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New report on education in prisons

Research , Online Learning , Maths , Inspection & Quality , GCSE , Funding , Functional Skills , ESOL , English , Digital Skills , Assessment
Prison and Probation , Offender Learning
education in prisons

In this new report, the House of Commons Education Select Committee recommends that all prisoners should receive an assessment for learning needs and be given access to educational digital resources.

The report follows the review of education in prisons carried out by Dame Sally Coates in 2016.

Key recommendations

Maths, English and digital skills

“Whilst aiming to meet the basic needs of prisoners with numeracy, literacy and IT, the Ministry of Justice must introduce a broader prison education curriculum which supports prisoners’ sentence and learning plans. The provision should also enable prisoners to embed these basic skills in more practical learning experiences.”

Assessment for learning needs

“We recommend that the Ministry of Justice introduce a consistent assessment process for every prisoner when they enter the prison estate. We believe that there is a strong case for every prisoner to receive an assessment for learning needs from an educational psychologist, or at the very least a more intensive form of screening, and we recommend that the Ministry of Justice prepares a cost appraisal for implementing such an approach.”

Digital resources

“The lack of controlled and secure access to proper online education is a significant barrier to learning…. The Government must set out, by the end of the year, a date for when all prisons will be able to support broadband…. If security can be assured and access can be monitored and tightly restricted to educational purposes, we recommend that the Ministry of Justice provide in-cell laptops, such as Chromebooks, to prisoners only when undertaking education.”

Digital Education Passports

“The Ministry of Justice must introduce a digital education passport, which contains a record of a prisoner’s learning, and any identified educational needs, that follows prisoners through their sentence and across the prison estate, and which can be shown to potential employers.”


“The Government must, in its response to this Report, provide greater clarity on the funding available to fund specialist support staff, how many will be appointed, where they will be distributed across the prison estate, with a minimum of one SENCo per prison, and the timescale for their introduction across the prison estate.”

Find out more about education in prisons

  • Read the report on education in prisons 2022 in full here
  • Read about The Coates Review of education in prison 2016 here
  • Read about the Ofsted and HMIP review of reading education in prisons 2022 here

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