Prison Education and STEM Symposium: Innovation, Challenges, Opportunities

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Durham University

Department of Earth Science - ES230

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United Kingdom

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Dr Phil Heron (Durham University) and Rosie Reynolds (Prisoners' Education Trust) are very excited to be working together to host the Prison Education and STEM Symposium, exploring innovation, challenges, and opportunities in science teaching across the prison estate.

This symposium is an opportunity for outreach professionals, prison staff, and STEM academics to bring their expertise together with a broad aim of widening participation in STEM learning across the prison estate.

We welcome attendees interested in learning more about how universities and prisons can work together to deliver STEM education activity.

By offering short presentations, facilitating discussions, and creating space for sharing ideas, practice and experience, we will focus on three key aims:

  • To celebrate and raise awareness of some of the excellent STEM education projects currently running in prison, and to communicate the immense value of these subjects both to employers and individual learners.

  • To better understand the current landscape of STEM education across the prison estate, and consider what role universities can play. What projects have worked already? What hasn’t worked so well?

  • To facilitate connections between people who are interested in running a STEM project in a prison, those who have experience of doing so, and prison staff, in hope that new STEM education might come out of these relationships.


Confirmed speakers include:

  • Jim Taylor, Programmes Director at Code 4000, an initiative teaching prisoners coding skills.

  • Mhairi Stewart, Head of Public Engagement with Research at University of St Andrews and project lead for Cell Block Science, pioneering science education programme for prisons.

  • Governor Phil Novis, HMP Nottingham, who facilitated a number of partnership projects with multiple universities in his governorship of HMP Leicester.

  • Dr. Karen New from the Open University's Journal Club project, who are currently pilotting their work in HMP Bure.

  • Francesca Findlater, CEO of Bounce Back, talking about their joint project with the Royal Astronomical Society to bring astronomy into prisons.

  • Dorigen Hammond, writer and producer who co-led Space is the Place at HMP Leicester.

  • Dalton Harrison, recent graduate of the Think Like a Scientist programme.


We are very excited to host Mim Skinner, author of Jailbirds, to deliver the keynote address. Attendees will have the chance to hear Mim speak and ask her questions.


10.00am Registration opens

10.30am Coffee and arrival

10.40am Welcome address from Durham University Vice Chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge

10.50-12.30pm Session 1: Teaching STEM in Prison (20 minute presentations on Code 4000, Cell Block Science, Space is the Place, Open University's STEM Journal Club, and Beyond Prison Walls.

12.30pm – 1.30pm Lunch

1.30pm – 2.40pm Session 2: Insight from the Inside on STEM in Prison (20-30 minute presentations from Phil Novis (Governor at HMP Nottingham), Louise Dowell (Senior Librarian at HMP Leicester) and Dalton Harrison (graduate of Think Like a Scientist)

2.40pm – 3.00pm Coffee Break

3.00pm – 3.15pm Think Like A Scientist Workshop (Phil Heron, Durham University)

3.15pm – 4.15pm Keynote Speaker: Mim Skinner

4.15pm Group discussion on future plans and possibilities

4.30pm – 5.30pm Reception and networking


Tickets will allow you to hear all our speakers and attend both panels with questions; to attend a taster workshop of the Think Like a Scientist programme, and to hear our keynote (Mim Skinner).

Refreshments will be available and a light lunch will be included.

Some funding is available to contribute towards travel for research students, ECRs, people who have been in prison, and anyone who would otherwise be unable to attend.

If you cannot attend the event but would like to find out more about prison-university partnerships, please join the PUPiL network (prison-university partnerships in learning) to receive our monthly communications.

This symposium is grateful to the support from the British Geophysical Association, the European Geosciences Union, and a Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships (Proposal number: 749664).

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Durham University

Department of Earth Science - ES230

Science Site



United Kingdom

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