Offender Learning Service management team with Erwin James

College Celebrates Offender Learning Lecturers

Weston College held an awards ceremony last week to recognise the successes and achievements of its offender learning teaching provision.

The event, which took place at Weston College’s Conference Centre, included a keynote speech by Guardian journalist Erwin James, who himself served 20 years of a life sentence for murder and has first-hand experience of the work that prison educators do and the massive impact it has on offenders.

He said: “Today was about celebrating the people who work selflessly to improve the lives of others and instil within them a sense of value.

“Prison is a transient population and teachers often don’t have the chance to see the good that they do. I will never forget the teachers who helped me during my 20 years of prison life and this event was a good chance for me to say ‘thank you’.”

Punam Khosla from the Education and Training Foundation, which engages with offender learning in 90 per cent of prisons, attended the event. She said: “Today’s event has captured the importance and impact that the work teachers, instructors and tutors have on the lives of offender learners, not only in terms of learning but also in improving their confidence and motivating them to achieve their potential.”

Weston College has delivered offender learning in prisons across the South West since winning the OLASS 4 contract in 2012. In the last six months its offender learning provision at HMP Leyhill became one of the first prisons to achieve an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grade.