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 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.

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, 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 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.

Head office opportunities

    17th May 2019 – 12.00am


    Communications and digital officer

    This is a critical role that offers the chance to shape and drive the Unlocked Graduates voice across a range of digital, social and print channels. Working closely with colleagues across the organisation – especially in recruitment – this role will drive the placement of targeted content to drive applications and build the reputation of Unlocked Graduates.

    With lots of opportunity for copywriting and the management of video production and design projects, s/he will be familiar with, or willing to build a high level of competency in, a range of social media channels as well as acting as the primary internal web editor.

    For more details and to apply, click here.

    19th May 2019 – 11.59pm

    London or Manchester

    Head of Curriculum

    As Head of Curriculum, you will take the lead on creating an exceptional two-year programme of study that develops our participants into transformative prison officers. In doing so, you’ll empower our participants with the knowledge and capabilities to work with prisoners to dismantle some of the damaging cycles of reoffending that are so costly to those individuals and broader society.

    For Unlocked, the mission is central and life-long: it’s about more than the two years. You will work closely with our Alumni Officer to ensure the programme prepares participants to maximise impact at the end of the two years. You’ll also work with our Recruitment team to ensure a seamless transition from their blue-chip recruitment experience into a programme with an elite feel. Don’t worry if you do not have specific prison expertise. You will be supported by current and former prison service staff. They will assist you with the expertise, information and resources needed to design an excellent curriculum.

    For more details and to apply, click here.

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.

    Spring 2019


    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 for Brand Manager roles are now open – for more information, click here.





    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.

    We have several internship opportunities available – for more information, please click here.

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.uk

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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