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Promote communication skillsCommunication Starters and Enders Cards logo

Take a look at the Communication Starters and Enders Cards which contain activities that you can use at the start or end of prison workshops, training or education sessions to help learners develop their confidence and abilities to communicate effectively. This is particularly important for employability, or the communication practices people need to take part in to seek and keep work and navigate their lives and learning.

In addition to the cards, you'll find a list of resources that would form a useful toolkit to support the activities, 10 communication abilities valued by employers, and mapped to each activity the associated developing English guiding principles.

English in context

It can be hard for some learners to understand why they need to improve their skills. This series of vocational flyers highlight opportunities that the prison workshops bring to gain skills for employment and explain why communication skills are needed.

The flyer, Working in Painting and Decorating includes:

  • Follow written and spoken instructions about work schedules
  • Read technical language on procedures for safe use and disposal of materials

Teaching, learning and assessmentImage of the Unlocking English guide for the prison sector

Within our guide, Unlocking English  discover the 7 Principles for Supporting Literacy/ Language (English) Development.

Find practical teaching and learning activities ranging from detailed session ideas for prison English teachers to short activities that you can embed into other prison work, support and training.

You'll find teaching tips too including ways to extend and differentiate activities too, when appropriate.


Reading schemes and book lists

Many prisons run reading schemes to encourage and develop reading abilities. These schemes include:

The Reading Agency's Reading Ahead 

Shannon Trust's Turning Pages 

Prison Reading Groups (PRG)

Diffusion books

Looking for reading material for prisoners with English as a second or additional language? Use this book recommendation list, compiled by the Bell Foundation.

Continual professional development

Do you want to refresh or develop your personal English skills? Take a look at the Pathways through English resources course on Foundation’s online learning environment. Use the self-assessment tool to direct you to the resources you need or select topics of interest. You'll find tips on teaching the topics too. 

As well as this course to develop your personal English skills the Foundation offers a whole range of courses within the English Pipeline programme.

Our News and Events page we highlight events and courses relevant to the sector.

Find out what other practitioners and providers are doing in their delivery of English and ESOL by subscribing to our free Offender Learning Newsletter.



Below you will find a selection of key resources to support the teaching and embedding of English and ESOL within the secure estate. 

Find out how Family Learning is delivered in prisons and the benefits that Family Reading and Storytelling have on developing communication skills and reducing reoffending.

You'll find further resources on our maths, English and ESOL page.


Would you like printed copies of resources? You can request a number of our English and ESOL resources in printed form by completing this order form.


Improving capacity to deliver English is a high priority for the Foundation and we have worked with providers across all the Education and Training sector to develop a rich resource of research, training and materials for teachers, trainers and leaders to improve their practice and support learners to higher levels of achievement.  To find out about the support that is available for those delivering English and ESOL visit our English and ESOL exhibition sites.


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