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Ofsted award ‘Outstanding’ grade for Novus education at HMP & YOI Askham Grange

Education provision by Novus at HMP & YOI Askham Grange has been graded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted following an unannounced visit from inspectors.

HMP & YOI Askham Grange near York is one of four women’s prisons in the North of England where Novus deliver education, training and employment opportunities. The learning, skills and work activities at the prison received ‘Outstanding’ across the board following the inspection in April this year.

Peter Cox, Novus Managing Director, said: “Huge congratulations to our team at HMP & YOI Askham Grange on achieving ‘Outstanding’ from Ofsted. This is a real testament to their hard work, passion and professionalism to provide high quality teaching, training and support for our learners. This grade is not given out lightly by the inspectorate and I’m delighted to see their work recognised.

Through education and training our learners have an opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills to improve their employability and create a better future on release.

The report acknowledged the strong partnership working between Novus and the prison staff and the development of “exceptional links with employers.”

The inspectors commended the ‘Outstanding’ quality of the learning and skills and work provision, which supported learners to develop very good vocational skills. “Through prison and external work, prisoners developed employment skills that were relevant to the sectors that they worked in. They worked to very high standards that reflected commercial expectations.”

In the report the inspectors praised the teachers planned learning and training sessions where they delivered “high quality teaching and guidance. Prisoners gained new knowledge and developed new skills through education that prepared them well for their next steps.” The report continued: “The number of prisoners who achieved education qualifications was very high. The standards of work in education were high. In many cases, their work surpassed expectations and was very good.”

Support for learners was also praised. “Staff identified prisoners’ additional support needs swiftly [and] those with additional support needs made good progress.” The report added: “Staff provided prisoners with good information, advice and guidance as well as an effective induction. Well qualified staff helped prisoners make informed decisions about their education and work options and supported them well before they left the prison.”

Phil Copple, Director General of Prisons, said: “This is an outstanding report and I am delighted that prison staff continued to build on the success of the last inspection. HMP Askham Grange is an example of an excellent open prison focused on the needs of the women in their custody.

“I am particularly pleased that inspectors noted prisoners have access to an impressive range of job opportunities and over half of the women released on temporary licence are doing so to go into paid employment, setting them up for life once they have been released.”

The inspection was the first by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons since the introduction of the new Prison Education Framework (PEF) model, which started on 1 April 2019. Under the new PEF contracts, Novus provide prison education services in 43 male and female adult prisons in England.

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