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Prison teachers, also known as instructional officers, are employed by state-funded further education institutions to teach subjects and vocational skills to people serving time in UK prisons and young offenders’ institutes. They can either be qualified teachers or experts in a particular trade.
They teach a wide range of subjects and skills which will help offenders find employment more easily after being released. These can include core curriculum subjects such as Maths, Literacy, Art and Design or Sciences, or more work-focused disciplines and skilled labour, e.g. Carpentry or Mechanics.
Unless specialising, most teachers will have to teach a range of core subjects and supervise different classes. They will be responsible for ordering and monitoring all classroom equipment. They will have to accommodate frequent turnover in pupil numbers and levels of education given that, unlike schools which have academic years and structured intake, prisons receive new additions frequently and inconsistently.
Prisons do not have term times, so prison teachers will have different holiday allowances and working hours.
Prison teachers normally have to assess individuals’ educational needs and goals before planning content for lessons. This alone can be a challenge as teachers may be faced with classes consisting of prisoners with varying levels of education and motivation. They record class progress, write reports for senior administrators and will liaise with examining bodies to organise examinations for inmates.
Prison teachers will always have to adhere to strict security regulations. This dramatically restricts the use of certain tools or materials. Normally, teachers will be trained in security before starting a position.