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Integrating Arts into Offender Learning under OLASS 4 – Summary

When: Tuesday 24th September 2013, 2.30pm – 5pm

Where: JP Morgan Pavilion, Level 3, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance hosted this event collaboratively with officials from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). The event coincided with the opening of the annual Koestler Trust exhibition at the Southbank Centre, which showcases work from people in prison and secure settings.

The event was attended by Heads of Learning and Skills and a wide range of other delegates from prison education and rehabilitation settings. Clive Martin (Director of Clinks) chaired the afternoon. We heard from Sharon Barrett (NOMS), Richard Ward (BIS) and Sarah Stear from the Skills Funding Agency who all promoted the use of arts within the prison setting to; foster learning, engage the hard-to-reach and enable learners to develop key communication skills for employability.

We also heard a range of good practice examples, which looked at using social enterprise and partnership working to ensure that arts are embedded into the prison culture and learning journey. The event was closed by Jeremy Wright MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation who gave a short speech and then took questions from the floor, he stated;

I am grateful for the work of the National Alliance for Arts in Criminal Justice’s members in providing access to broader learning opportunities for prisoners.”

Purposeful activity in prisons teaches new skills, builds self-esteem and raises confidence. This can help offenders break the depressing cycle of re-offending and contributes to the reforms we are making in prisons and rehabilitation.”

(Jeremy Wright, September 2013)

The following good practice case studies were presented:

Facilitators led discussions exploring how arts can be integrated into the following areas under OLASS 4:

  • Accreditation and progression routes
  • Employability and social enterprises
  • Embedded basic and functional skills (literacy, numeracy, language and IT)
  • Improving teaching standards and  Ofsted grading
  • Personal & Social development
  • Improved prison culture, behaviour and engaging the hard to reach

Image courtesy of Prisoners’ Education Trust (c) Rebecca Radmore