Learner Story: Kyle at HMPYOI

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Many Young Offenders attending prison for the first time find the adjustment to prison regime and the emotional restrictions and stresses of the environment particularly tough; for Kyle, this was a challenge that was too hard-hitting, leaving him confused, angry, depressed and causing him to reject any authoritative figure.

However, Kyle had the motivation to seek education.  He arrived in class defensive and incredibly opinionated. A view he made very clear to the High Sheriff of Hampshire, Lady Louisa Portal, when she was visiting the education department on his first day in the maths class.

Over time, and with a tremendous amount of unconditional support from the maths tutor, Adi Berry, and the learning support tutor, Jennifer Hogan, Kyle started to realise his own potential. Adi and Jennifer helped him understand and advised him on strategies to help him cope with the prison regime and to approach problems diplomatically, allowing him to get a response appropriate to the conditions. But, above all, they guided him into the realisation that education is a very powerful tool; a tool that would help him rationalise situations maturely, allowing him to select an objective response, giving him confidence in his own ability looking toward future employment and improving his life skills.

Once Kyle’s motivation had been identified, he became dedicated to full time education: maths in the morning followed by English in the afternoon; striving to achieve level 2 in both subjects. Kyle was so determined and dedicated to improve himself he would ask for homework, take on extra tasks and enjoyed helping others in the classroom.  Education became vital to him, and his drive to progress himself and others became truly obvious.  His attitude to life became refreshingly happy, his interaction with others became infectious and fun and his self-respect and confidence became an inspiration to class members in both maths and English, a true talisman for showing that if you want to achieve, the only person stopping you is you.

It was a happy coincidence that, on her return to the education department six weeks later, the first person that the High Sheriff saw was Kyle. Lady Portal was extremely impressed to see the clear changes in Kyle’s attitude toward himself and others in the prison and his determined outlook toward his future. She congratulated him verbally and on a letter she sent to the Education Manager she stated that Kyle “was a different person and clearly his engagement with education has given him the confidence and a feeling of self-worth that he so desperately needs to give him a chance of making the right choices when he is released”.

Montserrat Perez, Education Manager at HMP/YOI Winchester said “Kyle proves that perseverance, patience and maturity are fundamental when teaching in Offender Learning. Kyle proved to staff and others at HMP/YOI Winchester that there is hope for everybody, no matter how troubled or misguided the learner.  We are extremely proud of Kyle and will often use him as an example to others when they too don’t see the importance and potential of their education for themselves and their family.”

Kyle reflected on his learner journey on his last few days at HMP/YOI Winchester, congratulating staff on their support and their positive role-modelling as he felt he would not have achieved so much without them. He received a certificate for his outstanding achievement and a speech was given by Adi Berry in class.