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Prison instructor Instructional officer

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Prison instructors help prisoners to gain skills to help them find employment after their release.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £31,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need:

  • to have, or be willing to work towards, a recognised teaching qualification
  • experience and at least a level 3 vocational qualification in your subject area or trade

You’ll need to meet the Prison Service entry requirements, which include nationality and security checks.

You’ll need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Skills for Justice has more information about this career. FE Advice has more information about relevant teaching qualifications.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • the ability to build good relationships and gain trust
  • the ability to manage groups and deal with challenging behaviour
  • good judgement to assess potentially difficult situations
  • motivation skills to help people make the most of their training opportunities

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • finding out the skills and training needs of each prisoner
  • planning training sessions
  • preparing teaching materials
  • providing group or one-to-one instruction
  • updating prisoners' individualised learner records (ILRs)
  • supporting prisoners working towards qualifications
  • making sure prisoners are supervised at all times
  • keeping the working area safe 
  • making sure tools and materials are counted to avoid security risks
  • searching prisoners - known as a ‘rub down’ or ‘pat down’

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000

Experienced: £25,000

Highly Experienced: £31,000 (qualified teacher)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37 hours over a 5-day week. week. You’ll usually need to arrive by 8am to go through the prison’s security procedures for an 8.30am start.

You could work indoors in small factories, workshops or classrooms, or outdoors if you’re teaching farming or horticultural skills.

You may work for a private organisation which is contracted to the prison service under the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS).

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could progress to senior or principal officer, or move into other areas of training or instructing.

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Last updated: 10 September 2018