The curious similarities between prisons and schools have recently been the subject of a number of Blog posts, including Rough Justice by All Change Please! and Learners Voice by Graham Brown-Martin. Indeed it seems almost too much of a co-incidence that Michael Gove has moved from being in charge of schools to being in charge of prisons.
Perhaps more surprising is Gove’s for once very sensible acceptance of the recommendation that education needs to be an important part of life in prison, and to this end he has endorsed “in-cell technology, such as iPads, so prisoners can learn independently”. All of which seems at odds with the general approach to the use of IT in schools which is that it is unhelpful to learning. At the same time some prisoners will only be required to spend the weekend in jail.
Rod Clark, chief executive of the Prisoners’ Education Trust, is reported to have said: “For too long, schools in England and Wales have languished in a pre-internet dark age, with children struggling to find a computer to type on, let alone gain internet access.” However, this was quickly corrected as he continued: “I’m sorry, I’ll read that again – For too long, jails in England and Wales have languished in a pre-internet dark age, with prisoners struggling to find a computer to type on, let alone gain internet access.”
In further developments All Change Please! can’t help wondering when it will be announced that in future Judges will be able to decide whether to send convicted criminals to prison – or instead for more serious offenders, to schools?
After being sentenced John ’Stick-em-up’ Smith said:
“I knew robbing banks might land me in the Nick one day, but my sentence is well out of order – I’ve got to spend the next ten years in a school where there is no wi-fi access, no Skype and laptops are banned. I just don’t know how I’m going to cope with being completely cut off from the world like that – I was maybe expecting solitary confinement in prison, but at least with fast fibre broadband in my cell. And I have to attend five full days a week, not just at weekends. And then there’s all that homework and the rigorous academic EBacc… It’s just inhumane – my lawyer has advised me to appeal to the court of human rights.”
Meanwhile in the Queen’s Speech it was also announced that semi-autonomous “reform prisons” will result in groups of prisons being run by a single governor in the same way that academies have turned into chains of schools.
All Change Please! imagines this will make it easier for the poor and non-academic to make a smoother direct transition from Primary and Secondary Multi Academy Trusts to Multi Prison Trusts. Indeed, to increase CEO salaries, MATs will doubtless be encouraged to share resources and administration systems by building Reform Prisons on the same sites as Academies.
Image credit: The US Youth Justice Coalition