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Prisoners (Education Facilities)

Volume 955: debated on Thursday 3 August 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps he takes to ensure that prison governors maintain a security role in relation to education provisions in prisons, without impinging on the professional educational role; and if he is satisfied that there is adequate security and confidentiality preserved regarding access by inmates to files of prisoners;(2) what is his policy regarding educational provisions in penal establishments;(3) to what extent the educational provision to be made in a prison is subject to the individual decision of the prison governor; who else is involved; and what is the extent of variation of educational provision from prison to prison, and region to region by, namely, per capita expenditure, teacher ratio, and any other yardstick used;(4) if he is satisfied that the provision of education in penal establishments is clearly accepted as being the responsibility of the local education authority in whose area the penal establishment is situated.

Education facilities are provided by the local education authorities in whose areas penal establishments are situated. The aim is to provide facilities of a standard available to the community at large. An establishment's education programme is negotiated between the governor and the appropriate local education authority, which is represented by the education officer its senior member of staff in the establishment. Detailed provision varies from establishment to establishment rather than by regions, the main factors influencing variations being the sentence length and security categories of inmates, accommodation and the availability of prison staff. In exercising his overriding responsibility for security the governor has regard among other things to the confidentiality of documents.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prison education staff, by region, are primarily qualified and experienced in (a) adult state education, (b) state secondary education, (c) state primary education and (d) other; and what is his policy regarding the desirability of appointing people qualified and experienced in adult education;(2) how many education appointments in penal institutions, by region, are of retired military personnel; and what his policy is concerning such appointments.

The statistical information requested is held by local education authorities and could not be obtained without lengthy research and at disproportionate cost. The policy concerning appointments is, wherever possible, to appoint teachers qualified in the appropriate branches of the public education service.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he is satisfied that the qualifications and experience of Burnham Scale adult lecturers appointed by local education authorities and seconded to penal institutions in each of the four regional prison departments, North, Midlands, South-East and South-West, respectively, are at least equal to those demanded by colleges of further education in the local education authorities concerned; and how many current holders of appointments to penal institutions are not qualified for transfer to colleges of further education;(2) to what extent Her Majesty's Inspectorate is involved in the educational provision of penal establishments; if he is satisfied that the education service in penal establishments is sufficiently attractive to suitably qualified people; and what steps he takes to ensure that they are given adequate professional support and advice.

Her Majesty's inspectors of schools inspect education arrangements in prison service establishments and submit reports to the Home Office. Educational employment in these establishments is becoming more attractive to suitably qualified people, and there is a programme for their in-service training.I am satisfied that in appointing teaching staff to prison service establishments local education authorities apply the same criteria as they do to staff seeking appoint to other educational institutions. Information is not available about teaching staff who are not qualified for transfer to colleges of further education.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women hold posts at lecturer II and below in the prison education service and how many above lecturer II; what are the corresponding figures for men; how many women are heads of departments in the service; and at what grade.

I am having inquiries made and will write to my hon. Friend about it shortly.