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Prison lecturers eye escape route

While the uncertainty continues over the future of prison education contracts, one thing seems increasingly clear - there will be even fewer experienced prison lecturers available to do the job.

As the Department for Education and Skills drags its feet over making announcements about the new contracts, lecturers are getting itchy feet.

The Forum on Prisoner Education had been expecting to hear last month who the winners and losers would be - and presumably no one was more eager to find out than the current lecturers, most of whom are employed by colleges and remain in the dark about what the future holds for them.

The Forum was led to believe the Government was being prevented from making an announcement by the "purdah" imposed on public statements before the general election.

Then it was agreed that the purdah didn't apply after all - although, bizarrely, the information still wasn't forthcoming.

Now, two weeks after the election, the information is coming out only in dribs and drabs, and many of the lecturers still don't know whether they will keep their jobs.

With prison education in such a mess, it's a good job the lecturers, unlike their students, can walk away.

But for those prisoners left twiddling their thumbs, I hear there is enlightenment at the end of the tunnel.

Despite their limited surroundings, inmates could soon have as much contact with the outside world as the average teenager, because the Forum wants them to have access to the internet and emails.

Learndirect courses all round, then.

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