In-cell digital learning

Background: Why is digital in-cell education important?

The prison population in England and Wales has risen 92% since 1993 to around 85,000. The UK incarcerates 142 in 100,000 people: the highest rate in Western Europe. This is despite the National Audit Office stating that there is no correlation between prison population and levels of crime.

Nearly half of all UK prisoners report having no qualifications prior to custody, 42% report having been permanently excluded from school, 29% are identified as having a learning difficulty or disability and over 167 different nationalities are represented in UK prisons.

Overall rates of re-conviction within 12 months of release are 46%. The proportion of offenders in P45 employment one year after release is just 17%. The overall cost of incarceration is around £38,500 per person pa and according to the Education and Employment Strategy published by MoJ (May 2018), "reoffending by those released from custody costs society around £15 billion per year.”

Since Dame Sally Coates’ report in 2016, reducing reoffending has become a priority goal for the UK government: improved training and education is a core part of the strategy. Government research published July 2018 confirms that prisoners who spend time studying through distance learning are significantly more successful in securing work after release. However 20% of prisoners are locked up for more than 22 hours a day. Access to the internet is strictly forbidden and this has made in-cell learning using digital learning platforms impractical.

Coracle Inside’s technology solution dramatically changes opportunities for offenders and improves their outcomes.

In-cell technology

Coracle Inside is an innovative Digital Learning Platform (DLP) embodying a prison-specific Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to allow prisoners to access digital content in-cell, in a secure way through totally locked down devices.

Coracle Inside provides learners with the opportunity to perform skills gap analysis, access course materials and complete assessments and evaluation tests, while offline. Coracle Inside provides course administrators with the technology to support offender rehabilitation and the ability to record individual offline learning journeys once devices are removed from cells and reconnected online.

Research shows a strong correlation between Executive Functions with learner achievement and so our approach has been to create an online model based on the educational technique of Scaffolding and the theory of ‘Informed by Activity’. With this in mind, Coracle-Inside was developed as a prison specific module for Osprey-VLE, Coracle’s Digital Learning Platform (DLP).


Osprey-VLE is used by over 35,000 active users across 80 countries. Alongside course evaluation data, Osprey-VLE collects analytical data about how learners use the platform to build understanding around its effectiveness for teaching and learning and to inform future platform development.

Prison based learners register for specific courses with the prison authorities. Once registration is approved, the prisoner is issued with a Coracle Inside enabled Chromebook, with the relevant course content preloaded. The Chromebooks are managed using Google Managed Services and run in ChromeOS Kiosk mode at all times.