Being a prison officer involves a great deal of skill, specialist training and professionalism. We want to make sure the expertise you gain during your training is formally recognised, so in 2021, anyone successfully applying to become a prison officer in England will work towards a level 3 Custody and Detention Professional Apprenticeship qualification as they train.
On-the-job training – learn while you earn
Learning shouldn’t just be about the classroom, so our prison officer training programme will now run as an apprenticeship and you’ll be learning on the job every day! You will be gaining specialist training alongside your regular day-to-day prison officer duties over a period of 12 to 18 months. You will be assessed at the end, when your line manager and apprenticeship coach agree you are ready, and you will gain a formal level 3 qualification at the end.
But an apprenticeship isn’t only about gaining a new qualification, it will help you to become the best prison officer you can be.
When you think about apprenticeships, you might think they are only for school leavers, but they are actually for people of all ages who want to learn while they earn in a real, work-based environment, and benefitting from the experience of the colleagues around them.
Mixing classroom learning with real life experience
You will start off with a 4-week induction at the prison where you will be working. During this time you will get to know your colleagues, learn how the prison runs and understand a bit more about life in a prison. You will also work towards a level 2 functional skills qualification if you haven’t already achieved a GCSE grade C / level 4 or above in English and Maths.
After your induction, you will have 8 weeks of training at a learning centre, which is likely to be close to your prison. Here you will learn the fundamental skills that you will need throughout your prison career.
The rest of your training will be back at your prison, with regular support from your apprenticeship coach.
Roughly half way through your first year, you will have 2 weeks out of your regular duties at the prison to do some dedicated learning, and 1 of these weeks will be back with other apprentices at your learning centre. At the end of your first year, you will be given another week back at your learning centre to reflect on your current progress and start to prepare for your final assessments.
Testing how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned
There is no need to worry too much about the assessments just yet. You will be supported all the way through by your apprenticeship coach, your line manager, and all your colleagues. Everyone wants you to succeed, so you will only be put forward for assessment once your coach and line manager agree that you are ready.
You will need to have reached level 2 functional skills in English and Maths to complete the course and do your assessments.
Future development throughout your career
When you join the prison and probation service, you’ll find there is an emphasis on continuous learning, which won’t stop once you earn your qualification. There are a lot of apprenticeship opportunities at all levels available for staff as they progress through their careers.
So if you’re ready to become a prison officer apprentice, find out more about how to apply and start your journey at our recruitment website.