Thank God it's Friday

MONDAY Five candidates for the special needs job visit the institution today. Inevitably a fight breaks out in the classroom where the most promising candidate is observing a lesson. She assures me that she is fine, although she looks pale. She does manage to laugh later, pointing out that at least she's seen for herself how quickly prison officers arrive when an alarm bell is pressed. We explain that fights are usually "handbags at 10 paces" rather than serious violence. In fact we don't get many fights when you consider that we have 224 juveniles aged 15 to 18 locked up.

TUESDAY Every class we run has to lead to recognised accreditation. Over the past decade, more and more qualifications have become available in more subjects, at all levels, and most exam boards now recognise that prisons are substantial sources of income. Today is exams day. I sent the list of candidates, plus reserves, to the wings last week. We need the reserves to get a full contingent as some lads may have been released early or be at court.

WEDNESDAY I'm accosted by an angry Mike, who demands to know why I "made him" take the maths exam when I know that he hates the subject and is crap at it. I ask him whether he managed to answer all the questions. He did. I remind him that he achieved 85 per cent on the practice paper and that we agreed he was ready to take the test. The reassurance works. He will feel even better in a couple of weeks when his certificate arrives.

THURSDAY I attend a sentence review meeting with Mike, his mum, his personal officer and his youth offending team worker. Mike beams with pride when I say his progress includes sitting the exam. His mum is grateful as, like most of our students, he missed most of his secondary education. He is also much calmer on the wing this sentence, probably because he's starting to achieve in education.

FRIDAY Senco interviews today. The most promising candidate comes - and gets the job. When she says she saw the real thing on Monday, the education manager laughingly suggests arranging a fight for all potentially good staff. We don't always fill posts at the first attempt as many teachers never think of prison education as a career.

Judy Jackson wrote this diary when she was deputy education manager at Brinsford young offender institution. She is now education manager at HMP Shrewsbury. If you have a diary to share (no more than 450 words), write to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX or email friday@ We pay for every article we publish

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