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Sector summary

Justice sector


(Only one prison in Wales was inspected during the 2022-2023 academic year, and therefore these findings do not represent the national picture across Wales for the whole of the justice sector.)

Teaching and learning

What's going well

  • Prisoners benefit from a broad range of relevant education, training and work activities that are linked to labour market needs.
  • Overall, many learners gain appropriate qualifications during their time in prison.
  • There are beneficial opportunities to learn and practise Welsh language skills.

What needs to improve

  • The identification of and support for emergent readers is not strong enough.
  • Delays in setting up training workshops restrict access to valuable curriculum provision.
  • Barriers to and inconsistencies in prisoners’ access to education induction and allocation of spaces, limit take-up of available spaces.

Care, support and well-being

What's going well

  • The prison’s employment board and hub work well together to motivate men to secure gainful employment.
  • Prison mentors continue to provide valuable support for learning and well-being needs.
  • Staff members support prisoners well to build their confidence and resilience and develop social and emotional skills.

What needs to improve

  • Prisoners’ additional learning needs are not being identified robustly enough. This makes it difficult to establish accurately what provision and staff training is required to support these learners effectively.
  • Attendance at education, training and work sessions is too variable, and the reasons for this are not understood well enough.

Leading and improving

What's going well

  • Leaders and staff worked well together to ensure a return to a full-time education, training and work offer following the disruption of the pandemic.
  • Teaching staff access a range of professional learning to develop their teaching.

What needs to improve

  • The professional learning and development offer does not cater well enough for vocational tutors to update and develop their vocational skills.
  • The causes of non-attendance or shortfalls in the take-up of education, training and work are not analysed well enough to identify areas for improvement.

Overview of recommendations


One provider was inspected during 2022-2023.

Estyn joined HMI of Prisons to inspect the education, skills and work activities in one prison inspection, at Swansea HMP, during 2022-2023. We identified the following recommendations in relation to education and training:

  • Use information from self-evaluation activities effectively to identify precise areas for improvement.
  • Prioritise actions to address shortcomings in infrastructure and processes to secure the full return to education, training and work activities.
  • Improve the identification of, and support for, emergent readers and those with additional learning needs.

Reflective questions

Questions to help providers accurately identify and develop prisoners’ reading skills:

It is well-understood that prisoners often have lower literacy skills than the general population. This affects their educational attainment and engagement in society, and increases the likelihood of reoffending.

  • How well does leadership across the prison and at all levels visibly and actively support the development of prisoners’ reading skills and their reading for pleasure?
  • How well does the curriculum provide regular, planned, and meaningful opportunities to progressively develop prisoners’ reading skills, including those for emergent readers?
  • How well are prisoners’ reading skills developed across the curriculum and outside of skills sessions, including in workplace learning and training?
  • Do assessments provide precise information on prisoners’ learning needs, including their reading abilities and the reading skills they need to develop?
  • How well does the information from reading assessments support curriculum design and teaching approaches and the advice and guidance given to prisoners regarding the appropriate pathways or programmes to follow?
  • How well does professional learning support staff across the curriculum to learn how to develop prisoners’ reading skills from their starting points?
  • How well does the library cater for emergent readers’ interests?
  • How effective are incentives to encourage prisoners to improve their reading and to read for pleasure?