Cell Stories: Informal learning in a custodial establishment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concern has been growing in recent years about the continued non-participation of males in the educational process (Gillborn and Kirton, 2000; Burke, 2006; Quinn et al., 2006). This pattern is replicated within the prison environment where, despite free education provision and a range of curriculum options (Parker et al., 2000), inmates, many of whom have rejected learning at the earliest opportunity, still do not avail themselves of the educational opportunities on offer (Levy, 2004). This article presents some key findings from a unique ethnographical study conducted with male prisoners in a maximum security prison in Northern Ireland, indicating that a culture of informal learning exists on the wings, separate and distinct from the formal educational programmes offered by the authorities. The article discusses ways of channelling and enhancing these informal learning practices in ways which might increase future participation in formal educational provision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-29
JournalWidening Participation and Lifelong Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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