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‘The Cinderella service’: Teaching in prisons and young offender institutions in England and Wales

By Lindy D. Nahmad-Williams


Education in prisons has been described as the ‘Cinderella Service’ in comparison to other educational contexts. It has only rarely been studied as an educational or criminological issue, with the result that there is limited published research on prison education in the UK. This research into prison education takes a teaching and learning perspective, with a focus on the uniqueness of teaching within a prison context. This study considers if, and how, teachers are prepared for working with prisoners with a diverse range of learning needs within the constraints of a prison environment.\ud The empirical research was based on an interpretive, phenomenological approach which sought to find out the viewpoints and experiences of Heads of Offender Learning from college lead providers, education managers and teachers in prisons and an Ofsted Inspector of Education in prisons. In addition to questionnaires and interviews, observations of teaching sessions provided further insight into the realities of teaching in a prison context. Aspects of critical theory underpinned the approach to champion the cause of prison-based teachers who are largely marginalised by the wider educational community.\ud Findings indicate that although there are many aspects that are beyond the control of teachers in prisons, particularly related to the prison regime, there are some that can be developed by education departments. These include more comprehensive knowledge of prisons, the nature of prisoners as learners, the pastoral role and the development of creative, personalised, collaborative approaches to teaching and learning within meaningful contexts. The thesis provides an overview of current practice and raises issues about the role of teachers in prisons, the training and support they are given, and the implications for future policy and practice

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/10055

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