Prison education is the unsung part of post-school education. It plays a crucial role in work with offenders and the prevention of re-offending. Its lecturers work often work in the most difficult of situations, often with less support or respect.
Over recent years prison education has been through privatisation and contracting out of services, cuts in resources and staff, lowering of pay rates and narrowing of the prison education curriculum.
Prison education potential being squandered
February 2014: Prisoners are not getting the help they need to turn their lives around because of a failing prison education system with no continuity, warns a report released by UCU and the Institute of Education (IoE). The report says the power of prison educators to help offenders turn their lives around is being 'squandered' due to constant retendering for teaching contracts.
NOMS has finally introduced a procedure for dealing with the exclusion of staff not directly employed by the prison service, ie UCU members employed by a college or other provider of Education and Skills in prisons. Members should contact their rep or regional office immediately they are excluded so they can have support. This is a major achievement for UCU and at long last there is a fair process that will apply to all.PSI 24 2013 – Exclusion Personnel: grounds of misconduct (.pdf) [403kb]
UCU is the only union that represents all prison education lecturers. During privatisation UCU (as NATFHE) took the issues of prison education lecturers to the European Court of Justice and won. After lobbying by UCU during summer 2006, prison educators also won guarantees that the cost and value of their pension will remain effectively unchanged despite a change of employer.
UCU in in regular contact with the Home Office, OLSU, LSC and the colleges and other providers who employ lecturing staff. UCU also works very closely with other trade unions in the criminal justice sector and with other organisations concerned with the welfare of prisoners such as the Prison Reform Trust, The Howard league for penal Reform, and the Prisoner Education Trust.
There are UCU prison education branches, but most members are members of the UCU branch of whichever college is their employer. UCU branch officers can offer information and advice.