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Chelmsford Prison: Education

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many (a) prisoners and (b) young offenders obtained qualifications while at HM Prison Chelmsford in each of the last five years. (254753)

Qualifications at HMP Chelmsford are achieved by offenders in a variety of areas of the prison’s work. Data are not recorded uniformly although we will improve this through the Learning and Skills Council’s IT-based Learner Record system shortly to roll-out across prisons. As well as solving the longstanding problem of prisoner learner data not following them as they move from prison to prison, the new system will for the first time allow all learning outcomes, no matter by whom delivered in the prison, to be recorded on a single record for the learner.

Health and safety qualifications are delivered in the prison’s workshops. 109 qualifications were achieved in 2005, 350 in 2006, 305 in 2007 and 325 in 2008. A further 734 qualifications, including in textiles and engineering, have been delivered in the prison’s workshops since 2005. Food hygiene qualifications are delivered in the prison kitchens, literacy and numeracy qualifications through Learn Direct provision, parenting qualifications through the Ormiston Trust, a variety of information technology qualifications through a Prison ICT Academy (PICTA) workshop.

The physical education department at the prison has recorded the award of 272 qualifications in financial year 2004-05, 282 in 2005-06, 406 in 2006-07 and 438 in 2007-08. The information is not recorded by age.

Learning and Skills Council data for the 2006-07 academic year shows a total of 52 individual achievements recorded by the offender learning and skills service provider at HMP Chelmsford, of which 15 were achieved by those aged under 21. Final data for 2007-08 are not yet available, but indications are that there were a total of 524 achievements, of which 191 were achieved by those aged under 21. We believe there was significant under-recording of achievements in 2006-07, which we have now taken steps to resolve.

Prior to the 2006-07 academic year, education at HMP Chelmsford was provided by Norwich City College. Data from that period show there were 471 awards recorded against the HM Prison Service Key Performance Target for basic skills in financial year 2003-04, 1,123 in 2004-05, 1,241 in 2005-06 and 617 awards in the first four months of financial year 2006-07.