Ofsted finds significant prison shortfalls

Ofsted FE and skills director Matthew Coffey has delivered a damning verdict on prison education and training in England and Wales.

In a speech on Thursday at London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison he pointed out how 65 per cent of the 78 prisons inspected since 2009 had failed to achieve at least a good grading.

“None was outstanding. Eleven were inadequate — that’s nearly 15 per cent,” he said.

Weaknesses, said Mr Coffey, included poor attendance, poor punctuality, weak careers information and advice, poor quality teaching, and vocational qualifications that were “too low”.

He added: “Far too few prisoners enter prison and then leave it able to calculate a weekly budget, complete a simple work log book or follow written instructions on a work schedule.

“Data from initial assessments have shown that, in some prisons, about 75 per cent of prisoners’ English and maths skills are assessed to be below the equivalent of a GCSE at grade C — 50 per cent do not have the skills expected of an 11-year-old.”

Mr Coffey went on to make six recommendations on prisoner rehabilitation for the 123 prisons that come under Ofsted’s inspection remit.

They included making prisoners gain English and maths qualifications, giving prison governors more responsibility for education and training, setting prisoners vocational and employment-related skills targets at level two and above.

He also called for incentives, such as the tax credit recommendation currently being looked at by the government for apprenticeships, to those who train and employ ex-offenders.