Sarah Simons

Defeating prisoner stereotypes with a bit of healthy debate

A competition between teams of prisoners challenges them to learn new skills and form complex arguments

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Chatting with a group of prisoners over lunch at HMP Birmingham, any assumptions regarding academic aspirations were swiftly dismantled as the men discussed their educational experience behind bars.

The Category B men’s prison in Winson Green, just outside Birmingham city centre, is managed by G4S and holds 1,450 sentenced and remand prisoners. The deficit of basic skills within the UK prison population is a significant problem.

The Prison Reform Trust recently reported that “more than half (57 per cent) of people entering prison were assessed as having literacy skills expected of an 11 year ...

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