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Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning

 

Two Cambridge academics, Dr Ruth Armstrong and Dr Amy Ludlow, have received a prestigious Butler Trust Award for their innovative ‘Learning Together’ project in which prisoners at HMP Grendon and students at the University of Cambridge study together within the prison.

The Butler Trust Awards, established in 1985, celebrate those individuals working in correctional settings who go ‘above and beyond’ in their efforts to improve the lives of offenders. Drs Armstrong and Ludlow received seven separate nominations for an award from their students at HMP Grendon, each of whom emphasised the transformational effect the ‘Learning Together’ programme has had on them. ‘Learning Together’ is innovative in its approach to prisoners’ education as it gets university students and prisoners sitting side by side in the same classroom, discussing the same topics, collaborating on (Masters-level) assignments and learning together as equals. In the ‘inclusive and enabling’ atmosphere of the Learning Together classrooms, stereotypes are smashed and warm friendships are created between students and prisoners, who mutually benefit from exploring one another’s perspectives. The ‘Learning Together’ approach to learning and teaching in prisons has been so successful that it has now been extended to other prison and university partnerships across the country. To read more about prisoners’ responses to the scheme, click here.

Of their Butler Trust Award, presented by HRH The Princess Royal in a ceremony at St. James’s Palace, Drs Armstrong and Ludlow say, ‘we felt enormously privileged and proud to have been nominated by our students for this award, and then selected. Notwithstanding the many challenges faced currently by our criminal justice system, we know, from our research and our current experiences of building learning communities with people within the CJS, that criminal justice staff continue to do a huge amount of outstanding work – they do that work every day, often fairly invisibly, without celebration or thanks. It was humbling to spend a day celebrating some of their work that makes such a difference to people’s futures. We are enormously grateful to our colleagues in Cambridge without whom this work would not be possible – our continued supporters at the Institute of Criminology and this year in particular Dr Stacey McDowell and Professor Emma Smith with whom we are running the literary criticism LT course and Drs Beth Phillips and Ryan Williams with whom we are running the philosophy LT course’.

To find out more about Learning Together, or to get involved in the project, please email Drs Armstrong and Ludlow at justis@crim.cam.ac.uk.

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