Learning their Lesson: T-learning as a Vehicle for In-cell Learning by Prisoners

By Victoria Knight and Jean Hine.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The low educational attainment of high numbers of prisoners in England and Wales is well documented, with the basic skills of literacy and numeracy being particularly problematic. The education of prisoners is a high priority for the UK prison system. Improvement in literacy and numeracy and the attainment of qualifications and job skills are seen to be a mechanism for finding employment on release, something which is known to help convicted offenders avoid further offending. Involvement in education also helps prisons to achieve their targets for prisoner engagement in ‘constructive activity’ during their period of detention. Despite numerous policy initiatives and additional resources that have been provided for this education, the take-up by prisoners is relatively low. There are many reasons for this but often mentioned are previous negative experiences of education, and an unwillingness to publicly admit the need for such education. In-cell learning in private is one potential means of overcoming these resistances, and the use of interactive digital television holds the promise of being an innovative and secure medium for the delivery of such education. This paper outlines the current position in relation to prisoner education in England, the difficulties of engaging the prisoners who need education the most, and the arguments for the provision of in-cell learning via interactive digital television.

Keywords: Prisoner Education, T-learning, Interactive Digital Television, Basic Skills, Crime

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp.51-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.262MB).

Victoria Knight

Senior Research Fellow, Community and Criminal Justice Division, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

Victoria Knight is a Senior Research Fellow in De Montfort University’s Community and Criminal Justice Research Unit. Victoria’s research interests are concerned with a range of issues from offenders, prisoners and imprisonment and aspects of diversity, particularly race, gender and youth. Victoria has worked with a range of research and evaluation methodologies and has successfully completed a number of projects using various approaches and techniques to assess and analyse qualitative and quantitative data. Victoria’s doctorate study focuses on the role of in-cell television in male adult prisons. Victoria has worked on a range of research projects which include Minority Ethnic Prisoners’ Perceptions and Knowledge of the Probation and Prison Services in the East of England (2003), Bail Decisions and Ethnicity for the Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Service (2003) and Restorative Justice in the Secure Estate (2003), Offender Perception Data Project (2004) in the Yorkshire and Humberside region on behalf of the Probation Service, Evaluation of the Scratch Programme for the Improvement of Basic Skills of Young Offenders in Leicestershire for the YOT (2004) and Personal Safety Provisions, Services and Training for Service Providers and Users in Leicester City for the Victims and Witnesses Action Group.

Jean Hine

Reader in Criminology, Community and Criminal Justice, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

Jean Hine is Reader in Criminology at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. Her recent research includes directing the ESRC Research Network ‘Pathways into and out of crime: Risk Resilience and Diversity’, a Home Office evaluation of the social impact of technological crime reduction measures in schools, the national evaluation of On Track (a major government funded project providing early multiple interventions for children at risk of future criminal and antisocial behaviour), children’s understandings of citizenship, the evaluation of pilot youth offending teams, and a study of final warnings to young offenders. She has also undertaken research into the work of the probation service. She has a particular interest in developing participative approaches and understanding issues from offender perspectives and the relationship between education and crime for both young and adult offenders.


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