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Prison education staff

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.


Michael Gove prisons' speech

UCU has welcomed a renewed focus from government on the importance of education in prisons, but said that it cannot be delivered on the cheap: UCU response to Michael Gove's prisons speech

Prison rep elections in TMC and MKC - giving members a voice

All prison reps are elected on an annual basis, and we have just opened up the process for nominations for 2015/16 for the TMC and MKC prison education branches. Each prison should have a main representative and a health & safety rep, and each region should have a union learning and an equality rep.
Electing reps is key to giving members in each institution a voice. The reps are able to raise issues locally, to attend the branch AGM in November to elect the branch committee and to ensure members' views are raised nationally with your employer.
If you would like to stand/re-stand or nominate someone for one of the roles, then please complete the nomination form:
 (.doc) file type icon Prison rep elections info and nomination form (.doc) [149kb]

Prison education potential being squandered

February 2014: a report released by UCU and the Institute of Education (IoE) says the power of prison educators to help offenders turn their lives around is being 'squandered' due to constant retendering for teaching contracts.

See: Prison education potential is being squandered by constant changing of teaching contracts, warns report

 (.pdf) file type icon Prison education: professionalism against the odds - executive summary, Feb 14 (.pdf) [102kb]
 (.pdf) file type icon Prison education: professionalism against the odds, Feb 14 (.pdf) [651kb]

Prison educators recruitment materials

The new poster is suitable for all prison education staff. There are also new recruitment leaflets for the Manchester College and Milton Keynes branches.
 (.pdf) file type icon Prison educators recruitment poster (.pdf) [28kb]
 (.pdf) file type icon TMC prison educators recruitment flyer (.pdf) [35kb]
 (.pdf) file type icon MK prison educators recruitment flyer (.pdf) [34kb]

Exclusion procedure

NOMS has 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.  (.pdf) file type icon PSI 24 2013 – Exclusion Personnel: grounds of misconduct (.pdf) [403kb]

Consultation on Transforming Youth Custody

May 2013: UCU has submitted a response to the government consultation on reforming youth custody arrangements including proposals for the creation of 'Secure Colleges':   (.pdf) file type icon Transforming Youth Custody consultation – UCU response, May 2013 (.pdf) [433kb]

Prison educators suffering from high levels of stress

Education staff who work in prisons have considerably higher levels of work-related stress than British workers in general, a new report commissioned by UCU has found:
read the press release
 (.pdf) file type icon A Punishing Regime - a survey of occupational stress and well-being among prison educators, Mar 13 (.pdf) [225kb]

UCU and prison education

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.

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