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Coracle Inside

Sophie O'Sullivan, about 3 years ago

Established in 2006, Coracle Inside enables isolated communities to gain access to technology to support learning and personal development. As the world is increasingly shifting toward digital, it is vital for those who have convictions to stay connected. In a time where digital literacy is so important, Coracle Inside are at hand to provide secure in-cell digital learning and assist in finding employment with their jobs board for jobseekers in the London area.

Coracle Inside's innovative Digital Learning Platform (DLP) was developed with the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) input and in close collaboration with Learning Together, who we have featured on the blog previously in our education thought-piece earlier this year.

Bringing real life IT into the custodial environment for the continued educational development of our learners is exceptional. Bringing or extending skills for our learners mirroring the learning of the Cambridge Uni students, has broken down barriers and made the learning environment realistic.

-HMP, Head of Learning and Skills

In 2017, Chromebooks were used to support and enhance the delivery of academic courses across three Learning Together partnership sites- HMPs Grendon, Warren Hill and Whitemoor. Whilst the Chromebooks have no internet or other networking connection, Coracle Inside provides enrolled prisoners with offline access to digital course materials and learning aids, including audio and video resources, assessment tasks and evaluation tools that the students use to evaluate their own learning, across a range of LT courses. Each participating student is issued with a unique log-in code, making it possible for a portfolio of their work to be assembled in a secure electronic portfolio which is retained digitally, paving the way for progression opportunities through further study within the prison estate and post-release.

James Tweed, founder and CEO of Coracle, spoke about the success of supporting Learning Together with digital in-cell,

All of the students described how the Chromebooks had enhanced their learning. The video and audio materials bring subjects to life and enable the classrooms to be more accessible for students with specific learning needs or limited previous experiences of education. Feedback from prisoners suggested that the opportunity to learn and engage in coursework allowed them not only to improve their academic skills, but to break down social barriers - helping to make them more open to others, including prison staff, and improving their confidence levels. Providing digital support to quality education can play a major role in giving prisoners more confidence, direction and skills and, ultimately, a better chance at playing a positive role in society once they are released.

Students reported that the DLP enhanced their learning and really captured their specialist subject in a new and interesting way, bringing it to life. In terms of accessibility, the digital channel was great at supporting the engagement of students with a broader range of learning styles and specific learning differences (e.g. dyslexia). This injects confidence and clarity in the learning space. From an employer's perspective, the development of technological skills is important for those with convictions as they progress and go onto become key players in the workforce, helping to level the playing field through-the-gate and beyond when individuals begin to apply for jobs.

Coracle Inside work in partnership with Highr to provide the technology behind the jobs board, which is intuitively designed to connect former prisoners with job vacancies likely to be open to people with criminal records. They have specially developed algorithms that connect with employers known to support those with convictions. This is why it is crucial for employers to sign up to initiatives such as the Ban the Boxcampaign or Key4life's YOUNITED kitemark, signifying inclusive recruitment, ultimately resulting in greater access to a wider pool of talent. Through the jobs board, employers can have their vacancies clearly advertised and able to reach the ex-offender communities.

The jobs board features a wide range of semi-skilled roles in numerous industries from construction, warehousing, logistics, social care and hospitality. At the moment, these industries face high skills shortages. The jobs board, then, is a high volume platform that enhances both the tailored combined needs of the employee and employer.

For employers, Coracle Inside also have some great informative resources on their site from a simple glossary of abbreviations and acronyms used in the prison sector to a breakdown of prison category structure [linked].

Coracle Inside have recently come together with The Hardman Trust to create the Hardman Directory App, which has converted the information on the 200 plus page Hardman Directory and upgraded it with smartphone functionality. The 'plan your future' feature is really useful for people with convictions as they look at what support they need through-the-gate and beyond.

The employment facet is complete with handy tips for CV writing, volunteering information to develop skills set, entrepreneurial advice, articles on managing money and links to recruitment organisations and friendly employers. It is an extremely comprehensive starting-point and resource hub, much like Inside Connection's specialist aftercare App. The Hardman Directory App is available to download on Android and iOS devices.

The combination of education and employment means that those with convictions are able to broaden their horizons, sharpen their aspirations and acquire the necessary skills required by the employer for future job opportunities. This focus is both practical and revolutionary.

For employers looking to open up their recruitment to include those with a conviction and who wish to be featured on the jobs board, please do contact Coracle Inside through their website or via our directory.