A race to excellence or to the bottom? a preliminary study of the state and stats of correctional education in Scottish Young Offenders Institutions

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) spends a substantial amount of its £382.3 Million (in 2014) annual budget (£18 Million) on 'purposeful activity', including education and vocational skills training. Compared to other UK regions, particularly England and Wales and indeed other countries such as Canada, Australia and USA, (see Esperian 2010; Baylis 2003; Tracy 2003; Morin 1981; Merrington et al. 2004; Jancic 1998; Lockwood et al. 2012; Darling and Price 2004), education and vocational skills training in correctional setting for both adult and young offenders in Scotland have received little scholarly attention. As a devolved region of the UK, with powers, inter alia, over the criminal justice system, including the management of prisons (Audit Scotland 2005), Scotland offers particular insights regarding the nature of correctional education (learning, vocational training and employment skills) particularly for young offenders (16-21 years). The aim of this poster presentation is to generate initial discussion for a research currently being planned focusing on whether in Scotland correctional education in YOIs is a race to excellence as per the ambitions of the country's Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) or as in England is a race to the bottom (see Czerniawski 2015). Given that CfE governs educational provision including young people from 16-18 years, some of who (2016 figures: 254 male and 17 female) are in correctional institutions, it is important to ask critical questions regarding the quality and efficacy of correctional education, and the extent to which, if at all, CfE 'excellence' underpins not only its provision but expected outcomes around the often quoted four capacities (successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors) (Scottish Government 2009; 2014). For the proposed study, the areas of research interest on correctional education in YOIs in Scotland are, but not limited to, resources available, extent and quality of provision, young inmates' engagement with it, how this is managed by prison staff and teachers involved in its delivery. Owing to the general perception that prison inmates in Scotland do not show interest in the education, it is necessary also to investigate what should be done to motivate inmates and improve learning in YOIs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference : Educational Futures in a Changing Landscape: Bridging Boundaries or "Mind the Gap"? - University of the West of Scotland, Ayr, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Nov 201724 Nov 2017


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleSERA Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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