Claire and Chloë worked on this project in 2018 through PDNorth and in partnership with Novus. We were funded by the Education and Training Foundation as part of the 'Professional Exchange Network' programme.
The work was inspired by a team of learning support assistants and teachers from HMPYOI Lancaster Farms, who had identified some resources that would help learners in neurodivergent groups/ with learning differences and disabilities to take part in education. The work also became known as the ‘mindfulness toolkit’ because many of the activities were designed to provide ways for learners to ‘take a breath’ so they could refocus on their learning tasks. Each task card in the Toolkit is mapped to a SEND pathway: Communication and interaction, Learning and cognition, Social, emotional and mental health, and Sensory and hearing impairments.
The project drew together team form many different prisons, having started in HMP Lancaster Farms, the work drew on resources developed by HMP Wymott, HMP Kirkham and HMP Thorn Cross. The toolbox is designed to be used with prisoners with a range of SEND needs but it particularly focusses on mental well-being, as an aspect of SEND where the team identified a gap in current support for prisoners. Each prisoner who spends time with a learning support specialist can be introduced to activities/ techniques or resources that may support his/ her needs and these are also shared with the instructors/ teacher who work with them.
It is not only prison learners who can benefit from these resources. At our sharing event in 2018, people came from across the FE sector and fed back that they thought the resources could support learners in many other classrooms.