6 Tenders were received from a total of
232 organisations and as a result of a robust assessment by the
LSC and its partners in the regions 22 lead providers are currently
delivering OLASS in 37 units/areas of England.
3.7 The new provider base differs by 78%
from the mix of previous contractors. A new emphasis has been
established on the continuation of learning supported by an individual
learning plan, an essential record when prisoners are moved within
the estate or between custodial and community settings.
3.8 A phased approach to the introduction
of the service was used to ensure that lessons learned during
the first year of delivery could be utilised to improve both the
procurement methodology and the specification for the service.
3.9 The models of procurement in all regions
were defined by each Regional OLASS Partnership Board. They determined
how the service should be delivered within their region, eg based
on criminal justice areas or grouped by establishment type. The
Partnership Boards are chaired by the LSC and members include
senior representatives from the Prison Service, Probation Service,
Youth Justice Board, Jobcentre Plus, Connexions and the Regional
Offender Manager (ROM). The role of the Partnership Board is to
oversee the strategic development of the service in a region and
to ensure that the learning and skills needs of offenders are
met, in order to help equip them with the skills they need to
access sustainable employment and which meet the labour market
needs of employers in the region in which they will be resettled.
3.10 Members of each Partnership Board were
closely involved in the assessment of the tenders, along with
Heads of Learning and Skills (HoLS) in the prisons, National Probation
Service, Specialist personnel from LSC contributed in an advisory
3.11 The models of procurement are described
in Annex A.
3.12 An OGC Gateway Review of the procurement
process concluded that:
"The OLASS 2 procurement phase has proceeded
in a well organised and tightly managed fashion. Stakeholder management
has represented a major challenge in unifying organisations with
different backgrounds and cultures. We were impressed by the fully
inclusive approach taken to all aspects of the procurement exercise,
particularly the final evaluation and selection process. The latter
has resulted in clear, collective ownership of the decisions made
and this represents a strong contribution to the foundations necessary
for success in the longer term".
3.13 The integrated Offenders' Learning
and Skills Service procured by the LSC is now moving to fulfil
the aim of the introduction of OLASS, by ensuring that:
offenders, in prisons and supervised
in the community, according to need, have access to learning and
skills, both in prisons and the community, which enables them
to gain the skills and qualifications they need to hold down a
job and have a positive role in society; and
the content and quality of learning
programmes and qualifications for offenders in custody and in
the community is the same as comparable provision elsewhere.
3.14 These aims are being achieved by an
expansion of the learning curriculum beyond that of basic skills
(Skills for Life) to skills development and learning that will
help offenders access the employment market. The LSC and its OLASS
providers are offering:
much improved assessment and learning
planned within the context of sentence plans, (driven by and through
our partnership approach) and an early, intense focus on initial
and diagnostic assessment of learning needs; and
an Individual Learning Plan (ILP),
linked to the sentence plan and the Offender Assessment System
(OASys), with detailed goals and a record of progress in all learning
and skills activities.
SECTION FOUR: EDUCATION
4.1 The LSC has not responded to all the
recommendations of the Select Committee. Recommendations which
were made for the attention of other organisations have been omitted
from the LSC's response.
1. Education should be understood
in broader terms than just improving the employability of the
prisoner. Employability skills should not be emphasised to such
an extent that the wider benefits of learning are excluded.
4.2 The contractual arrangements put into
place by the LSC oblige our contractors to make a broad curriculum
offer as set out in the Offender's Learning Journey (OLJ) for
adults or young offenders as appropriate to the establishment
concerned. The curriculum offer is focused upon their individual
needs and is agreed in their individual learning plan.
4.3 The learning and skills offer to offenders
under OLASS offers a broad range of skills development opportunities
combined with "softer" outcomes, eg social and personal
2. The Government should commission
research to demonstrate the impact of education on rates of re-offending
3. Current concentration on basic
skills is based on little more than a "hunch"; and Government
should research to identify what type of education and training
provision will have the greatest impact on prisoner learning needs.
4.4 In addition to any Government commissioned
research, the LSC's National Learner Survey will commence in February
2007 for all offender learning in custody. This will commence
with a sample from each type of prison, including young offenders,
to inform a national survey in line with that undertaken in the
mainstream. This will allow the LSC to ascertain offender learners'
view of provision on offer in custody and enable us to make changes
to provision where that is appropriate.
4.5 The LSC has also commissioned the Adult
Learning Inspectorate (ALI) to conduct a review of the new learning
and skills contracting arrangements in the 3 development regions
(North East, North West and South West).
4.6 The aims of this review are to:
Review the training provider learning
and skills contract arrangements for the three development regions
of the North East, North West and South West. This will include
custodial establishments and probation areas for those offenders
either transferred to community on temporary release or serving
a community sentence.
Evaluate inter and intra agency working
arrangements and the impact of the Regional Offender Management
commissioning arrangements for learning and skills.
Review the impacts of the interventions
agreed within the OLASS project board for the delivery of the
learning and skills provision.
4.7 The LSC has also commissioned research
focused on evaluation of the issues which influence the effective
engagement of female offenders with learning and skills provision.
This research found that:
There are distinct issues which specifically
affect the engagement of female offenders.
This has implications for the characteristics,
style, content and targets for provision.
4.8 Key messages include the need to take
4.9 And the role of:
4.10 The research was published in Summer
2006 and can be found at http://www.lsneducation.org.uk/user/login.aspx?code=062622&P=062622PD&action=pdfdl&src=XOWEB
7. The Government and the media
should communicate the importance of prison education to the general
public. (Paragraph 77)
4.11 The LSC continues to recognise offenders
as a priority for 2007 and the publication of our Annual Statement
sends an important message to our partners about the need to focus
on meeting the needs of this particularly disadvantaged group
4.12 There has been active communication
with partners working with people in the criminal justice system
throughout the developments of the OLASS service; nationally this
has been through the National Project Board and regionally through
OLASS Partnership Boards.
4.13 The LSC has specific young offender
Youth Justice Board (YJB) funded posts to ensure the profile of
this age group was not "lost" in the developing National
Offender Management Service (NOMS) regional agenda. These posts
have been actively engaged in regional OLASS developments working
in a range of ways with the YJB nationally, YJB regional managers,
Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) and Connexions.
4.14 Engagement has not been standardised and
each region has shaped engagement with partners in line with the
OLASS regional board requirements to best meet regional needs;
some regions have separate under 18 focused groups and others
incorporate this age group into their overall OLASS meeting structures.
8. There needs to be much more flexibility.
Learning needs to be relevant, learner-centred, and key skills
should be embedded in employment-focused training. (Paragraph
4.15 The implementation of OLASS was a major
step to achieving this recommendation. After a period of testing
in three development regions the service went live throughout
the whole of England from 31 July 2006. The explicit intention
is for a relevant, learner-centred service that delivers outcomes
set out in an Individual Learning Plan (ILP).
9. A learner-centred programme of
assessment should be introduced to identify learning needs, including
special education needs for all new prisoners. This should be
delivered through an Individual Learning Plan, and should be embedded
in their overall Sentence Plan. (Paragraph 82)
4.16 The LSC published its national strategy
for funded provision for learners with learning difficulties,
"Learning for Living and Work"
in October 2006. In collaboration with other agencies the LSC
will work to ensure that people with learning difficulties and/or
disabilities have access to learning that is equal to that experienced
by their peers without learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
This applies fully to offender learners.
4.17 Through OLASS, the LSC intends to secure
better assessment and planning to meet individual learners' needs.
IAG is an important element of the offender's learning journey
and will help to ensure that appropriate learning plans are linked
to sentence plans and are agreed for all learners. Those plans
will be strongly focused on the skills needed by offenders to
help them secure employment upon release.
4.18 In the past, education and training
has too often been a fragmented experience for many offenders
as they move between prisons or re-enter the community. The new
integrated service is designed to address this by providing prisoners
with personalised learning plans that travel with them, and in
this way we can assist more offenders to achieve the skills they
need to gain employment.
4.19 The increased involvement of offender
management staff in supporting the offender through their learning
journey is something which will be encouraged through the OLASS
process. The involvement of those staff in supporting and encouraging
learning can be very motivating for offenders and we need to build
on that opportunity. If we can increase someone's learning and
development and therefore employability, we present them with
a potential alternative to crime and reduce the likelihood of
10. The current assessment of a
prisoner's education level is totally inadequate at present should
be completely overhauled. (Paragraph 93);
46. Much more needs to be done to
improve motivational factors that encourage prisoners to learn
(see section). Providing a wide range of high quality education
programmes would help to motivate prisoners. (Paragraph 271)
4.20 OLASS requires an early, intense focus
on initial and diagnostic assessment of learning needs as well
as good quality information, advice and guidance and an induction
programme. Each learner will have an ILP, linked to the sentence
plan and OASys, or its successor system, with detailed goals and
a record of progress in learning and skills activities. As the
OLASS ILP Data Project rolls out (see 16/17 below), the ILP will
be centrally held and accessed by the provider, offender manager
and the offender as they move through the system and into the
4.21 These are key developments in assessment
practice: the delivery of the Offender's Learning Journey is a
contractual requirement for providers.
11. Every prison should have a special
educational needs coordinator specifically to support the special
educational needs of prisoners, as are in place in Young Offender
Institutions. (Paragraph 99);
12. Learning Support Assistants
should be provided in adult prisons. (Paragraph 102)
4.22 There is a large proportion of adult
offenders that would benefit from the LSC's effective and well
researched approach to providing Additional Learning Support (ALS)
which includes the use of Learning Support Assistants (LSAs),
Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) and other specialist
support, for example for those learners with dyslexia. There is
widespread recognition that this will be costly and, in order
for this to be implemented, the LSC's proposals for reforming
the curriculum offer, and a resulting "freeing up" of
resources on provision that is deemed to be of a "lesser
priority" needs to take place.
13. Investment in young offenders
should be brought up to meet the level of additional investment
that the Youth Justice Board has delivered to the juvenile estate.
4.23 Whilst the LSC would welcome additional
funds to invest in this area we recognise that the funding levels
available for under 18 provision reflects the legal status of
4.24 The LSC shares the Committee's aspiration
but we would be unable to offer an entitlement to offenders which
is not available in the mainstream.
4.25 We will, however, work with partners
and the DfES to increase investment in offender learning and skills
in line with our statement of priorities.
15. Entitlement to free Level 2 education
for all adults should be applied equally to the prison population.
4.26 The entitlement to free Level 2 education
is applied to the prison population under OLASS.
4.27 Young people, including younger offenders,
already have this entitlement under the LSC's 14-19 offer.
16. The current implementation of
Individual Learning Plans is haphazard, and it should be a priority
to introduce a new system. (Paragraph 117)
17. "The transfer of records
across prisons is a disgrace." There should be an urgent
delivery of an electronic system for the transfer of records.
4.28 The system of preparing and implementing
ILPs is specified in the OLJ which is a contractual requirement
for LSC lead providers.
4.29 The ability for lead OLASS providers
to create consistent ILPs and to have the technical capability
to access all such relevant learning and learner data for both
the LSC and across the offender estate is critical to the success
of the integrated OLASS, to avoid duplication of assessment and
to ensure accuracy of information and continuity of learning.
4.30 The three development regions are currently
using an interim, electronic ILP system, developed by Tribal as
part of its "Maytas" software package. This system enables
the information on offender learners collected by the LSC lead
providers to be transferable across and between the prisons and
probation areas within those three regions.
4.31 The Maytas system was always planned
as an interim solution pending the development of a national system.
The national system will need to cover not only all learners in
the criminal justice system serving their sentence (or on remand)
in the prisons and probation areas in the nine English regions,
but also young people subject to supervision via the youth offending
service, the contracted out prisons (COPs) and including establishments
4.32 It was clear in May 2006 that, despite
our best efforts, the complexities of designing such a system,
compatible with the developing National Offender Management system
(C-NOMIS), would delay the rollout and implementation of a national
OLASS ILP data service.
4.33 The LSC realised that providers in
the 6 new development regions would need to have a temporary mechanism
available to them to develop their ILPs, and, importantly, to
have some functionality that enabled transfer of data to the LSC
and within the offender learning estate. This needed to be in
place by 31 July 2006 in time for the service to go live.
4.34 The LSC national office team, in conjunction
with NOMS and the DfES have, therefore, developed such a temporary
solution. This takes the form of a "core" ILP or Learning
Summary Record derived from the best examples currently in use.
This has been made available via an electronic template capable
of being transferred via secure email within the criminal justice
4.35 It was developed in consultation with
an advisory group of HOLS, OLASS Providers, representatives from
the Probation Service and the YJB and OLASS LSC regional leads
and circulated to OLASS LSC regional leads with guidance notes
on 31 July 2006 for distribution to the new OLASS providers in
the six regions.
4.36 A key criterion for developing this
temporary template was that it should be based on the same core
ILP being used to develop the new, national system. This should,
therefore, make subsequent transfer of data to the new national
system, when implemented, more straightforward.
4.37 In the meantime the LSC has commissioned
its own preferred IT solutions provider, Xansa, to undertake the
necessary work to procure, on our behalf, the national system
(the OLASS ILP Data Project).
4.38 The OLASS ILP data project team is
currently working in partnership with NOMS, Probation Service,
HMPS and the YJB to understand fully the technical options available
for the system and to recommend an approach that will best suit
the offender operational environment.
4.39 The Request for Proposal (RFP) is scheduled
to go out to suppliers by the end of January 2007, contract award
April 2007 and the start of a limited trial in August 2007.
4.40 The key principles for the system are:
Central data storethe data
entered into the ILP system will be held in a central database,
rather than the data being "transferred" across the
criminal justice estate. The database will be interrogated every
time a record is retrieved for the offender.
A flexible approachto allow
users to utilise areas of the system in a way which meets their
Easy to useto encourage uptake
with a minimum of problems.
Single point of entryas a
general principle, the aim is to capture data once, at source
and make it available electronically to other relevant systems
without a need for re-keying.
4.41 Processes are also being developed
to ensure that the business change requirements, the support and
the training required for the new system will be in place. We
have established a Business Advisory Group to look at the business
change requirements for the new national system.
OGC Gateway Review
4.42 The OGC Gateway Review 1Business
Justification was carried out on the Data Management Project for
Individual learning Plans from 14-16 November 2006. A summary
of this report is at Annex B.
4.43 The young offender estate has had an
agreement to transfer ILPs between establishments, through a named
contact, and out to YOTs since 2004.
Self reporting indicates that there has been
a decrease in assessing young people on entry to the establishments
2003-04 100% of young people entering custody
were assessed on entry
2004-05 88% were assessed
2005-06 78% were assessed
4.44 A pilot for supporting timely transfer
of data for young people in English prisons returning to Wales
is being trialled jointly with Welsh Assembly Government (WAG),
Careers Wales, LSC, HMPS and YJB.
4.45 The YJB eASSET developments propose
that the learner's ILP will be attached to the system, thereby
giving instant access to records of learning and preventing all
duplication. This would link with the LSC ILP (OLD).
18. Education provision should be
flexible enough to adapt to the different types of prisons and
prisoners. (Paragraph 132)
4.46 The LSC plans, overtime to make changes
to the provision which reflect the type of prison and the profile
offender (see recommendations section five).
19. If the purpose of providing
education and training in prisons is to reduce re-offending by
enabling prisoners to gain secure employment, then the continuation
of support and programmes on release is essential. (Paragraph
4.47 OLASS addresses this issue. The service
is designed to meet the learning and skills needs of offenders
wherever they are in the criminal justice system, i.e. either
serving a custodial sentence or serving their sentence in the
community, and to ensure those needs continue to be met as they
pass through transition points. The LSC lead providers in custody
are charged with liaising with providers in the community. The
LSC has secured an additional £30 million European Social
Fund (ESF) and £13.9 million EQUAL funds to support this
work. EQUAL an ESF programme which is focused on innovation. The
offenders programme which is planned to provide resources for
employer engagement work with offenders will run from December
2006 to December 2007.
21 and 22. The Learning and Skills
Council has not included prison education in its statement of
priorities. Prison education must not simply be "bolted-on"
to the LSC. The Government must take responsibility for making
prison education a priority for the LSC. (Paragraph 142 and 145)
4.48 This statement was incorrect. In our
Annual Statement of Priorities published in December 2004 we said
that, "we will complete the successful transfer of responsibilities
from DfES to the LSC, including learner support, basic skills
and offender learning".
4.49 The LSC's Annual Statement of Priorities
for 2007the first full year in which it is responsible
for planning and funding offender learningstates:
4.50 We continue to build on the successful
roll-out of OLASS. Offenders often have limited skills or qualifications
and are often among the most socially deprived: qualifications
that are relevant to employment are their key to social mobility
and this will be the focus of our delivery. Within this we will:
improve the quality and content of
learning and ensure that it is geared to maximising individual's
chances of gaining sustainable employment when they re-enter the
increase the numbers reaching Level
2 and continue to address the huge literacy and numeracy need
through Skills for Life qualifications;
further develop our cross-departmental
and cross-agency working to support transition from custody to
enhance the service by increasing
the appropriate use of the LSC's mainstream budgets and by levering
in other sources of available funding.
4.51 Offenders are specified as a priority
group of learners and young people 14-19 are the highest priority
group of learners.
23. Recent reforms to contracts
have created such uncertain working conditions, leading to many
experienced and highly qualified teachers leaving prison education
because of this. (Paragraph 149)
4.52 The integrated service offers through
the new delivery arrangement a move to joining up "education"
and "vocational training". The transfer of vocational
instructors previously employed by the Prison Service to the appointed
lead providers through TUPE transfer allows for increased professional
development of individuals involved in the vocational element
of the offer to offenders in establishments. A total of 204 vocational
officers transferred to OLASS providers in the introduction of
4.53 Additionally successful transfers of
over 4,300 staff from previous contractors were completed to schedule.
4.54 LSC took national responsibility for
education and training for offenders; vocational and education
provision, on 1 August 2006 under OLASS. The OLASS provision in
YOIs, that is all HM Prison Service under 18 provision, transferred,
under a partnership agreement with the YJB, to the LSC.
4.55 PE and some prison specific training
remained with the prison service, for example, some radio stations,
horticulture, industrial cleaning and catering provision.
4.56 As would be expected in any change
some loss of staff from educational provision and vocational training
provision has taken place. OLASS lead providers have recruited
and continue to do so as necessary. The LSC's contract with its
providers ensures that staff are offered continuous professional
development activities to ensure that their skills and knowledge
remain up to date.
25. The funding methodology for
prison education must be fit for purpose and be flexible. (Paragraph
26. Prisons should have access to
all of the funding streams available to mainstream Colleges. In
particular the Additional Learner Support funding approach should
be applied to prison education. (Paragraph 164);
27. The Government should undertake
a fundamental review to come to conclusions on what it wants to
achieve through prison education and funds education provision
at a level sufficient to meet this chosen outcome. (Paragraph
4.57 The LSC has commissioned the Learning
and Skills Network (LSN)
to advise how prison education can be more effectively organised,
planned and funded. These proposals are now being worked through
and form a major part of the LSC's proposed consultation on developing
the service (see recommendations in section 5).
4.58 The differences in environment between
learning and skills in custody and mainstream learning are substantial,
and that makes it unlikely that a mainstream funding methodology
can simply be replicated for offenders as a whole across both
settings. However, the intention is to develop a funding arrangement
that mirrors as closely as possible that in the mainstream whilst
recognising differences, and inherent practical and logistical
difficulties, caused by issues such as accommodation provision,
free learner movement and security constraints (see recommendations
in section 5).
28. The appointment of Heads of
Learning and Skills is a welcome progression but, in many cases,
they have not been able to fulfil their intended role. (Paragraph
4.59 The LSC, at regional and national level,
values the role of the Heads of Learning and Skills and regular
regional meetings take place to develop relationships. The role
of the HoLS is likely to change as a result of the LSC and ROM
co-commissioning arrangement, but the LSC believes that they have
an important ongoing role in the new arrangements.
30. The Government must ensure that
the specialist role of teaching staff in prisons is properly recognised
and rewarded. At present there is no specific funding identified
for this purpose. The Government should properly identify, fund,
and drive this process forward. (Paragraph 178)
4.60 A vital element of continuous improvement
is the competence and capacity of the staff who will deliver the
Service and as assurance that their skills will be developed and
maintained. Also, the development and maintenance of the capacity
of sub-contractors (if appropriate) and their staff competence
to ensure the quality of sub-contracted provision meets the quality
requirements of the Council.
4.61 Lead providers are required to develop
a strategy for Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) to ensure
that the learning delivered to offenders meets the requirements
of the common inspection framework and agreed success measures.
4.62 Lead providers will produce an annual
self-assessment report to feed into the overall Self Assessment
Report (SAR), including an action plan and identified shortcomings
covering both custody and community provision as prescribed in
the Offender's Learning Journey.
31. It is extremely important to
find a way to measure education, training or employment outcomes
for prisoners soon after release, and the Prison Service or National
Offender Management Service should make this a priority. (Paragraph
4.63 The Qualifications and Credit Framework
(QCF), currently being developed by the Qualifications and Curriculum
Authority (QCA), LSC and Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA)
will be a more flexible and responsive system to support incremental
learning and achievement. It is anticipated that the QCF will
be introduced from August 2007, and over a period of time will
replace the National Qualifications Framework. The QCF will be
a more flexible and responsive system. It will be capable of recognising
all types of achievement by all types of learners using credit
as well as qualifications and supporting small steps of learning.
Currently, there are a series of test and trials of the QCF underway
and these include offenders.
33. Current provision of prison
education is unacceptable. In 2004, still less than a third of
prisoners had access to prison education at any one time. There
needs to be a fundamental shift in approach to prison education
and a step change in the level of high quality provision that
is suited to meet the needs of individual prisoners to provide
them with a real alternative to crime on release. (Paragraph 214)
34. The quality of existing education
provision remains a major concern. 60% of provision inspected
by the ALI was inadequate. There must be rapid progress towards
meeting external standards of provision of education and training
in prisons. (Paragraph 224)
4.64 The ALI Provider Development Unit's
work with 39 failing prisons is reaping benefits. So far, 22 of
the supported prisons have been subject to re-inspection. On average,
prisons have improved their leadership and management grade by
1.375, on a five point scale, a considerable improvement on the
"nearly one" grade average improvement reported in our
4.65 Since April 2006, the new QIA has begun
to deliver its remit to improve quality across post-16 learning.
An amount of £824,000 has been ring-fenced specifically for
the purpose of quality improvement in the offender learning and
4.66 OLASS will, for the first time, cover
learning and skills provision for offenders who are in custody
and those serving sentences in the community. Under previous arrangements,
an offender may have commenced learning in one prison and upon
being moved to another location, either in custody or in the community,
found that they were unable to complete their learning aim. The
OLASS reforms will provide a framework within which to raise and
refocus standards in learning and skills for offenders. We expect
these reforms to drive significant improvement in quality and
4.67 The vision is to provide offenders
with a broad curriculum offer from which their individual learning
plans will be drawn. We also want to improve the quality and quantity
of provision that offenders receive, so that it is at least as
good as the learning and skills offer in the mainstream. We will
be making changes to the curriculum so that we can capitalise
on learning opportunities available during their sentence either
in custody or in the communityunpaid work, for exampleand
provide up-to-date and relevant learning which will be of value
to the offender in the area in which they will be resettled. Early
inspection results (post OLASS) show distinct areas of improvement.
4.68 The LSC is particularly pleased to
see signs of improvement in the three OLASS development regions
where inspections have taken place. The LSC is determined to continue
to pursue improvements in prison education and our focus on the
improvement of the quality of the provision will be sustained.
35. Lack of access to the internet
is a significant barrier to learning. Access to the Internet clearly
must be controlled and properly supervised, but the Government
must prioritise progress in this area. (Paragraph 229)
4.69 The LSC is currently funding a £2
million programme to support e-learning for offender learning
and skills which is being managed by the National Institute of
Adult Continuing Education (NIACE). The programme has three main
A programme of staff development
based on the successful e-guides model which has been used in
Adult and Community Learning for middle and senior managers. This
is being adapted to the needs of staff in the secure environment.
Project funds to support the development
of e-learning, part of these funds are being used to support the
POLARIS Project in London. Forty nine projects have been approved.
The projects are exploring a range of issues including secure
Internet access, the development of materials and the integration
of e-learning into OLASS provision to support literacy, ESOL,
dyslexia and a range of vocational subjects.
Evaluation and the identification
and transfer of good practice.
4.70 The programme is also making available,
on CD Roms, a range of highly interactive learning objects in
the form of the National Learning Network (NLN) Materials which
have been developed as part of the LSC Post-16 e-learning Programme.
The topics include basic skills, vocational and academic subjects
up to Level 3 to support delivery of courses.
4.71 The LSC is supporting the UFI/Learndirect
pathways work in prisons until July 2007 when we will expect UFI
to delivery in custody as part of their mainstream offer.
36. An over-emphasis on basic skills
driven by Key Performance Targets has narrowed the curriculum
too far. Greater flexibility of provision is required to meet
the much wider range of educational needs that exists within the
prison system. (Paragraph 237)
4.72 The Offender's Learning Journey sets
out a new requirement for the service to be delivered to offenders
in custody and in the community. A curriculum that goes far wider
than simple delivery of Skills for Life is central to the Offender's
Learning Journey. However, significant and substantial basic literacy
and numeracy needs are present in the offender population which
must be addressed. Learners cannot benefit from broader or higher
study, nor to engage in most work-related learning that will lead
to employability on release without those basic needs being met
37. Government should give further
consideration to how basic skills might be embedded in more practical
learning experiences right across the prison estate. (Paragraph
38. The separate nature of education,
vocational training, and work in prisons cannot continue and there
must be better links. (Paragraph 242)
4.73 Integration of education and vocational
training and embedding of basic skills was one of the main drivers
for establishing the new integrated learning and skills delivery
arrangements under the LSC.
4.74 The LSC, DfES and the QIA are promoting
programmes of embedded learning. The transfer of workshop activity
allows us to expand this work under OLASS. LSC providers have
increasing experience of delivering Skills for Life in work settings.
We will utilise this in prison education. The NfER evaluation
of our work in the three development regions provides evidence
of the real value of embedded basic skills in offender education.
39. Vocational training that does
not offer the skills needed in today's job market should not continue.
A broader variety of vocational opportunities as well as work
opportunities need to be offered that prepare prisoners for employment.
4.75 The Offender's Learning Journey introduces
significant change to the focus on, and variety of, work related
learning. The Green Paper contains proposals to reinforce that
focus still further, particularly through the engagement of employers
in designing and developing vocational learning that more effectively
meets their specific labour market needs and possibly through
the Campus Model.
4.76 We are working with major employers,
Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and others to improve skills training
in this country. We are driven by the needs of employers in both
the public and the private sector.
4.77 We respond to priorities raised by
sectors as part of their sector agreements. There are four of
these in place at present working as "pathfinders".
They are with the media, manufacturing, IT and construction sectors.
4.78 The LSC has successfully bid for (£13.9
million) EQUAL Funds to support the following activities during
2007 which will ensure that work to improve the skills and employability
of offenders is promoted within mainstream strategies and planning
developments for employers.
Motivate and engage offenders in
high quality programmes of learning to allow them to gain qualifications
in employment sectors in employment where there is local demand.
Increase the number of offenders
accessing further training upon release and continuing their skills
development in employment.
Support offenders seeking self employment
to achieve this goal.
Develop an alliance to reduce re-offending
by working with, and supporting, employers and employment networks
encouraging employers to draw on offenders and ex offenders as
a valuable supply of labour and skills.
Enhance the development of softer
skills, such as communication, team work and problem solving,
needed in the workplace.
Develop an incentive system to support
offenders in the workplace and help them maintain sustainable
To develop a strategic approach to
engaging with employers nationally and within the English regions.
Strengthen approaches and management
of to offender learning and skill enhancement to meet the skills
needs for employers in the regions.
Increase awareness and opportunities
for sustainable employment offenders who may be further disadvantaged
in the labour market by learning difficulties or disability.
To increase access to employment
opportunities for individual's in under represented occupations.
40. We fully support the excellent
work of the Young Offender Programme, led by National Grid Transco,
and recommend that the Government should take steps to enable
and encourage many more of these partnership arrangements with
employers. (Paragraph 248);
41. and 42. As with the Young Offender
Programme, led by National Grid Transco, the Committee would like
to see more identification of skills shortages within areas local
to the prison, and partnerships developed with businesses to meet
these skill shortages. Working with employers has to be the future
of vocational education provision and this has to be driven and
funded by the Government. (Paragraphs 249 and 251)
45. The Government should encourage
a great deal more entrepreneurial activity within prisons in terms
of business enterprises, Further Education Colleges, Universities,
and employers. (Paragraph 267)
4.79 The work undertaken by the LSC's providers
in offender learning provides a strong link to the FE sector as
recommended by the Select Committee. The LSC is the major funder
of further education and as such is able to bring substantial
leverage into the system. Their identification of offenders as
a priority group, combined with this leverage means the potential
benefits to offender learners are significant. The LSC also brings
its expertise in terms of the skills agenda into play. It offers
links to employers at national, regional and local levels to enable
learning plans to be undertaken which meet both the needs of employers
and that of the individual learner.
4.80 Train to Gain will also offer substantial
opportunities for offenders to gain and sustain employment on
48. The Government should look at
significantly increasing the role of mentoring in prison education.
4.81 The LSC's strategy for work with the
Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) identifies three key roles
for the sector:
as providers of learning and skills
as a source of expertise and advice;
4.82 The LSC has arrangements in place with
some VCS providers to enable their work to continue and to work
with them to align their offer to the broader needs of offenders.
4.83 The LSC's strategy for engaging the
VCS is in line with the work NOMS and the Faith and Community
Sector Alliance(s) in particular.
4.84 The EQUAL funding will be used to provide
mentoring services to offenders in custody and in the community.
Regions have OLASS strategies for
engaging with the VCS.
Nationally for young people the LSC
are partners in the EQUAL funded Rainer "RESET" pilot
working in YOIs and the YJB/LSC funded RathboneOLASS "Through
the Gate" pilot.
DfES have provided £3 million
annually of ETE Community Engagement Funding through the YJB to
promote engagement by providing mentoring support and guidance.
The LSC commissions this provision through Youth Offending Teams.
SECTION FIVE: FUTURE
5.1 Having assumed responsibility for the
planning and funding of the Offenders' Learning and Skills Service
across England, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is now leading
the strategic development of the reform of the Service. We plan
to conduct a formal consultation on the broad proposals in Spring
2007. Further detailed, technical proposals will be developed
from this point, leading to a better planned, more coherent, effective
and efficient service across the prison estate.
5.2 Alongside this, new funding methodologies
are being developed to better reflect the nature of offender learning,
and a key outcome of this work will be to ensure that funding
is distributed more appropriately, with priority being given to
those groups of learners for whom learning and skills will be
of most benefit, for example, in assisting them to secure and
sustain employment upon release.
5.3 In successfully assuming responsibility
for planning and funding offender learning, the LSC is utilising
its experience and strength in commissioning provision based upon
identified need and agreed priorities. In passing responsibility
to the LSC, Her Majesty's Prison Service (HMPS) required the LSC
to maintain existing volumes of provision at an establishment
level. This was to maintain a level of stability so as not to
affect the "purposeful activity" regime in prisons.
While it is important to at least maintain inherited volumes,
it is the LSC's view that in a number of instances too much reliance
has been placed upon education provision as a means of occupying
prisoners rather than equipping individuals with the necessary
skills and qualifications required to secure and sustain meaningful
employment upon release.
5.4 The LSC has therefore been careful to
purchase the same volumes of provision, but it has also expected
its new providers to deliver against a much more demanding specification.
In addition, LSC providers have received large numbers of former
prison service vocational training instructional staff and former
education contractor staff under TUPE legislationmany of
whom were in receipt of better benefits packages than the LSC's
appointed provider's staff. The LSC has had to manage all these
requirements within the same annual budget. The previous service
was described as "unacceptable" by the Committee and
this highlights the scale of the challenges ahead.
5.5 The LSC presented its proposals for
Developing the Offenders' Learning and Skills Service on
9 November 2006 to the joint OLASS National Project Board and
Education, Training and Employment/Finance, Benefit and Debt Sub
Board. These proposals, in principle, have been wholeheartedly
supported by all stakeholders. Some of the key recommendations
ensure the focus of education in
prisons is not simply about maintaining an acceptable level of
"purposeful activity" (keeping prisoners busy) during
the prison day;
offer a service aimed at equipping
prisoners with the relevant and appropriate skills and qualifications
they require to secure and sustain employment upon release;
review the curriculum offer and the
way in which prison education is currently organised, planned
and funded, leading towards the introduction of a "core offer"
across all establishments, thus enabling a "seamless transition"
and enabling continuity in learning for many prisoners when they
move around the prison estate;
deliver a differentiated learning
offer according to a number of factors, including sensitivity
to the different groups of offenders, sentence length and establishment
type. For example, prisons with a very high turnover and throughput
of prisoners ought not to focus upon the delivery of potentially
lengthy qualifications and workshop based provision, rather that
the limited time should be devoted toward initial assessment,
diagnostics and screening, and potentially some "engagement"
provision before being referred on to other establishments; and
target the limited resources for
prison learning and skills according to agreed priorities:
(i) A Key Priority Group being prisoners
for whom learning and skills can have the most effective impact,
for example, by targeting those that are close to release, by
equipping them with the necessary skills and qualifications required
to secure and sustain meaningful employment upon release. A large
proportion of this provision ought to contribute (directly and
indirectly) towards the Government's Public Service Agreement
(PSA) targets for Skills for Life (equipping individuals with
the basic skills they require to perform an active role in society)
and the acquisition of first Full Level 2 qualifications. All
the qualifications offered should be relevant and driven by the
needs of the labour market, be up-to-date and meet industry standards,
ie have national accreditation.
(ii) "Engagement provision":
less formal, non-accredited but motivating and confidence building
"taster" provision to be made available to attract prisoners
into learning, as many have had negative educational experiences
in the past or left education early.
(iii) Regional Learning Support: ensure
an appropriate proportion of the budget for prison education is
identified to enable support to be provided to individuals over
and above that which they would normally receive. Given the high
educational support needs of this group, this is essential. The
Youth Justice Board's (YJB) approach to making "enhanced"
funding available to the LSC for the provision of Learning Support
Assistants and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators is to be
commended but we believe that a similar support facility should
be available for adult offenders.
(iv) Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG):
proper IAG interventions are fundamental to the success and continuation
of the Offender's Learning Journey.
(v) Higher-level (above Level 2) learning
and/or "personal" learning: although the majority
of offender learning and skills activity will focus on Skills
for Life and vocational learning at or below Level 2, the wider
offer recognises that this "deficit" model of learning
and skills will be inappropriate for some offenders.
(vi) Higher-level learning (ie at Levels 3 and
4) and learning for personal interest will be supported as appropriate
and as funds allow.
1 OLJ for Adults http://www.dfes.gov.uk/offenderlearning/uploads/documents/adult_OLJ_V0.5a.doc Back