Skip to main content

Prisoners: Basic Skills

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 178251, tabled on 11 October 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department plans to take improve (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills for prisoners throughout the adult male estate.

Answered on

16 October 2018

We have already taken significant steps to improve literacy and numeracy skills for male and female prisoners across the adult prison estate in England. Since 2014, it has been mandatory to test every prisoner’s maths and English skills on entry into prison and from August 2017, these assessments were extended to include prisoners transferring between prisons and on release.

We are taking further steps, which will come into full effect from April 2019 as new prison education providers commence delivery. The new education arrangements are focused on governor empowerment and accountability but, to raise standards and ensure consistency of education and training across the prison estate, we have put in place 12 requirements. These include the maths and English testing regime, but also the development of a personal learning plan, as part of the Sentence Plan, to address issues highlighted by these and other assessments.

Although governors will be empowered to determine their establishment’s curriculum and how it is organised and delivered, a core common curriculum of maths, English, Information and Communications Technology and English for Speakers of Other Languages must be delivered in every prison. The process for implementing this is underway now: the new education providers will deliver that core common curriculum from April 2019.

Named day
Named day questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.