Response to government report into prison education

19th May 2022

Statement from James Tweed, CEO of Coracle in response to the Education Select Committee report about prisoner education.

Yesterday was a positive day for prisoners and the prison education system.

In sharing its recommendations for prison education, The Education Select Committee stressed how important prison education and training is for “changing lives and improving futures, getting prisoners onto the ladder of opportunity”. We wholeheartedly agree. At Coracle, we have seen first-hand the powerful impact of education when it is put safely in the hands of a prisoner. We have been working hard to close the growing digital divide that exists in prisons. And we have been partnering with Learning & Skills Managers, Governors, education partners, and the HMPPS to give these hard-to-reach learners the confidence and knowledge to be better prepared to re-join their communities outside of prison.

Because we believe digital literacy is a right for every prisoner.

We understand that improving education among prisoners relies on many factors. One of the key concerns raised by the Select Committee is how to give prisoners secure access to digital learning.

We can say with confidence that education-based IT in prisons is possible. Coracle has already placed safe, effective, and transformative learning devices in cells, in 46 prisons in England and Wales. Our Chromebook laptops, which have no internet or other networking connection, are so secure that they are endorsed by HMPPS.

The report also raised the challenge of tailoring education to prisoner’s individual needs. Our IT-as-a-Service is effective because it is supported and because it is personalised. Our vetted in-prison teams guide prisoners on how to access the interactive digital course materials and learning aids, and they develop bespoke learning plans with each person around their needs and their goals for both inside, and outside of prison.

Yesterday’s report is an opportunity for all of us to build on the work we’ve been doing. Many of our fellow partners or organisations in this space have also spoken out in support of the report’s findings.

We join them and call on the government to bring about faster, fairer change. Putting secure devices in cells will put learning in the hands of many more prisoners – helping improve their lives, reduce reoffending rates, and ultimately build stronger, safer communities.

Notes to editors:

Coracle Inside is a digital literacy project targeting the growing digital divide. It works with partners like Google, GeTech and the Open University to deliver digital learning into prisons. Its in-cell Digital Learning Platform opens the door to improving access to education for prisoners across all the country. Its proprietary xAPI-based Osprey-VLE Learning Management System, developed with support from Innovate UK, is key to measuring impact and outcomes for prisons. By syncing the Chromebook devices, Coracle is able assess data on all aspects of user engagement.