Christopher Stacey, Clinks’ Director of Support and Development, summarises the developments of the future prison education service, and the opportunities for voluntary organisations to contribute.
In April this year, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced its intention to recommission prison education services in line with the vision set out in the government’s prisons strategy white Paper published in December 2021. The white paper stated that the government will “deliver a Prisoner Education Service focused on improving numeracy, literacy and the qualifications that increase prisoners’ prospects of finding work on release.”
The MoJ is currently consulting on the future of prison education services through a ‘market engagement’ process. The phrase ‘market engagement’ sounds and feels like something that should only be of interest to potential suppliers, and we know that several voluntary organisations have not engaged in this process as a result. However, we have been assured by the MoJ and HMPPS that they are at the early stages of development and that they welcome the input and expertise from the full range of voluntary organisations that want to help shape future services, whether that be as potential providers or as organisations that have vital insight and expertise from the work that they do. From Clinks’ perspective, we think it’s important that voluntary organisations, particularly small and specialist ones, are aware of this important opportunity to feed in this crucial area.
What’s happened up to now?
So far, the MoJ and HMPPS have held a virtual launch event (in late April) and then seven webinars to discuss specific themes (curriculum; work-based skills; careers information, advice and guidance; libraries; digital; workforce development and commercial). If you missed the launch or any of the webinars, you can watch them back by registering on Jaggaer, the Ministry of Justice’s commissioning portal (see details below).
We’re also supporting the work of the Prisoner Learning Alliance. I spoke at a meeting that they organised on 26 May to share initial thoughts on the future prison education contracts. Details of that event are here. Prisoner Learning Alliance members were also invited to attend an online consultation on 10 June to discuss the new iteration of the Prison Education Framework (PEF) contracts. Following those sessions, the PLA will be putting together a short briefing to feed into the contracting process. Find out more here.
Opportunities to help shape future prison education services
At this stage there is no formal invitation to tender. That means now is the time and opportunity to give your organisation’s perspective. The information that is being gathered will help with the future service design.
There are a couple of ways that voluntary organisations can get involved:
1. Register on Jaggaer and follow the updates
All current and future information on the prison education service is hosted on Jaggaer, the Ministry of Justice’s commissioning portal. The instructions on the specific market engagement for prison education services can be found here.
You do not need to be a current supplier, or be intending to bid for future contracts, to register on Jaggaer. All interested organisations are encouraged to register and take part, to use this opportunity to help shape future education and skills services in adult prisons, and to be notified about the latest updates.
To access Jaggaer, organisations need to log in to the system. If you do not already have an account, you can register here.
Within Jaggaer, using the left side menu you can select ‘PQQs Open to All Suppliers’ and then select ‘PQQ_285 - Engagement Opportunity: Prison Education’. If you then select ‘Express Interest’ (top right), this will ensure you have access to all current and future information on the prison education service. Through the platform, you can ask questions and find out how to take part in any ongoing market engagement activities.
If you have any trouble registering or using Jaggaer, or you have other questions related to future prison education services, you can contact email@example.com
2. Respond to the surveys you have an interest in
Each webinar that Mo/HMPPS has held has been followed by an online survey. These surveys are open to everyone, even if you could not attend the relevant webinar, and you can access them using the links below. The closing date of the surveys has been extended and they all now close on Monday 20 June.
- Curriculum survey
- Work-based skills survey
- Careers, information, advice and guidance survey
- Libraries survey
- Digital survey
- Workforce development survey
- Commercial survey
One to one sessions are taking place in the coming weeks with suppliers who have registered their interest in these sessions via Jaggaer. More detail on how these sessions were allocated are available on the Jaggaer platform. Once complete, the output of these sessions will be made available to all via Jaggaer.
3. Attend a Clinks event to feed in your thoughts
Clinks is an holding an online event on 6 July, where we will be joined by Abigail Farley, the Prison Education Service Programme Director at HMPPS. This will be an opportunity to find out more about the programme and to contribute your thoughts on what the future prison education service should look like. You can find out more and book onto the event here.
We are also collecting thoughts and responses from voluntary organisations to help us in our work on this. We will be feeding back to MoJ/HMPPS following the event on 6 July so even if you can’t make that event, you can email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by 8 July with the subject line ‘Prison education service’.