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Digital Skills: teaching prisoners to code

Digital Skills
Prison and Probation , Offender Learning , Digital Literacy
Skills for Life Network

We take a look at current intiatives that aim to enable prisoners to develop coding skills, build their confidence and increase their chances of employment on release.


Getting with the program: using coding to build family ties inside

Code Club Coordinator Liz Smart is used to setting up free children’s coding clubs in schools, libraries, and community centres, but a chance meeting with a business expert led to her setting up a Code Club for prisoners at HMP Kirkham and their children. There, they could work together to code computer games and animations, strengthening their relationships and building coding skills along the way. 

HMP Kirkham has inspired other prisons to set up their own clubs. At HMP Humber, prisoners were already being taught how to code through the Code 4000 prison education initiative, and so were well placed to run their own Code Club. This has helped them to further build their confidence as they use their new skills to help children and fellow prisoners alike.

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Code 4000

Code 4000 is an initiative that takes its inspiration from The Last Mile, an established prison coding programme that runs in several prisons in California. Starting with a pilot of sixteen prisoners at HMP Humber, Code 4000 is looking to build a network of coding workshops in UK prisons, with the aim of giving people a second chance, turning their lives around, and training them in a skills set which has a high demand in the jobs market.

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