Prison Learning Centres develop innovative project

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New College Lanarkshire is leading partners from all over Europe in an innovative project to enhance its range of non-formal and informal learning activities across its various Learning Centres in prisons across Scotland.

Validation and Motivation for Non-formal and Informal Learning in Prison (VALMOPRIS) is an Erasmus+ project developed to provide a consistent way to measure and record the benefits and impact of the work carried out in prisons across Europe.

New College Lanarkshire Learning Centres – which are based in HMP Barlinnie, HMP YOI Cornton Vale, HMP Dumfries, HMP Glenochil, HMP Greenock, HMP Low Moss and HMP Shotts – have a rich tradition of delivering creative and innovative project-based learning which focuses on rehabilitation and re-engaging learners.

The VALMOPRIS project involves professionals and teachers from seven European countries working in close partnership to design, deliver and validate a wide range of non-formal and informal learning activities. Teachers from New College Lanarkshire Learning Centres are playing an important role in this phase and will be trialing the new validation methodology.

The work undertaken will feed into a training package, guidebook and academic research – available across Europe late 2017.

It is hoped that through the project, prison learning will see long-term benefits:

  • Helping prison teachers across the whole of Europe to design, deliver and validate informal learning
  • Providing an active contribution to policy discourse on prison education, and the role and potential of non-formal and informal learning
  • Influencing prison services by raising the profile of the social and personal competences acquired through informal learning.

Marisa Farrell, Offender Learning and Skills, said: “This project represents an opportunity for our learners, teachers and the prison management to really see the positive impact of all the work we do together.

“Our learning centres provide a rich variety of interesting and challenging informal learning opportunities. Our learners also work exceptionally hard on these projects.  VALMOPRIS will give us an opportunity to formally recognise the students’ achievements in informal learning and to build on the progress they’ve made as a result.”

From a survey of teaching staff across the learning centres a positive response towards validation was given, with one stating: “As a visual artist and art teacher within a prison, I see the value in what I do and how the learners respond. However, I am not sure it is seen by everyone else, including the learners themselves.”

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