Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
COMMENDEE 2013-14: Custodial Manager: for dedication and skill at all levels of prison work, in particular as Head of Learning and Skills.
[The following article appeared in issue 6 of the Butler Trust’s magazine, Inspire]
Transforming HMP Dartmoor’s education provision has earned Custodial Manager Danny Branley a Butler Trust Commendation.
When Danny took on the role of Head of Learning and Skills in 2012, the education and activities department was at a low ebb. A recent OFSTED inspection was the worst seen at Dartmoor, with an overall ‘unsatisfactory’ rating. With no previous experience of educational management, Danny was offered the role for his strong track record of successful audits and inspections.
The decision turned out to be the right one, says Governing Governor Terry Witton: ‘The improvement in the management and performance of the education department over the past 12 months has been remarkable.’
From the outset, Danny rose to the challenge of improving prisoners’ educational outcomes and reducing their offending on release. Not only did he have to contend with adjusting to a new educational service provider in WesternCollege, but he won their strong support and their ‘most improved curriculum’ award for South West prisons. A visit by the Learning and Skills Improvement Services (LSIS) added that the prison’s education provision was ‘nothing short of outstanding’, on their preliminary visit in advance of the next Ofsted inspection.
Attendance rates on all education courses have risen dramatically to an average of 95 per cent, with only minor absences due to medical appointments. The English and maths results for functional skills are at least national average level, and the construction courses always achieve more than 90 per cent distinction grades.
Being successful in the role involved Danny ‘upskilling’ himself rapidly – frequently in his own time. Having brokered the new education contract, he set about increasing classroom attendance and making education and activities more rewarding and relevant to prisoners. Liaising with the Head of Reducing Reoffending, he linked education and activities to sentence plans and made sure prisoners were on courses that would be relevant to their employment on release. Linking with external employers and contractors from private industry, he has opened up further opportunities, giving prisoners a stepping stone towards employment.
‘Over a 12-month period, Danny has transformed the educational curriculum at HMP Dartmoor and motivated prisoners to want to learn,’ says Andrew Tanner, HMP Dartmoor’s Benchmarking Project Manager. ‘It’s a truly astonishing transformation in a very short space of time.’
For more information: contact HMP Dartmoor