The Ministry of Justice has announced that 2 charities are to share £1.8 million to pilot new reading and writing programmes over the next 2 years – helping more offenders into classrooms and boosting their chances of securing work or training once through the prison gates.
Figures show fewer than half of the male prison population have the expected literacy levels of an 11-year-old, holding them back from charting the path towards a crime-free life.
The Shannon Trust is using the funding to recruit full-time staff to roll out prisoner-to-prisoner reading programmes across nine prisons, building on the support offered by existing volunteers to prisoners with little or no reading ability.
The National Literacy Trust will run monthly events at 6 prisons for more advanced readers, including reading groups and creative writing sessions, to build confidence, raise aspirations and encourage participants to share their stories.
The pilots will offer crucial insights into best practices, with learnings used to shape the government’s new Prisoner Education Service.
The UK government is investing £550 million over the next 3 years to reduce reoffending by getting offenders off drugs and into training, work and stable accommodation.
The Prisons Strategy White Paper, published in December 2021, pledged to establish a ‘Literacy Innovation Scheme’ to challenge potential providers to trial literacy improvement programmes that would inform future prison education plans.
Programmes will be trialled in 15 prisons, with around 750 prisoners expected to benefit initially.
The full Press Release is available on the GOV.UK website.