Remake Educational (R.E.) is an outreach project introducing sixth form pupils to ex-offenders. It is an opportunity for both sides to come together to talk, share experiences, debate and learn.
The project supports ex-offender learning, stimulates informed dialogue in schools about the justice system and enables pupils to gain an insight into the lives of young people from different backgrounds. It is about breaking down barriers and helping pupils understand that ex-offenders are people wanting to change.
Tell Your Story is where the graduates from Project ReMake share their personal experiences of their own pain and struggle with pupils at schools. This form of personal story telling is very powerful for formerly incarcerated people since it allows them to communicate emotionally with younger people in a safe non-judgemental environment and to answer questions put by pupils.
We have been assisted in this effort by St Paul’s Girls’ School where we have also introduced speakers from the prison network such as Governors and Resettlement Officers together with professionals working with prisons.
Harry Hammond, Former Senior Master at Radley College, wrote the following account of a recent seminar given at St Paul's Girls' School:
"This was a fascinating educational experience: a huge amount was packed into an hour, which left me wanting to get more involved in the project. St Paul's Girls' school have been tremendous supporters of ReMake and the engagement of the girls, with excellent support from the staff, made the occasion rich and memorable. The conference was handled with great skill by Judge Kameel Khan who asked insightful and pertinent questions, as befits someone who is such an expert in the field. In the first half we heard of the experiences of Mahala McGaffie, who has been a Governor of Women's prisons and now works on various elements of the settlement of inmates, and Beverley Toone who, amongst other jobs, helps to coordinate businesses who employ ex offenders. We learnt that although the number of women in prison is much lower than that of men (approximately 4,000 as against 85,000 men) their needs are more complex: there is more trauma and more substance abuse, for example. For both men and women, a large number of inmates have previously been in care, but that number is higher for women. Beverley talked movingly about how easy it was for someone to fall just the wrong side of the line: no one wakes up expecting to commit a criminal act but a moment of recklessness - drunken behaviour, careless driving - can lead to a spell in prison. The point is that prisoners are not a separate class, they are people, just the same as anyone else."
ReMAKE Educational is an off shoot of Project ReMAKE; a 12 week training programme for formerly incarcerated people helping them to learn and set up a small business. The programme was created at Stanford University, California and brought to the UK by Judge Kameel Khan. This project has run for two years in British universities (piloted at King’s College, London) enabling ex-offenders to work alongside law students.
Benefits for the School
Pupils can demonstrate practical and valuable work experience in the charity sector for UCAS application.
A project complementing study in law, psychology, politics, social studies and music.
Pupils leaving school with a nuanced and empathetic understanding of this aspect of society.
An opportunity for school to demonstrate they are providing a “public benefit” as defined by the Charity Commission.
The school demonstrating its holistic approach in extending the learning beyond the classroom.
Benefits for ex-offenders
Taking part in productive activities on equal terms with young people from different backgrounds
Sharing their experience of life before, during and after incarceration, without judgment
Help build life goals and visions for their future
Learning at some of the best schools in the country
Enjoying teamwork, camaraderie and a celebratory meal
Comprising a 5 week course for a group of 12 lower sixth pupils, run on the same day each week. Specific dates to run the course can be agreed with the school. The long term view is to run the course annually/biannually.
The sessions may involve:
A guest speaker involved in prison reform to speak at the school about prison life, rehabilitation programmes, prison reform and government policy.
A group of ex-offenders will also visit to tell their story, explaining what it means to be an ex-offender, social exclusion, their prison experience, living in poverty and rebuilding their lives.
A visit to a prison (if allowed) enabling pupils to hear the stories from a group of similar ages to themselves.
In a classroom setting, pupils teaching and helping ex-offenders with their social media profile.
We are working with the charity Finding Rhythms and Warner Brothers bringing together creative songwriters and musicians (ex-offenders and pupils) creating music and story.
Link school with King’s and provide pupils with the opportunity to sit in on a criminology lecture, meet students and get to know more about Criminal Justice.
A celebratory meal with ex-offenders and pupils.
We are open to your views and comments and can structure programmes to suit your school requirements.
This project is in line with The Lord Mayors ‘Skills for Londoners Strategy’ which seeks to bring marginalised people in contact with business. It also fulfils Access Agreements between the university and the Government which requires universities to work with a broad range of students. The Access Agreements are regulated by the Office of Students.
12 Lower Sixth pupils to attend the course. There may be scope for additional pupils to hear the stories of ex-offenders during their visit to the school. Sessions in school to last approximately 2 hours. Off site visits will be longer allowing for travel.
We will work with the school and can adapt the programme if necessary.
The ex-offenders taking part in this course will be vetted and will have come through reliable sources.
ReMAKE Educational is led by Bernadette Ross-Smith.
With 13 years experience as a School Registrar, Bernadette is an advocate for prison reform and ex-offender rehabilitation, visiting HMP Hollesley Bay in Suffolk on a weekly basis, working with a cohort of Suffolk volunteers. She was Chair of Ipswich Winter Night Shelter.