College lands £10m contract to educate prison inmates

PUBLISHED: 14:00 25 January 2013

Weston College

Weston College

Archant

THOUSANDS of convicted criminals will be enrolled as Weston College students after the Government awarded it a £10million contract.

The decision will see the college earn millions per year by delivering education packages to prisoners in 13 institutions across the South West.

The college will be responsible for raising the inmates’ aspirations and making sure they receive education when they complete their sentence, as part of the Offenders’ Learning contract.

The move will mean those who are taught by college representatives will be formally enrolled as college students.

In the past four months the college’s principal, Dr Paul Phillips, and members of the senior management team have visited a different prison every week to find out how the current education provision works.

He said: “The majority of prisoners want to engage in learning but it has to be purposeful in their eyes and therefore induction at a prison level is crucial, as is the need to maintain support when prisoners are about to be released.

“One prisoner made it very clear to me that within the prison walls he had purpose and security but once released he feared for how he would cope.”

Peggy Tovey, Weston College’s deputy principal, is responsible for starting the learning and skills service.

She said: “Our aim is to see a new generation of prisoners turn their lives around after taking up the courses we will be offering.”

The college will be working closely with prison governors, staff, partners and employers.

And a key aim is to get employers to find work for ex-offenders and those out on licence.

David Burton, Weston College’s business development manager, said: “I hope to create links with well-known high street retailers and charitable and voluntary sector organisations prepared to give offenders a start.”

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