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Education and Training (Women Prisoners)

Volume 586: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2014

One of my priorities is to see all women benefit from targeted education and training in prison which meets their needs. This will prepare them in the best way possible for eventual release and future employment opportunities. I have therefore set up a joint initiative between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Ministry of Justice to introduce a tailored curriculum in women’s prisons. This will mean all women who are serving custodial sentences will have access to a curriculum which is designed around their needs.

Following an assessment of English and maths skills in the first week of their prison sentence, all female prisoners will have a tailored learning plan to meet their individual needs. They will be offered a mix of “life skills” and formal educational skills, which will build on established programmes already available in women’s prisons.

Alongside these changes, we will expand the accredited peer mentors programme, using it to build life skills. The expanded cohort of peer mentors will be able to enhance their employment opportunities through gaining in prison a formal qualification and experience that supports the rehabilitation of other female prisoners.

These broader learning opportunities are a key part of our fundamental reforms of prisons for women, which will allow us to reach those women who previously have been reluctant to engage in custody with education. The tailored curriculum will mean that female offenders will be better equipped when they leave prison, will have a greater chance of finding employment and, as a result, should be less likely to reoffend. We expect that the new Community Rehabilitation Companies will work with education partners to help women continue their education and training on release.