College wins £17m prison learning contract

Weston College will provide education in 19 prisons across England after successfully bidding for three major contracts.

Since 2012, the College has operated in nine prisons across the South West.

Following a revamp of the procurement process, it retained contracts for the South West, and was also selected as the provider for the South East region. The three contracts, worth £15.7 million per year, cover Avon and South Dorset, Devon and North Dorset and Kent, Surrey and Sussex. They begin on April 1. The Weston College brand will now appear in the educational facilities in all 19 prisons.

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of the Weston College Group, said: “It speaks volumes for the results we achieved under the previous system, that we have been selected to deliver education in an additional ten prisons.

“Our dedicated team of staff work tirelessly to change the lives of the prison learners, and improve their prospects of employment on release.

“This is a major endorsement from the Ministry of Justice of those efforts, and we’re extremely proud to be one of just four national providers of prison education across England.

“That said, delivering education in prison is always challenging and we’ll continue to work with prison governors, staff, partners and employers to ensure the quality of our provision remains as high as possible.”

The new Prison Education Framework (PEF), which replaces the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS), will provide a core curriculum of education in each prison. The providers – including Weston College – will deliver the curriculum in the prisons.

The reforms are designed to enable providers to be more flexible and creative in giving individuals the skills they need to unlock their potential, gain employment and become assets to their communities.

Weston College delivers a wide range of courses in the prison, including catering, English, maths, customer service, art, carpentry, plastering and bricklaying.

College lecturers recently held a series of successful MasterChef-style competitions in prisons across the south west. Prison learners were taught a range of catering skills before putting them to the test and cooking a meal of their own. Prison governors then chose the winner after sampling the dishes.