An Update from Nina Champion

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Western Region Representative

I have really enjoyed my first year as EPEA representative for the Western Region. Thank you for all your support. I was delighted to meet members from Ireland recently when I spoke at the Irish Prison Education Association (IPEA) conference on the theme of wellbeing.

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(Me, centre, with EPEA members Deirdre Brannan & Dr. Jane Corrigan at IPEA Conference in November 2016).

I also enjoyed meeting other Western Region EPEA members, including from Belgium, at the FORINER Erasmus + meeting held in London. I organised a prison education conference in Wales in September and enjoyed a visit to Scotland to meet EPEA members at the launch of the Scottish Prison Service prison education strategy. I was due to visit a prison sports project in France during the summer, but unfortunately it was cancelled after the tragic events in Paris. I look forward to re-arranging that visit in 2017 and also hope to visit members in Holland and Belgium.

Please do contact me if you have an event you would like me to speak at in the Western Region next year I will certainly try my best to attend!

Next EPEA Steering Committee Meeting

This weekend I will be travelling to Poland for our bi-annual steering committee meeting. On the agenda will be plans for the Training Conference, including the theme and logistics.  We will also be discussing International Day of Education in Prison (IDEP) activities from 2016 and plans for making it bigger and better in 2017.

If you have any suggestions or ideas about the conference, IDEP or any other issue please do get in touch with me!

Updates from the Western Region

If you have any other updates from your country, please let me know and I will include them in future  –  thank you!

England:  Prison Education continues to be at the top of the agenda in England, with the publication of a White Paper on Prison Safety and Reform. Some significant changes were also made to the OLASS (Offender Learning and Skills Service) contracts. I highlight the benefits of those changes here. This week also saw the publication of the long awaiting Taylor Review putting education at the heart of the youth justice system and the Government responded to that review announcing a pilot of two ‘secure schools’.

For International Day of Education in Prison (IDEP) an event was held in HMP Brixton to launch ‘Learning Together London’. The Secretary of State for Justice attended and endorsed the concept of prison university partnerships. Read more here. EPEA member Sara Lee has published a research report on music in prisons in the USA and Norway here.

Scotland:  Following the launch earlier in the year of the new strategy for prison education in Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service are busy evaluating bids for the new education contract.

To mark and celebrate International Day of Education in Prison (IDEP) EPEA member James King and others organised an art competition, exhibition and event in HMP Barlinnie showcasing prisoner talents in art, poetry and drama. To find out more see here.

Ireland:    On 11th and 12th November the Irish Prison Education Association held their annual conference on the theme of health and well being. It was an inspiring two days of talks and examples of good practice. For example Roger Mehta explained how his project uses music and song writing to address drug and alcohol misuse (The Harmony Program) and Niall Walsh discussed his ‘insider research’ and the work of the ‘Prisoner Support Network’ run by former prisoners. Other topics included Traveller pride days organised by the Travellers in Prison Initiative and a Red Cross prison project presented to the World Health Organisation. More information and all presentations will shortly be available on the IPEA website.

Wales: The education provider for the new prison in Wales, HMP Berwyn, was announced.  The prison is due to open early in 2017. I spoke at the Association of Colleges Conference about a good practice example of a college, prison & university partnership in HMP Prescoed called CHASE. See here for more details of the programme (Collectively Heighten Awareness of Substance Misuse through Education). For coverage of the Prisoner Learning Alliance Conference and Awards Ceremony at Cardiff Metropolitan University see here.

Belgium: A report into the education needs of foriegn European prisoners has been published by Belgian EPEA members Dorien Brosens and Liesbeth De Doner available here. The Erasmus + FORINER project has started preparing its piloting phase. From January until June 2017, they aim to have at least 50 foreign national prisoners study a distance course. 39 pilot partners from 19 different European countries have been found. The FORINER conference report and presentations are now accessible from the FORINER website. You can subscribe by sending an e-mail to foriner@vocvo.be. The Foriner Project Manager, Inge van Aker, presented the Project to a European Workshop on foreign prisoners organised by the two pan-European prison and probation organisations, EuroPris and CEP.

France: The Chair of EPEA French branch is now a Project Manager at the Ministry of Justice looking at developing a ‘Virtual Work Environment.’  He is interested to hear about other countries e xperiences with technology in prison, and we hope to arrange an EPEA webinar on this topic in the new year. Marc will propose a new organisation of the EPEA French branch in January.

Holland: There have been various international news articles on the fact that Holland is closing prisons including The Washington Post, The Telegraph and an Australian news article focusing on education in Dutch prisons.

Dutch EPEA branch (EPEA-NL):

The branch has a new chair Veronique Achoui.

 

If you have any questions, comments, reports or events, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes and have a Happy Christmas. I look forward to hearing from you!

Nina Champion

Western Region Representative, EPEA

west@epea.org

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