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Thoughts/has anyone taught in a prison?

(19 Posts)
SoMuchMarking Tue 05-Sep-17 22:34:02

As my thread title says.
I'd welcome all thoughts and experiences.

My husband is, understandably, against the idea of me teaching in a prison.
Though he does say he will support my decision reluctantly.

What is the job really like?
Do the prisoners want to learn?
Would I have the option to ask them to leave if they were behaving badly?
Will there be guards nearby?

Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
SoMuchMarking Thu 07-Sep-17 18:34:16

I'm bumping this for any responses.
I've NC as I don't imagine there are that many prison teaching jobs advertised at the moment.

I really would welcome any responses, even if they are of the 'don't touch it with a barge pole' type.

I've struggled to find a permanent teaching job for months now, my experience means that I'm expensive so no-one wants to take me on, other than supply or temporary contracts.

OP’s posts: |
MollyHuaCha Thu 07-Sep-17 18:46:49

There will be a mix of people. Some will be really grateful for your input and value your showing an interest in them.

Some will have had negative school experiences - it may be challenging to get them to change their mindset.

Some will have low levels of numeracy and literacy, which can be harder to address in adults than it is in children.

All learners should have 'earned' their education in prison - it's a privilege, not a right.

You should have the right to exclude anyone who is uncooperative. Prison staff should be close by.

All preparation and marking should be done on site, reducing the need to do prep and admin at home.

Good luck if you go for it!

minisoksmakehardwork Fri 08-Sep-17 20:07:12

From my own knowledge, there will be a prison officer in the 'classroom' to watch and monitor. I don't remember if there were others in the classroom but there will be others very nearby.

There will be an alarm bell button in the room and my advice would be to position your main working area within arms reach. Unless it's next to the officer's desk in which case they will hit it fast if it is needed.

You will get prisoners who are there because they have been told they have to be and others who are there because they want to be.

The prisoners will all be on an incentives and earned privileges scheme where poor behaviour can be reported.

You will be required to write reports about the prisoners and their engagement in education, or lack of, for offender management reports. This goes towards their progress through the prison system and can be used in parole reports.

You will need to undertake training in personal protection, provided by the prison service, this may include hostage negotiation as anyone could end up involved. It's not to scare you but to prepare you. You will not be trained to the same level as prison officers but given enough knowledge to know how to breakaway and to have some knowledge of how the protective systems work, e.g. Control and Restraint, negotiation, conditioning - when a prisoner gets you into a position (through essentially flattery) where you might be asked to break the rules, and you actually consider or do it.

Much of the time as pp says, you will be dealing with people with lower academic levels than general public. Many prisoners have been repeatedly failed in life from early childhood and therefore not engaged effectively in education. There is a higher percentage of adults with diagnosed behaviour disorders and mental health conditions in the prison population so before you even consider that they may have committed an offence they are also dealing with that.

However; teaching adults and getting them engaged in their learning is as important and rewarding as it is for children when it goes well.

minisoksmakehardwork Fri 08-Sep-17 20:07:29


SoMuchMarking Sat 09-Sep-17 07:28:17

Thank you for your replies, I knew some of the information already but some of it is news to me.

There really are aspects of the job that appeal to me immensely but I will need to think carefully, I can see that.

If anyone has any further opinion or experience to add then please do. I'll take it all into account.

OP’s posts: |
junebirthdaygirl Sat 09-Sep-17 07:56:29

I have a friend who works in prison in an other capacity, not teacher or prison officer. She was dreading it but is very happy now she has settled in.She deals with the prisoners personally everyday. I work in adult literacy and there are some differences to teaching regularly so l would study up on that. Also you will need to leave all judgement at the door and know that you have the desire to see your students succeed. I think it makes a difference if they are short term in and out clients as that would be difficult as against more longterm who may have committed one serious crime.
I watched a programme once about a hardened criminal in real life who had his life turned around by his prison teacher. The teacher said they have already got their sentence so that is irrelevant to me. In my class they are just students.
I may be the eternal optimist but l would go for it. Im a teacher and would apply.

KeepSmiling83 Sat 09-Sep-17 09:02:34

It would depend on the type of prison too. Category D (open prison) would be different to Category B for example.

user1471456310 Sun 10-Sep-17 10:56:13

I have worked in prison education for several years and mostly enjoy it. Generally all education areas in prisons have an officer nearby, patrolling. Where I work (cat b) they aren't in the classroom with us but there is a bell in the room for emergencies.

Most prisoners attend voluntarily, but some basically have to attend so can be a bit tricky. Most are fine though.

The biggest difference for me was the length of lessons. Mine are three hours long!

SoMuchMarking Sun 10-Sep-17 11:53:08

Three hours long?
What do you do for that length of time?

OP’s posts: |
SoPassRemarkable Sun 10-Sep-17 12:03:18

Not me but I know someone who does.

She loves her job, high security male prison. She says the inmates are respectful and behave. She feels safe. Has prison officers about at all times. She says she has to be careful to dress very conservatively, buttoned up shirts, etc.

HonniBee Sun 10-Sep-17 12:08:09

This is something I often wonder about so I'm interested to hear opinions too.

Is there one central place where jobs are advertised? Where's the best place to look?

drinkswineoutofamug Sun 10-Sep-17 12:14:50

My daughter was in prison, while she was there she did he math and English . A lot of the prisoners want to use the time productively.
She also gained a certificate in industrial cleaning.
Go for it. If it wasn't for people like you, prisoners wouldn't be given the chance to learn. Not all are bad. They made some stupid life choices and deserve a chance to gain qualifications to turn their lives around on the outside.

IHeartKingThistle Sun 10-Sep-17 12:18:03

I don't think you'd get term time and school holidays, worth checking maybe.

MrsGotobed Sun 10-Sep-17 12:25:24

I've not worked in a prison but have visited in a professional capacity in a previous job.

The one thing that I remembered thinking during those visits was how I wouldn't like working behind locked doors, not being able to wander outside whenever I fancied it , not even having a view out of the window other than a view of a very high wall.

OK, I appreciate that not everyone would feel like this, but I did.

user1471456310 Sun 10-Sep-17 14:18:02

Well the lesson length varies from place to place but they are often that length because of the difficulties of moving prisoners about. So for example I might teach English to a group of about ten prisoners all morning. So you plan for the three hours with a couple of breaks in the classroom. IT is often limited too. I do a mixture of group teaching, and giving the men individual work, exam prep etc.

user1471456310 Sun 10-Sep-17 14:21:19

Definitely no term times or holidays off, we start on 25 days a year if you are full time. The four main providers of education in prison are NOVUS, Peopleplus, Milton Keynes college and Weston College, so their websites are good places to look.

SoMuchMarking Sun 10-Sep-17 15:27:24

Thanks drinkswine I'm not sure the industrial cleaning qualification is quite for me grin that's useful to know though.

So during the three hours we could do some book work user? As well as other things.
In fact, taking holidays when I choose outside of term time is a draw for me, rather than a barrier.

For obvious reasons you don't know who is reading this I don't want to give much away but I have an SEN background, including a residential, so I would hope that has given me some limited insight.

OP’s posts: |
user1471456310 Sun 10-Sep-17 15:53:16

Yes you can, normally you would get a chance to shadow a lesson as well which helps you get an idea of the pace of things. There is a reasonable amount of pressure to get prisoners through their qualifications , so initial assessments/ diagnostics, practice tests, ILPs etc also are factored into the long lessons.

Industrial cleaning is one of the several vocational workshops you'll find in prisons. So it's not just academic subjects you could find yourself teaching!

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