Memorandum submitted by A4e (Action for
1. The funding and delivery of Offender
Education is unnecessarily fragmented and inefficient because
of the number of different programs and provider organisations.
To move closer to a seamless and more efficient delivery model
for Offender Education all contracts should be unified under the
Learning and Skill Council's National OLASS contracts.
2. A4e (Action for Employment) delivers
the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) in two of the
three Development Regions (North West and South WestContract
start date 1 August 2005) as well as delivering OLASS in two of
the second round regions (East of England and South EastContract
start date 31 July 2006). As such A4e directly delivers education
to offenders in 33 prisons across England.
3. Although A4e does not have a long history
of delivery of Offender Education in a custodial setting, as an
organisation, we have an exceptional pedigree of providing a range
of services to the disadvantaged on behalf of the Government;
for example as the largest provider of Jobcentre Plus New Deal
programmes, annually we support more than 60,000 people in their
return to work and as part of the financial inclusion agenda,
we have supported over 100,000 people to convert to electronic
payment of benefits across the United Kingdom through our Direct
4. Offender Education has received a higher
profile, as illustrated by the rollout of OLASS and the release
of the Department of Education and Skills (DfES) Green paper Reducing
Re-Offending through Skills and Employment (December 2005).
OLASS, and significantly, the transfer of responsibility for Education
in Prisons from the DfES to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC)
has gone a long way to providing a more uniform standard of education
delivery across the Prison estate.
5. OLASS was intended to be a seamless service
that would provide offenders with an education service which would
follow them throughout their sentence; education delivery would
continue regardless of whether an Offender was transferred around
the Prison estate or transferred from Prison into the Community.
For such a service to be successfully realised a number of conditions
would have to be present: OLASS would need to be the key delivery
service for Offender Education and the service would need to be
uniformly delivered in all Criminal Justice Areas in both Prisons
and Probation settings. It is A4e's contention that these conditions
do not exist. Education services delivered to offenders are fragmented,
and although OLASS is the main education contract within prisons
a significant proportion of offender education is funded outside
the scope of OLASS.
6. The following is a list of some of the
education contracts that are delivered outside the scope of OLASS,
it is meant to be illustrative and in no way reflects all currently
delivered offender education contracts.
7. The Prison Service: Within the prison
system, some Vocational Training remains outside of the scope
of the OLASS. Whilst the size and scope of Vocational Training
varies from prison to prison when considered across the whole
prison estate it represents a significant education delivery tool.
The Prison Service controls and delivers Vocational Training outside
of the scope of OLASS.
8. The National Offender Management Service
and the Probation Service: "Employment Pathfinders"
are education contracts which involve providing offenders in the
community with employment focused qualifications and training.
Pathfinders are regional contracts which are put out to tender
and would be open to Probation Services, private sector companies
and voluntary community organisations to deliver.
9. Jobcentre Plus funds a number of contracts
providing employment focused training to offenders. They include
"Fresh Start", a resettlement service which enables
offenders about to be released to engage with Jobcentre Plus at
the earliest opportunity, this service is delivered both inside
prisons and upon offender release. It enables them to consider
jobs and training or other provision, as well as speeding up the
process for receiving Jobseeker's Allowance. "Progress to
WorkLinkUP" is a voluntary scheme that offers free
and confidential services to a range of hardest to help customers
including offenders. The overall aim of this project is to support
customers to re-engage in education, training, voluntary work
or employment. It offers specialist advice, guidance and support
to help offenders to explore their options for the future. It
works on a one to one basis supporting individuals back into employment.
These contracts, which will be delivered by private sector companies
and voluntary organisations, are put out to tender on a Jobcentre
Plus district wide basis.
10. DfES, with CISCO Systems sponsorship,
funds a scheme called the Prisons ICT Academy (PICTA). The scheme
runs in 20 prisons across England and aims to promote IT training.
PICTA delivers industry recognised qualifications and practical
work experience to improve the employment prospects of offenders.
11. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC)
are responsible for contracting out the OLASS program nationally.
Outside these main contracts, the LSC are also responsible for
a range of other Offender focused initiatives. These include the
"OLASS in the Community" contracts. The first round
of OLASS contracts included both Custody and Community elements.
The second round did not include funding for education delivery
after the offender is released from prison or for offenders who
serve a wholly community based sentence. The LSC has, within the
last year, begun to put out contracts for the community element
of OLASS. These are discrete from the OLASS in Custody contracts
and were subject to an open and competitive tendering exercise.
Organisations delivering OLASS in prisons have not been automatically
awarded the OLASS in the community contracts. This means that
the two different sets of contracts are delivered by different
12. It is A4e's contention that the proliferation
of these different activities/contracts negatively affects the
quality and scope of Offender Education for four main reasons.
13. Reason 1The number of Offender
Education contracts makes the central aim of OLASS, to provide
a seamless offender education service, impossible to deliver.
The offender, in the course of their sentence, could access education
services from a range of different contracts, all delivered by
different organisations. This situation would be acceptable if
it would be possible to ensure that an offender's education records
are effectively transferred. Effective transfer would ensure that
the education received by the offender is continually developed
and built upon; it would also reduce time wasted delivering work/education
that the offender has already covered. At present there is no
coherent and universal system for the transfer of an offender's
Individual Learning Plan, and as such, the more service providers
involved in offender education the more likely an offender will
receive duplicated assessment and education provision. Not only
is such duplication an ineffective use of funding, it also de-motivates
and disengages the offender.
14. Reason 2Fragmentation of Offender
Education also means that funding which could be spent on frontline
delivery of education is inevitably used to fund multiple instances
of the backroom services involved in delivering these contracts.
If all Offender Education was co-ordinated/managed under one contract
substantial efficiencies of scale could be achieved.
15. Reason 3The number of Offender
Education contracts from different funding sources increases the
chances of double funding. Double funding occurs when there are
multiple contracts funded to provide the same service to offenders.
Double funding creates unnecessary competition between education
providers and is an inefficient use of funding.
16. Reason 4There are potentially
pockets of best practice in Offender Education, which if disseminated
across all delivery would result in an improvement of overall
service delivery. The fragmentation of Offender Education will
reduce the chances of this dissemination because of a resulting
lack of clarity and visibility of all the services being provided.
17. It is our recommendation that in the
future Offender Education activity is consolidated under the LSC's
National OLASS contracts. This will go some way to further unify
Offender Education with resulting improvements in funding efficiency,
quality of service and best practice transparency.