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'Feedback very positive': Waterford prison officer course awarded funding

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Waterford IT and Irish Prison Service win teaching and learning enhancement funding

Waterford IT's Dr Fionnuala Brennan, Irish Prison Service chief officer Raphael O'Keeffe, course co-ordinator Sylvia Flynn and course project manager Cathal Ryan

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and the Irish Prison Service have been awarded funding for their proposal ‘Every Contact Counts, Building Teaching and Learning Capacity on the Higher Certificate in Custodial Care’.

The Higher Certificate in Custodial Care is a two-year programme of prison officer education and has been co-developed and co-delivered by an interdisciplinary team from WIT and the Irish Prison Service.

Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor announced the funding awards for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in December. Three projects connected to WIT were part of €1.65m in funding announced. The Every Contact Counts was successful under the category for programme-level projects enabling teams to build knowledge, skills and competence in teaching and curriculum design.

Governor of the Irish in Prison Service College David Clarke said: “We are delighted to be supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in our collaboration with WIT. The Higher Certificate in Custodial Care plays a vital role in preparing recruit prison officers to build constructive relationships with prisoners, which supports their desistance from crime and which facilitates their rehabilitation and reintegration back into their communities upon release. The first of our recruit prison officers have just recently completed the Higher Certificate in Custodial Care with WIT.”

He added that the feedback from course participants has been very positive. “The funding presents an opportunity to reflect on the quality of the Higher Certificate in Custodial Care and to strengthen our relationship with WIT in delivering an even better programme to over 200 prison officers a year over the next five years."

WIT head of School of Humanities Dr Suzanne Denieffe said the funding award is very welcome and offers recognition of the importance of prison officer education. "Society owes prison officers a debt of gratitude for the work they do behind locked doors. WIT sees our collaboration with the Irish Prison Service as making a valuable contribution to that work and recognise that we have a duty of care to deliver world class prison officer education. The funding will enable continuous reflection and improvement in teaching and learning on the programme.”

The Higher Certificate in Custodial Care is a bespoke programme, breaking new terrain and bringing together an interdisciplinary teaching team of third level lecturers and Irish Prison Service tutors. This funding is awarded through the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and will enable the professional development of staff and students on the Higher Certificate in Custodial Care.

The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education supports institutions and their staff to enhance the learning experience of all students. This funding complements the Higher Education Authorities Innovation and Transformation Fund.