MILTON Keynes College is set to provide education for inmates in prisons in the midlands through a contract worth £37million.
The contract, which will see the college take responsibility for providing education in adult men’s and women’s prisons from open to high security facilities and Young Offender Institutions, will double its turnover to approaching £70m per year.
It was awarded jointly by the Skills Funding Agency and the Ministry of Justice.
Milton Keynes College Executive Director of Offender Learning, Sally Alexander, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for all the staff involved in offender learning and is recognition of the value-for-money and high quality teaching provided by them.
“Recent research shows that prisoners taking part in this kind of education are far less likely to commit more crimes once they are released.
“One study showed a fall in reoffending rates for those involved from 60 per cent to nine per cent. Not only do the individuals have a far better chance for finding work when they are released, but this crime reduction saves the country tens of millions of pounds a year.”
Under the new contract, which starts in August, the college will provide learning opportunities in 35 different institutions in the East and West Midlands and South Central region.
It will also involve 1,200 teaching staff in those regions transferring their employment to the college.
College Principal and CEO, Dr. Julie Mills, added: “Today’s announcement places Milton Keynes College in the top three providers of offender learning in the country.
“It is a huge responsibility and a tremendous vote of confidence in the department and the college. I am very proud not only of the fact that we have been awarded such a significant contract but also of the enormous, positive impact it will have on the individuals concerned, their families and society as a whole.”
College staff will tutor prisoners on a wide variety of subjects from basic literacy and numeracy through a wide range of skills and vocational and academic qualifications.
Both the city’s MPs have strongly welcomed the news.
MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster, told the Citizen: “I am delighted that Milton Keynes College has secured this contract, this means that reoffending rates will be kept low and offenders have the best possible chance of being rehabilitated back into society once they have been released.”
And member for MK South Iain Stewart added: “Milton Keynes College has a fantastic reputation nationally for really making a difference in its work with offenders.
“They work in partnership with prisons and other agencies to tackle reoffending head on and I’m delighted that with this national contract their impact will be extended across a larger group of prisons.”