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Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) has appointed Jon Collins as its new chief executive, as people in prison enter their tenth month in lockdown without face-to-face learning.
Jon is currently the chief executive of the Magistrates Association, an independent charity and the membership body for magistrates in England and Wales. He will take up his new role at PET on 1 April 2021.
Since 1989, PET has offered distance learning courses and educational advice to people in prisons across England and Wales – from GCSEs to the start of degrees, as well as a wide range of vocational courses.
Jon joins the charity at a crucial time for prison education. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, prisons have been in lockdown for almost ten months – with people locked in their cells for 23 hours a day. This has meant that in adult prisons the vast majority of learners have had no face-to-face education for nearly a year.
And with conditions worsening for people in prison, Parliament now seems to be turning its attention to their plight. Last November, the Education Select Committee launched a new inquiry, asking ‘are prisoners being left behind?’ – the first to look into prison education for 15 years.
Jon takes over from Rod Clark, who leaves PET after seven and a half years as its chief executive. During Rod’s tenure, the charity has funded over 16,000 courses for people in prison, reaching a landmark 40,000 awards in 2018.
I am delighted and excited to be joining PET. Education and learning should be at the heart of the prison system and I am very much looking forward to working with the staff team and the board of trustees to ensure that PET continues and builds on its important work to improve education provision for people in prison.
Elisabeth Davies, chair of PET, said:
At a time of profound change and disruption within the sector, Jon offers PET stability born of the wealth and depth of his experience and skills. The values match could not be stronger and I am confident that he is the right leader to build on Rod Clark’s impressive legacy.
I am so grateful for all that Rod has done and for his commitment to prison learners and to PET staff. I am delighted that he is able to hand this on to such a safe and committed pair of hands.
Jon has an extensive background in the criminal justice sector. He joined the Magistrates Association in August 2017, having previously been chief executive of the Restorative Justice Council, the membership body for the restorative justice sector, and deputy director of the Police Foundation, an independent policing think tank.
He has previously worked at the Criminal Justice Alliance, a coalition of organisations that works to establish a fairer and more effective criminal justice system, gender equality charity The Fawcett Society, and the crime reduction charity Nacro.
He is also a member of the Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling, a member of the Victims’ Commissioner’s Advisory Group, and a governor of a London primary school.
Notes to editors:
About Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET):
Since 1989, Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) has offered distance learning courses and advice to people in prisons across England and Wales – from GCSEs to the start of degrees, as well as a wide range of vocational courses.
Our work is proven by the Ministry of Justice to reduce the chance of someone returning to prison, and increase their chance of finding work.
And as the UK’s leading prison education charity, we advocate for system-wide improvements to make the most of education’s potential – for prisoners, their families, and society as a whole.
For further information about PET, please contact Calum Walker, Media and Communications Manager, by email or call on 07824 189661.
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