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Offenders offered more opportunities to learn

News Release

For Immediate Release 21 February 2013

Offenders offered more opportunities to learn

Corrections and the Open Polytechnic have today launched a partnership which will contribute to reducing re-offending by providing more support for prisoners undertaking learning, and by expanding education services for community-based offenders.

The two parties have agreed to work together to enrol up to 1000 eligible prisoners and community-based offenders per year in a learning programme called ‘Get Ahead’, which will teach them important life skills.

Corrections’ General Manager Service Development, Jo Field says that research shows education and employment can reduce the likelihood of re-offending.

“Successful completion of rehabilitation programmes and gaining employment are linked with lower recidivism. We are committed to reducing re-offending by 25% by 2017 and in order to do this we need to increase the level of literacy, education and employment training available to offenders.

“This programme will contribute to the goal of having 2,000 prisoners per year complete self-directed study and 6,000 community-based offenders receive education and training support leading to stable employment.”

The Get Ahead programme is made up of nine courses split into three steps which will take 24, 16 and 4 weeks to complete respectively. Through 6-8 hours of self-directed study and a two hour coaching session weekly, enrolled offenders will work towards five qualifications.

Open Polytechnic Chief Executive, Dr Caroline Seelig, says the flexibility of being able to use Open Polytechnic distance learning resources, in a mixed mode setting that suits Corrections’ varied environments, provides an innovative solution to upskilling offenders.

“Our programme blends life, work, literacy and numeracy skills and we believe it is very well suited to helping offenders achieve better outcomes when they are ready to re-enter the workforce,” says Dr Seelig.

To be eligible to enrol, offenders must: be 18 years or older and a NZ citizen or permanent resident, have at least 26 weeks left on their sentence, and not have obtained NCEA level 2 or higher or be in school. They must also be motivated to complete the programme and have the ability to progress towards a level 3 qualification.

The country-wide programme implementation will be rolled out in three stages, with the first cohort beginning this month. The second and third cohorts will start in April and June 2013 respectively.


Notes to reporters:

Get Ahead is fee-free. The Open Polytechnic will supply the programmes and trained coaches. Corrections is responsible for recruiting students and providing appropriate facilities. The Open Polytechnic is using its existing Student Achievement Component funding to meet the costs of the Get Ahead programmes to the Department of Corrections. Additionally, as part of a wider programme to support all self-directed learning programmes within prisons, Corrections has agreed to strengthen their peer and voluntary support systems to act as coaches outside of the classroom, which will incur a cost of around $300,000 per annum.

‘Get Ahead’ has been offered to a variety of community groups, fee-free for the past three years. Over 83% of the 2,500 community-based learners who have undertaken the course have completed it.

The Get Ahead to NCEA Programme consists of three parts:
• Step One is called ‘Get Ahead Skills’ and is made up of four courses; it results in the obtainment of the Open Polytechnic Certificate in Career and Self Development and the National Certificate in Employment Skills.
• Step Two is ‘Get Ahead Choices and is made up of four courses, including a vocational option; it results in the obtainment of the Open Polytechnic Certificate in Work and Life Skills and NCEA Level 1.
• Step Three is ‘Get Ahead – NCEA Level 2’, and it is an extra ‘Get Ahead Choices’ vocational option, which results in the obtainment of NCEA Level 2.

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