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 and charity, 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.
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.
Rt. Hon David Laws (Chair)
David is the executive chairman of the Education Policy Institute, and the Education Partnerships Group – the international arm of the Ark education charity. Alongside this, David a senior adviser to GK Strategy, a Trustee for the Teacher Development Trust, an advisory council member for Future First, and Chairman of the UPP Advisory Board. Following roles at J.P. Morgan and Barclays, David left the City to work in politics. 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 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 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.
The Unlocked Graduates Summer Trainer role is an exciting opportunity to be part of the newest prison officer initial training scheme. Existing POELT trainers will be seconded to Unlocked Graduates for eight weeks during July – September 2019, where they will deliver an adapted version of the POELT course aimed at growing talented prison officers who can tackle prisoner reoffending and become society’s future leaders.
It begins with two weeks of staff training, upskilling you to deliver the adapted and revised POELT content used on the Unlocked Graduates programme. You will then train the participants through an intensive six week programme.
You will work with a Mentoring Prison Officer (MPO) and a group of roughly 16 participants who will be placed across two prisons. This close-knit group will allow you to tailor your training to their context, preparing them for their rehabilitative work as prison officers.
To apply, please read the Information Pack below:
Then please complete the expression of interest (EOI) form below and email it to
Summer Institute Intern
Unlocked Graduates is running residential training this summer, training graduates to become inspiring leaders and prison officers.
We have appointed qualified prison officers to lead our training. We are now looking for team players who can work alongside them to bring the training to life.
We are looking for support on logistics and in the classroom to support the operations of the programme and to support trainers in running sessions. This may include using personal anecdotes and examples, and modelling realistic prison scenarios.
We welcome applications from people who have convictions.
To apply, please read the Information Pack below:
Full application details can be found in this pack but you will need to email a CV and letter to: email@example.com
A critical leadership role within the small senior leadership team of Unlocked Graduates, the Operations Director will be instrumental in building systems as we spin out of our incubated status and become a standalone charity, as well as expand regionally.
They will be the main point of contact for performance systems and financial oversight as well as managing organisational performance, strategy, governance, finance,
human resources, contracts, compliance, evaluation, and growth and development.
To apply, please read the Information Pack below:
Full application details can be found in this pack but you will need to email a CV and letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
We will open applications in the Spring for our Brand Manager programme. If you are interested in applying, please send an email to email@example.com
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.
Vacancies are now closed for our Summer Internship scheme, but if you’re interested in what intern opportunities are available, please send your CV and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read about our equality and diversity policy.
You can email the Recruitment Team if you have any further questions: email@example.com
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
36 Whitefriars Street, London, EC4Y 8BQ