June 21, 2018 dmh

In July 2017, Prospects commissioned us undertake an international literature review of education and training in prisons. This report draws upon key findings from the UK, Europe and internationally. The work is set within the context of a recommissioning of education and skills in England’s prisons in 2018. The aim of the review is to identify good and innovative policies and practices in education and training, including information, advice and guidance (IAG), to support prisoners into employment and/or training on release.

To access the full report:Prisons International FINAl Lit Review 210618

We define education and training in prisons as: ‘Targeted education and skills mediated provision designed to improve prisoners’ education, employment and/or social outcomes.’ The main questions addressed in the study include:

  • What research has been carried out over the last decade on effective strategies in prisons and local communities to improve prisoner’s outcomes?
  • What types of interventions affect post-release recidivism and employment rates?
  • Where are examples of good/innovative policies and practices?

Furthermore, this review aims to identify which interventions might be most appropriate to implement in England’s prisons to support education and skills, and in turn to improve educational, economic, or social outcomes for prisoners from a wide variety of backgrounds.

The methodology involved:

  • An analysis of key findings from 40 reports provided by national, European and international key informants and library keyword searches;
  • A detailed review of 19 reports on successful practices in reducing reoffending rates in Scotland and Northern Ireland; and
  • An in-depth analysis of 41 inspection reports published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons in England and Wales over the last three years.

To optimise the chances of identifying relevant and reliable research within a literature characterised by the use of varying terminology and diffused across a very wide range of disciplines and academic and public reports, the research team used wide-ranging evidence databases via the University of Warwick Library (such as EBSCO and Scopus which allow sophisticated searching across a wide range of thematic databases) plus personal resource libraries. In addition, key informants were contacted across OECD countries (see Appendix 1). Our literature review includes findings from 100 studies.

A separate complementary report on ‘Education and Training in Prisons in England’ is also available from:

We would like to connect with other researchers, policymakers and /or practitioners who have a keen interest in this topic. Contact: deirdre.hughes3@btinternet


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