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

    1st November 2017


    Development and Partnerships Manager

    We are looking for someone to take a leading role in diversifying our income, allowing us to expand and enable the charity to deliver an ambitious programme of activity that reaches above and beyond the core recruitment and development scheme.

    Working closely with the Chief Executive and External Relations Director, the person in this post will drive a wide-ranging fundraising strategy that spans trusts and foundations, businesses and individual donors.

    This will involve developing and maintaining a funding pipeline; compiling high quality funding applications based on our strategic priorities; and developing and maintaining strong relationships with a wide range of donors and potential donors.

    Download the full information pack.

    1st November 2017


    Press and digital officer

    This is a new role to bring more media and digital and capacity the to the external relations team as we build our in-house team. Working closely with colleagues across the organisation – especially in recruitment – this role will drive the placement of targeted coverage to drive applications and build the reputation of Unlocked Graduates.

    You will play a key role in raising the status of a currently invisible and undervalued public service by attracting a different kind of leader to work in prisons and help identify ways to reform the prison system, reduce re-offending and improve rehabilitation.

    Download the information 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.



    Brand managers and internships

    As a student there are a number of ways that you can get involved with Unlocked and work with us to promote our aim and mission.

    Each year, we recruit a team of Brand Managers to work for us on campus from September-March. Applications normally open for this role in the spring time. We look for enthusiastic and motivated students to promote the Unlocked brand at university campuses.

    We also offer summer internship opportunities at our head office. These will be advertised on here when we have availability.

    If you would like to support us on campus or are interested in these opportunities please contact us at hello@unlockedgrads.org.uk.

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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