Our organisation

Unlocked Graduates identifies brilliant people to work in one of the most demanding environments possible. We ask them to spend two years working as prison officers as part of a leadership programme, challenging them to come up with new ideas to improve the way prisons work across the country.

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.

Our Chief Executive Natasha Porter, who was a member of the Coates’ Review team and a Teach First Ambassador, founded Unlocked Graduates in 2016.

Our board, which is chaired by the Rt Hon David Laws and includes Dame Sally Coates as well as experts in criminal justice and the graduate recruitment, keeps us focused on our core mission to reduce reoffending.

Unlocked Graduates is supported in its incubation state by Catch22, the social business, so that it can become a successful independent organisation and we work in partnership with the University of Suffolk to deliver our Master’s in Leadership and Custodial Environments.

Read more about our team and board.

Unlocked executive team

  • Natasha Porter, Chief Executive and Founder

    Natasha was inspired to start Unlocked Graduates while working with Dame Sally Coates on her review into prison education.  Before this Natasha was a founding teacher and Senior Leader at King Solomon Academy, leading the English department and then the upper school from pre-opening stage until their first GCSE results which were some of the best in the country. She has extensive experience in educational policy development, both at think tank Policy Exchange, and the Department for Education. Natasha continues to be involved in setting up new schools, and is a founding governor of One Degree Academy.

  • Maria Donovan, Recruitment Director

    Maria is an experienced graduate recruiter. As part of the start-up team for Think Ahead, a scheme to recruit graduates to be mental health social workers, she successfully recruited the first cohort of 100 to this new programme and built their brand so successfully that they appeared on the Times Top 100 graduate recruiters in their second year of recruitment. Before this, she was a recruiter for Teach First where she attracted 1 in 10 Oxford finalists to apply to the programme. Maria is also a Teach First Ambassador, having completed their Leadership Development Programme while teaching for two years in Birmingham.

  • Bodil Isaksen, Programme Director

    Bodil joined Unlocked Graduates as an experienced leading adult trainer who has a passion for researching and applying the best teaching and learning techniques. She has spoken widely on these issues and been a course tutor for BPP’s PGCE (post-graduate certificate in education) as well as contributing to two books on initial training and continuing professional development. Bodil was a founding teacher and Head of Department at Michaela Community School, a free school in Brent. She is a Teach First Ambassador and spent two years as a Maths teacher in a Lee Valley school.

  • Sarah Pearson, External Relations Director

    Sarah joined Unlocked from the New Schools Network where she built the campaigns function and acted as interim director. Prior to this she was Associate Director at public affairs and corporate communications agency Hanover where she led a range of projects, specialising in health and education campaigns that involved partnerships between the public, third and private sectors for clients both in the UK and across Europe. She is a school governor and also spends time as a leader for a small Youth Hostel Association youth programme that sees her taking groups of young people walking and cycling all over the UK.

  • Shona Tchilingirian, Finance and Operations Director

    Shona is an experienced operations director with a passion for and expertise in prison reform. She joined Unlocked Graduates from the Prisoners’ Education Trust where she led a team of people who provided tailored educational advice and learning opportunities to thousands of serving prisoners each year, and supported wider policies changes across the prison estate. Shona is an ACA and DCha qualified accountant with experience in audit, financial consultancy and fundraising.

We are supported by a highly experienced and expert board.

Unlocked board

  • Rt. Hon David Laws (Chair)

    David is the executive chairman of the Education Policy Institute. He is also an international advisor to ARK, advising the organisation on the development of global education systems. Alongside this, David is a Trustee for the Teacher Development Trust, and an advisory council member for Future First. He is also Chairman of the UPP Advisory Board. Following roles at J.P. Morgan and Barclays, David left the City to work in politics and was Lib Dem Policy Director from 1997 to 1999. David was elected MP for Yeovil in 2001, and served in this capacity until 2015. From 2012 to 2015 David was Schools Minister and Minister of State in the Cabinet Office.

  • Dame Sally Coates

    Sally is Director of all United Learning Secondary Academies. She also chaired The Dame Sally Coates’ Review of Prison Education. She joined United Learning in September 2014. Her previous role was as Principal of Burlington Danes Academy, which she turned around from one of the lowest performing to one of the highest performing schools in the country. She was acting as Executive Principal at Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton until July 2012 and Executive Principal of Ark Putney and West London Free School until July 2014. Prior to that, Sally was Head of Sacred Heart School an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ VA school in Camberwell, London Borough of Southwark. Sally chaired The Review of the Teaching Standards and most recently chaired the Skills Test Review. She also served as a member of the Key Stage 2 Test Review Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Bew. Sally was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List.

  • Chris Wright

    Chris is Chief Executive of Catch22. He leads the team of 1,800 staff and volunteers that in 2015/16 supported 30,000 people in over 100 locations. Chris originally trained as a probation officer and in 1999 established Nottingham’s first multi-agency Youth Offending Team. From there he moved to the Youth Justice Board as Head of Performance where he led on developing and implementing a performance management framework for the Youth Justice System. He joined Rainer, which became Catch22, in 2006. Chris is an advocate for the social enterprise sector playing a key role in the delivery of public services. As a result, Catch22 is known both for its innovative and collaborative approach to justice, education, employability and social care.

  • James Darley

    James was Head of Graduate Recruitment at Teach First and has been working in graduate recruitment for over 18 years. He is responsible for the attraction and selection of up to 2,000 top graduates who want to join the Teach First Leadership Development Programme each year. He joined Teach First more than 11 years ago from Credit Suisse where he was the European Head of Graduate Recruitment. Prior to this, James spent two years at Deutsche Bank as Global Head of Fixed Income Graduate Recruitment and at the same time served as a Director of the AGR. James is the Chair of the Advisory Board of Police Now, a Trustee of Frontline, an advisory board member of The Springboard Bursary Foundation and Think Ahead, and also sits on the Police Challenge Board. James also supports a number of university employer/career services including Edinburgh, Leeds and Leicester.

  • Erwin James

    Erwin served 20 years of a life sentence in prison before his release in August 2004, he is a Guardian columnist, editor of Inside Time and author of books about his experiences including A Life Inside: a prisoner’s and Notebook and Redeemable.

Head office opportunities


    South East


    Youth Mentoring Prison Officer

    Mentoring Prison Officers (MPOs) might be the single most important aspect of the Unlocked programme. You’ll work with 15-20 prison officers in two prisons. You will run group sessions and 1-to-1 mentoring sessions with the participants developing them into exceptional prison officers. Your own professional development is prioritised: one day a week is spent in Head Office receiving training including a nationally recognised coaching
    qualification. At Summer Institute (our version of POELT training), you’ll run training sessions and work closely with POELT tutors to support your groups.

    We are recruiting one Youth MPO role has the same duties as the MPO role but you will be mentoring participants placed in Medway STC and Cookham Wood YOI, working with under-18s.

    Download the job information pack

    To apply for this role, fill in the EOI form provided here and submit it to programme@unlockedgrads.org.uk.

    Youth Mentoring Prison Officer EOI




    Summer Trainers

    Summer Trainers are POELT trainers who deliver exceptional initial training to our participants. You’ll have two weeks of train-the-trainer to upskill you on how our training is different from POELT. You will be paired with an MPO to deliver exceptional training to 15-20 learners. Unlocked has a real sense of community and we’re proud of the trusting relationships that participants build with Summer Trainers. This is an exciting opportunity to be on the forefront of new training developments in the prison service, with an emphasis on scenario-based learning, feedback for tutors, and the opportunity to specialise.

    Summer trainer job ad

    To apply for this role, fill in the EOI form provided here and submit it to programme@unlockedgrads.org.uk.

    Summer Trainer – EOI

    22nd January 2018



    Finance Manager

    This is a great opportunity to support a start-up organisation to develop the finance systems and culture we need to achieve our mission. The Finance Manager is a broad role with full responsibility for financial management and systems development. The role involves developing, managing, and coordinating the effective running of Unlocked Graduate’s finance and payroll functions; ensuring the effective implementation of financial controls; supporting budget holders to make effective value for money decisions; develop transparent financial reporting systems; and under the supervision of the Director of Operations and Finance, lead the design and implementation of robust and efficient finance systems to help us grow our organisation in a robust and sustainable way.

    To apply for this role, download the job information pack below and submit your application to jobs@unlockedgrads.org.uk.

    Finance Manager information pack

    18th December 2017


    Research analyst

    This is a new role that will be the first building block in a central research and evaluation function at Unlocked Graduates. We are seeking candidates who will monitor and measure the impact of the Unlocked programme at a person, prison and societal level while providing a central research support function to our participants, reviewing and assessing the strength of their research findings and policy recommendations.  We want to put a research driven approach at the heart of what we do, using early lessons to drive continuous improvement and direct funding decisions.

    To apply for this role, download the job information pack below and submit your application to jobs@unlockedgrads.org.uk.

    Unlocked Research Analyst job information pack

    19th March 2018


    Recruitment officer

    The Recruitment Officer is responsible for supporting the delivery of our recruitment strategy to attract high-calibre candidates to the role of a prison officer and guide them through all stages of the process: from initial attraction of applicants through university careers and off-campus events, to screening and assessing candidates and supporting them up until the point that they start the programme. As a young organisation, you will play a key role in building our brand and increasing awareness of this career opportunity for graduates. The position offers an exciting mix of hands-on attraction work, systems development, data analysis, stakeholder management, and wider input into the work of a start-up organisation.

    To apply for this role, download the job information pack below and submit your application to jobs@unlockedgrads.org.uk.

    Recruitment Officer Application Pack

Undergraduate opportunities

    Summer 2017

    South East

    Unlocked graduate programme

    Our two-year Leadership Development Programme will accelerate your development as an inspirational and supportive leader. We recruit for our programme every year from September.

    September 2018


    Brand managers

    Do you want to support the Unlocked Graduates vision whilst earning some extra money at university? We’re looking for Brand Managers to help build awareness of what we do on campus. We offer flexible hours, the Living Wage, and the opportunity to develop various skills including communication, networking, and organising.

    Applications are now open for Brand Managers to work from September 2018 to March 2019. To register your interest, download the job information pack below and submit the form on the left. Applications will open soon.

    Unlocked Brand Manager information pack





    An internship with Unlocked Graduates is a great opportunity to gain practical office skills, experience working in a dynamic new charity, and learn more about the prison system. Interns are likely to work closely with our recruitment and communications teams. If you’re interested in applying for our Summer Internship scheme, please contact us at hello@unlockedgrads.org.uk.

    Unlocked Internship information pack


Click here to read about our equality and diversity policy.

You can email the Recruitment Team if you have any further questions: hello@unlockedgrads.org

Contact us

The best way to reach us is by email.

Please visit our FAQs page first as we may have already addressed your enquiry.

Recruitment enquiries: We are currently experiencing high volumes of emails and the team aren’t always immediately available. Please provide a brief description of your query and we’ll make sure we get back to you within five working days.

020 3905 1560

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