Dear GoDoSeeBuy!

Being a musical issue I thought I’d share this karaoke video with you.

Jess Gold
Project Director, Big Green Machine,

GoDoSeeBuy! featured Jess in issue 11.







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RighttoReadUpadteNewpainttooSo, tell me about a typical prisoner…

By Brian Creese

Since publishing my report on prisoners’ basic skills levels last week (see if really interested!) I have been writing and presenting my findings: prisoners are…., prisoners have…., prisoners need….

The problem is that when you write a study like this you start to believe your own rhetoric! But of course there is no such thing as a typical prisoner, nor an average prisoner, they are all different. People, in fact. So even though I tell you that 36.2% of prisoners have level 1 English skills, or 43% of female prisoners have entry level 3 numeracy skills, that tells you nothing about any single prisoner you meet.


If you look at basic skills by age, I can tell you that the oldest group of prisoners, the 50+ group, have the WORST skills for both literacy and numeracy. A shocking state of affairs. I can also tell you that the 50+ group of prisoners have the BEST levels of literacy and numeracy. Yes, 50-year-olds have the largest proportion of top literacy and numeracy skills and the highest proportion of poor literacy and numeracy skills. Similarly, prisoners who describe themselves as Asian or Asian British have the second worst numeracy skills but also the best numeracy skills!


So we need to be a bit careful of stereotyping. Prisons are (over) full of every age, every ethnic description, and inmates have basic skills which are dire and excellent and somewhere in between. My data is designed to let policy makers and education providers know what the scale of challenge is and where resources need to be focussed; and while it is clear that many prisoners need a great deal of help to raise their literacy levels to a reasonable level in order to gain employment, there are also plenty who really should start studying for A level maths.

Brian Creese is a researcher at University College London’s Institute of Education, seeking to understand the skills levels of prisoners in England.

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