A programme developed by rugby league legend Graham Lowe that uses sporting language to teach prisoners reading, writing and maths is being rolled out to five prisons this year, following successful trials at two prisons.(from left to right) UCOL Chief Executive, Dr Amanda Lynn; Kick for the Seagulls creator Graham Lowe; Corrections Acting Chief Executive, Rachel Leota; MIT Otara and City General Manager, Nuddy Pillay

Corrections staff and education providers from around the country gathered at UCOL in Palmerston North this week for their first training session of Graham Lowe’s Kick for the Seagulls programme. The sessions are provided by Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) and are hosted at UCOL to education providers and Corrections staff who will then deliver the programme to prisoners at Manawatu, Rimutaka and Hawkes Bay prisons, and Spring Hill and Otago corrections facilities from February.

Acting Chief Executive Rachel Leota, says the initial pilot of “Lowie’s” programme at Northland Region Corrections Facility and Serco-operated Auckland South Corrections Facility was a hit with both staff and prisoners.

Kick for the Seagulls educates prisoners using the language of sport to help teach subjects like maths, reading and writing.

“Over half our prison population have less than two years of secondary school education and below Level 1 NCEA qualifications. Prisoners who complete this programme  are awarded the Certificate in Foundation Skills Level 2. For many, this is their first taste of academic success, and can motivate them to expand their learning and take part in other education, employment and rehabilitation programmes.”

Based on Graham Lowes’ “12 Dynamic Principles”, the programme has a strong focus on literacy and numeracy, and uses sport as the hook to engage learners. As well as promoting physical activity, it also has a cultural element and celebrates success while challenging poor behaviour.

The principles are common-sense philosophies developed throughout Graham’s career that can be applied in all areas of life for personal success. They include ‘practice till the lights go out’, ‘never die wondering’, and ‘discover the power of your team early’.

Graham Lowe, who last year received the 2018 Corrections Partnership Award, says he’s proud the 17-week programme was helping turn prisoners’ lives around.

“The programme’s delivery style works well for learners who have been unsuccessful with traditional teaching methods, which applies to many of the people in our prisons. I commend Corrections for allowing us into its facilities to work with the prisoners and try and change some lives around.”

Further training sessions for educators to deliver the programme in more prisons will be held in the coming months.