Prisoners: GCE A-level and GCSE

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he has taken to to provide (a) examinations and (b) assessments in the next three months for registered prison learners studying at (i) GCSE and (ii) A level (A) in prison education departments and (B) via distance learning.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

In accordance with advice from Public Health England (PHE) and in order to keep all staff and prisoners safe, temporary measures have been introduced during the pandemic to restrict prison regimes and cease all non-essential activities involving groups of people. This includes education. We have, however, been working hard to maintain education service delivery across the prison estate. Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) and Prison Education Framework (PEF) providers have worked to provide in cell activity, distraction material and learning packs for as many prisoners as possible. We will work with providers to resume education in accordance with advice from PHE over the coming months.

We have also been working with the Open University (OU) to enable the continuation of distance learning in prisons. Processes are in place to ensure that prisoners obtain learning materials and that assignments are returned to the OU for assessment.

With regard to the youth secure estate the Youth Custody Service (YCS) is continuously assessing the situation, and is keen to expand the regime as soon as it is safe and sustainable to do so. Whilst this will not be immediate, the YCS are looking to restarting particular aspects of regime over the coming weeks and months, including increased education, in a safe and managed approach whilst noting the latest available guidance.

The recently published recovery framework for prisons outlines how services (including education) will start to recover from the restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19 in prisons, and how these restrictions can be cautiously rolled back over the coming weeks and months. The Framework was published on GOV.UK and can be accessed via the following link;

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