Baroness Morgan of Huyton – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Justice

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Baroness Morgan of Huyton on 2014-04-08.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether prison governors have targets for the improvement of literacy skills of prisoners; and whether those targets are monitored.

Lord Newby

We are taking a number of steps to enhance and build upon the current learning and skills offer to prisoners. We firmly believe that giving offenders the skills and training they need to get and keep jobs on release reduces their likelihood of re-offending.

Officials from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) are working with the Skills Funding Agency and providers of the Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) to continually improve the quality of the teaching and learning experienced by prisoners through the development and dissemination of good practice. New approaches to literacy in particular include an increase in the use of peer mentors, embedded learning as part of other regime activities, and the introduction of aNational Reading Network in association with the Shannon Trust.

Later this year we will be introducing mandatory education assessment by the OLASS providers for all newly-received prisoners. This will ensure that all prisoners, not just those who go on to learning, receive a learning assessment (focused around literacy and numeracy but also covering learning difficulties and disabilities). NOMS and its partners are also working towards implementing better data-sharing arrangements between prisons and OLASS providers, so that more is known about prisoners’ previous assessments, progress, and achievements, as well as their current educational needs.

Intensive literacy and numeracy courses, based on the Army’s model, have also been piloted in prisons, particularly to address the needs of prisoners serving short sentences. Prison Governors and OLASS providers are working together to deliver such courses where appropriate.

Prison Governors do not have targets regarding the improvement of prisoners’ literacy skills. As noted previously, we are taking considerable steps both to further identify literacy learning needs and then to address them.