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Our organisation overview

Unlocked Graduates is a two year programme that is putting brilliant graduates and career changers at the heart of prison reform. At the moment, nearly half of all prisoners re-offend within a year of release, creating yet more victims, causing untold damage, and costing the UK more than £15bn. Our solution is a unique leadership programme where participants work as frontline prison officers while completing a fully-funded master’s degree in leadership. They support prisoners to turn their lives around, lead system change and develop the skills to excel no matter where they go in the future.

If you succeeding in getting a place on our award-winning graduate scheme you will work as a frontline prison officer, supporting men and women to turn their lives around whilst also leading system reform.

The Unlocked Graduates programme was one of the key recommendations of the Coates’ Review of prison education, a report that argued that education needs to be put at the heart of the prison service if Government is serious about the rehabilitation of prisoners.

Since starting, we’ve recruited hundreds of future leaders who are already making a real difference to the people in their care. We are passionate about attracting candidates from diverse backgrounds. We want graduates from every discipline and are particularly interested in applications from groups that are currently under-represented in the prison service including LGBT and people of Black, Asian or other ethnic minority backgrounds.

Job description

Unlocked Graduates is a two-year programme that is putting brilliant graduates and career changers at the heart of prison reform. At the moment, nearly half of all prisoners re-offend within a year of release, creating yet more victims, causing untold damage, and costing the UK more than £15bn. Our solution is a unique leadership programme where participants work as frontline prison officers while completing a fully-funded master’s degree in leadership. They support prisoners to turn their lives around, lead system change and develop the skills to excel no matter where they go in the future.

The problems facing prisons are some of the most complex in our society. Our graduates need to be ambitious problem solvers who are willing to hone their skills at the frontline while also thinking about the big picture. Gathering intelligence and using their negotiation skills whether on the landing or in the Governor’s office.

We provide a comprehensive package of benefits to all of our participants. As well as the skills and experience you’ll gain from working, you’ll receive the full support of an experienced Mentoring Prison Officer; a competitive salary of c.£30,000, and career development opportunities with partner organisations such as Clifford Chance and the Ministry of Justice.

But we’re not just looking for people who can excel at the job. We want people who can help shape the whole system for the better. That’s why as the part of the programme, our Unlocked Graduates do a fully-funded, bespoke master’s degree focusing on leadership and rehabilitation. Combining academic study with real-world experience will give you the tools to trial and assess your own solutions in your prison. In your second year, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to a policy paper and present your findings to the Ministry of Justice.

When you’re working as a prison officer, no day is ever the same. Helping some of the most vulnerable and challenging people in society means always being prepared for new situations, and always ready to be an advocate, negotiator, diplomat and leader – all at the same time. You’ll develop your skills in leadership, communication, relationship-building, decision-making and resilience, and change lives while you do.

Following the two-year programme you’re free to decide whether to stay or leave the prison system. Either way, we’ll continue to support your development as part of a growing network of change-making alumni putting their new skills into action. Being a prison officer is about so much more than locking up – and with Unlocked Graduates, it can really open doors.

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