Memorandum submitted by City & Guilds
City & Guilds has been working as a charity
in support of better practice for over 125 years. We are the UK's
leading vocational awarding body, offering over 500 qualifications
over 28 industry sectors, through 8,500 approved centres in over
100 countries worldwide. Our qualifications, which span seven
levels from basic skills to the highest standards of professional
achievement, are designed to help people and businesses achieve
growth, prosperity and success.
City & Guilds qualifications are designed
to provide a combination of practical experience and theoretical
knowledge. They are developed with the help of experts in relevant
industries and many are offered in partnership with industry bodies.
Our centres include schools, colleges, training organisations,
companies, adult education institutes and the armed forces. Depending
on the centre, it is possible to study full-time, part-time, or
through distance learning.
Our qualifications in the education and training
nationally-recognised pathways to
the flexibility required by changes
in knowledge and skills; and
a wide choice to meet particular
needs and interests.
We have over 130 prisons as centres in England
with 10 contracted (privately run) prisons in addition. From these
centres we received 13,845 learner registrations for 2005-06,
distributed as follows:
Only a third of prisoners have access to formal
education, lasting on average nine hours a week. More than half
of male prisoners and more than two-thirds of female adult prisoners
have no qualifications.
The value of education in improving skills, confidence and employment
prospects, so contributing to reducing offending is widely recognised.
The tension between the overwhelming priority of security and
evolving best practice in learning (including e-learning) is an
impediment to improvements in the availability and scope of learning
For education to be truly effective, there needs
to be better flow of data to follow, or indeed go with, inmates.
Frequent churn between prisons means that those in prison are
frequently put through very many wasteful reassessments and often
begin one course, only to begin it or something different, a short
time later when they are moved. Better data control is essential.
In addition, increasing numbers and current over-crowding undermine
the excellent work which many prison educators do. Positive changes
in prison education will be very difficult to achieve in our view
in isolation from the wider prison regime (including particularly
churn, overcrowding, the physical environment, training of prison
officers, drugs and mental health issues, recording and sharing
of learner information).
Basic skills lie at the heart of successful
efforts to reduce offending and re-offending. Half of all prisoners
are at or below Level 1 (the level expected of an 11 year-old)
in reading, two thirds in numeracy and four-fifths in writing.
A third of offenders have basic skills needs at the lowest levelbelow
There are some practical issues about prisoners' participation
in national qualifications in this area: learning materials and
national tests are increasingly computer-carried and Internet
access remains difficult in prisons (a House of Commons report
states that only 31 out of 75,000 prisoners have access to the
However undue emphasis on basic skills to the
exclusion of all other learning is almost certainly counter-productive.
Motivation is all, and the best motivation to improve basic skills
is often indirect. Learning what interests you or motivates youwhether
family history, fashion or cabinet makingis a way of building
self-esteem and a desire to learnand if the learning is
certificated (eg through our Creative Studies) it creates a real
sense of pride and achievement. We offer Design and Craft qualifications
(including fashion-wear, textiles and soft furnishings, life-drawing
and painting in both men's and women's prisons.
Half of inmates lack the skills needed for 96%
of jobs available upon their release. Nearly half of male sentenced
prisoners were excluded from school and nearly a third of all
prisoners were regular truants whilst at school. Wider employability
skills or "life-skills" often seem more relevant to
those whose experience of life has been at best chaotic. It is
often easier to see the benefits of building the skills and knowledge
needed to manage life and obtain and maintain paid employment
than to appreciate repeating as an adult the "three Rs"
you failed as a child. Employer engagement may be crucial, particularly
given the skills gaps in certain sectors. If more employers could
be supported to work with prisons to provide offenders with the
skills to fill these gaps and become employable much progress
would be made.
One major impediment to prisoners gaining qualifications
is the frequent moves from prison to prison that happen at very
short notice. Transferable learner records would assist, as will
in time electronic portfolios (though limited access to computers
will be a problem) but we would welcome a wider discussion on
how we may assist the mobility of evidence and continuity of assessment
in prisons. The learner record issue is one that has been addressed
by the prisons and we have seen a vast improvement in the transfer
of these. The contracting out of provision in the prisons may
see an improvement in mobility of evidence and continuity of assessment.
However, where no contract exists the individual institutions
still work very much in isolation and, as a result of limited
resources, they often do not give priority to learners' needs
once they have moved on to another institution. There is also
the real difficulty of continuing a programme on leaving prison,
which may not feature highly in any post-release support arrangements.
We accredit prison staff with the following
awards: Levels 2 and 3 NVQs in Custodial Care, Level 3 NVQ in
Custodial Healthcare. We are pleased to discuss further how we
can assist development of staff expertise. We are working closely
with Lifelong Learning UK, the sector skills council responsible
for post 16 teaching and training, in the development of a new
system of teacher training initial and post-qualifying awards.
We would welcome better understanding of the particular needs
of those who work in prison education, to feed into the development
of the new framework and ensure the specialist needs of those
working with learners in prisons are recognised.
The major complication and source of frustration
for an Awarding Body working with the prisons is that it is almost
impossible to support change and have a real impact on offender
learning when initiatives we support or develop are most often
piecemeal and localised. We know we could improve provision for
offender learning enormously if we were given the opportunity
to work with the Prison Service Estate as one national body, rather
than dealing with 140 institutions as we do now. City & Guilds
would appreciate the support of the Select Committee for projects
which would see all stakeholders in offender learning working
in partnership at a national level to manage a significant change
programme, for the benefit of all prisons and YOIs.
City & Guilds values the work it is doing
with the prison service to engage offenders in learning and skills
development. We look forward to continuing and expanding this
work to the benefit of learners and wider society.
5 Para 48.2, House of Commons Education and Skills
Committee, Prison Education, Seventh Report of Session
2004-05, Volume 1. Back
Para 48.1, House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, Prison
Education, Seventh Report of Session 2004-05, Volume 1. Back
Page 8, Home Office: Basic Skills Programmes in the Probation
Service: Evaluation of the Basic Skills Pathfinder. Home Office
online report 14/04. Back
Section 6, Internet Access, para 225, House of Commons: Education
and Skills-Seventh Report, Session 2004-05. Back