Prison education, transformative pedagogy, prison university partnerships, experiential learning, social justice education


This paper critically discusses two London-based ‘Learning Together’ prison university partnerships - Middlesex University with Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Wandsworth and London South Bank University (LSBU) with HMP Pentonville. The paper documents how students experienced the shared classroom learning approach designed on principles of ‘transformative pedagogy’, and how students interpret their personal development and the knowledge and skills gained as a result. We share the steps taken to bring the Learning Together pedagogical philosophy to life and use evidence from module evaluation findings and critical reflections to demonstrate the transformations that happen. We interpret our findings through the lens of a ‘transformative ripple’ model. In addition to exploring personal transformation, the wider transformations that occur within the public institutions at the centre of these collaborations - the prisons and the universities - are discussed. We argue that for prison and university partnerships to be truly effective, they must embed transformative pedagogic practices at their heart, ensuring the ‘how’ we teach is as important, and deliberately considered, as the ‘what’ we teach.

Author Bio

Natalie Gray is a contract researcher in the Department of Criminology and Sociology, Middlesex University, London, UK. She holds a MSc. in Criminology with Forensic Psychology and an undergraduate degree in Law.

Jenni Ward is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Law of Middlesex University, London, UK.

Jenny Fogarty is an Assistant Professor in Learning and Teaching at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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