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Good Practices on Prisoners from the Open University

Correspondence Tuition Purposes

Correspondence tuition serves several different purposes. It helps:

- encourage – all students report that feeling encouraged is of vital importance
- teach – the tutor can explain at a distance something that has not been understood
- facilitate skills development (the tutor can help the student develop an underdeveloped ability) the student attains learning outcomes
- individualise the learning experience and, if it connects with the student, make it personal to her or him and acknowledge her or his uniqueness
- provide for flexibility in response to the different learning needs of each student and his or her place in a course of study 
- explain the evaluation process, so a student can identify their strengths and weaknesses
- provide space for reflection, encouraging the student to think about both how something has been done and how well it has been achieved, and hence to identify the next steps in learning - feed forward, looking ahead to mid-term and long-term learning goals of the student, and to skills which are encountered or developed further - involve the student in self-assessment.

Students’ Support

We support students in secure environments as below:

- Accessible modules, prospectus, materials – Students in Secure Environments Team (SiSE) work with Faculties to make as many modules and qualifications available to prisoners as possible taking into account their circumstances. We ensure that no inappropriate subjects or images are included and where possible make alternative activities that can be completed in an offline manner where general students would need to partake online i.e., assessed forums, use of software or external access to websites etc. A bespoke prospectus is produced each year and all materials are produced in a paper format to ensure all prisoners can access this education.

- Learn 7 – We offer most SiSE modules through a prison-based system called Virtual Campus. Module teams host a locked down version of their Learn 2 module websites which restricts access to external links and forums. This gives prisoners in England and Wales the closest study experience to general population as possible.

- Remote Exams – During the pandemic we arranged for prisoners to have extra time to complete their remote exams due to lack of access to the Education Departments being locked down. This came to an end in September 2021 however we have negotiated to have this extended again for 2022 due to restrictions and lockdowns coming back into force in the coming weeks.

- Face 2 Face IAG (Information, Advice and Guidance) – Where possible we hold face to face IAG sessions for both prisoners and prison staff. We also arrange telephone appointments to suit the prison regimes.

- Ceremonies – When a student completes their qualification, we arrange bespoke degree ceremonies within the prisons where other prisoners can attend as guests and sometimes family can also be in attendance.

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