Leeds School of Social Sciences

Learning Together with Prisons during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the past 4 years, Leeds Beckett University has been working with local prisons as part of the Learning Together Program. 
This program was initially set up at Cambridge University and Leeds Beckett’s involvement began when the Criminology Department set up a module in collaboration with a maximum security prison, HMP Full Sutton. In this module, students from Leeds Beckett learn alongside prison students. The Psychology Department then become involved, introducing a short Learning Psychology Together course at HMP Full Sutton and, more recently, at HMP Askham Grange. These courses provide unique opportunities for students to discuss topics from different perspectives and we have all been struck by the amazing power of shared learning. 
 
But what happened when the COVID-19 pandemic hit? Whilst some of our courses have had to be put on “hold”, we have tried to maintain our provision of educational opportunities to prison students. This is particularly important at a time when prisoners are facing even greater isolation, thought the cancellation of visits and much longer time spent in cells. At HMP Askham Grange, we have been able to provide workbooks and reading materials and give written feedback to students on their work. We have also contributed to the nationwide “ThinkLet” series, set up by the Learning Together Team in Cambridge, to provide weekly educational resources for prisoners. Clearly, these are uncertain times, but we will continue to work with the prison service to find ways in which our students can learn together again.
 
Project team:
Dr Bill Davies (Criminology Department)
Dr Alexandria Bradley (Criminology Department)
Dr Eleanor Willard (Psychology Department)
Dr Emma Dunmore (Psychology Department)
 

Dr Emma Dunmore

Senior Lecturer / Leeds School Of Social Sciences

Emma's focus is teaching and learning and the psychological/social factors which influence student progress and wellbeing. She is interested in teacher feedback, mindsets, the impact of praise and criticism and the use of “wise psychological interventions” in education.

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