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Sector report

Justice sector


Click on individual markers for provider details

Note – There is one secure children’s home in Wales. Estyn is invited by Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) to contribute to the inspection of the education services of this provider but has agreed not to publish its address and it is not shown here. Estyn is also invited to contribute to His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) inspections of Youth Offending Services in Wales; the locations of these providers are not shown.



Number of prisons


Number of young offender institutions


Number of youth offending services


Number of secure children homes

During 2022-2023, Estyn joined His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons on one inspection, that of HMP Swansea, to evaluate the quality of education, training and work activities. The full inspection report for HMP Swansea was published in June 2023 (His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, 2023a). HMI Prisons lead inspections of prisons across England and Wales and their annual report covers the national issues in England and Wales for the secure estate (His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, 2023b).

These following findings are taken from the inspection of HMP Swansea and reflect national issues from the HMCI of Prisons annual report.

Teaching and learning

Inspectors found that the men at Swansea HMP had access to an appropriate curriculum offer, for example, they could learn relevant vocational and industry-specific skills or focus on developing their literacy and numeracy skills. There was an active Welsh-speaking group and Welsh language sessions were provided to prisoners. Tutors and workshop managers guided their learners to make progress. Overall, many learners attained appropriate qualifications during their time at Swansea HMP.

Despite the range of education, training and work opportunities available, the setup of provision designed to match the needs of the local labour market was delayed and this restricted access to these purposeful activities. The prison’s reading strategy was in the early stages of development, and there was insufficient identification of, and provision for, emergent readers.

Care, support and well-being

Learners at HMP Swansea appreciated the opportunities to support their employment prospects and develop the social and emotional skills necessary to be successful inside and outside of prison. In particular, the men valued the support provided by prison mentors for their well-being as well as their learning. Prisoners who participated in education or training generally engaged well in their learning and were respectful to their peers and staff members. However, attendance at education sessions was too inconsistent.

In line with Welsh Government and His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Services strategy for education and skills in Wales (2019), the prison assessed learners appropriately to establish their learning and skills training needs. However, the assessment of additional learning needs was limited to self-disclosure and information about the men’s prior learning was not readily available. This affected the range and quality of support for men with more complex needs.

Swansea HMP’s employment board and hub engaged well with agencies and employers to provide the men with additional training, practical support to find and apply for jobs, as well as opportunities to develop their interview skills. At the time of the inspection, around a quarter of men were in employment six weeks after being released; this compared well with the employment rates of recently released men from other secure estates in Wales.

Leading and improving

In its annual report for the year ending April 2023, HMI Prisons found that following the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, overall, the pace of recovery across the prison sector in England and Wales had been too slow, and too many prisoners were locked up for excessive periods of time (His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, 2023b). During the inspection of HMP Swansea, Estyn inspectors found that leaders and staff members had worked diligently throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to make activity packs, which supported learning and well-being, available to the men during the extended periods in cells. The staff had endeavoured to resume a full-time education, training and work offer for the men as quickly as possible after lockdown restrictions had been lifted.

Leaders at Swansea HMP had a clear vision to meet the needs of prisoners through the curriculum offer and to provide the support and guidance required to help them secure and sustain employment on release and thus reduce their risk of reoffending. They were beginning to use self-evaluation appropriately to inform education staff members’ professional learning as well as shape the curriculum offer. However, they did not always precisely identify areas for improvement or prioritise their improvement activities effectively. As reported by HMI Prisons, engagement with purposeful activity remained a concern (His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, 2023b). We found that leaders were not identifying and addressing the causes of any non-attendance or lack of engagement well enough. In many prisons across England and Wales, staff shortages negatively impacted on prison managers’ ability to secure continuity in the full range of provision, and this was no different at Swansea HMP.


His Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service in Wales (2019) HMPPS in Wales: Learning and Skills strategy for Prisons in Wales. Wales: HMPPS. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 November 2023]

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (2023a) HMP Swansea. UK: HMIP. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 November 2023]

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (2023b) Annual Report 2022-23. UK: HMIP. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 November 2023]