What is Learning Together?
Our vision is for education to be the practice of freedom.
Our mission is to provide evidence-led, robustly evaluated, intellectually ambitious and individually and socially transformative learning opportunities through partnership working between higher education and criminal justice organisations.
Our learning communities aim to be individually aspirational and socially transformative. They provide progression and pipeline opportunities for learners to nurture individual growth and to challenge social disadvantage as a barrier to learning.
Our core values are:
Nurturing talent wherever it is found
Providing routes for our learners to reach their potential and challenging structures and practices that limit this
Collaborating with our students and with each other
Acting in theoretically informed ways that shape and change the world and our knowledge, and feeding new knowledge back into our action.
In 2014, Drs Ruth Armstrong and Amy Ludlow, from the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Law and Institute of Criminology, taught a university access course together – a course that aimed to inspire and capacitate bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to join our universities.
Amy and Ruth were struck by some of the punitive attitudes that some of their young students had about social justice. They saw in them the same potential they saw in so many of the people they met in prisons as part of their research. They became excited about what might happen if the access course students and the people they met in prison had the chance to study together, and to think about big ideas together, as equals. When they read some of the research about what makes learning transformative, Amy and Ruth became even more excited about how powerfully it coincided with the capacities and connections that criminological research tells us people need to move away from crime and build meaningful and good lives.
From this, Learning Together was born, beginning in HMP Grendon in January 2015 with a criminology course, and extending now within the University of Cambridge to several other subjects across HMPs Grendon, Warren Hill and Whitemoor. Learning Together has now grown nationally to many other universities and criminal justice organisations, and internationally, to support partnership working in other countries.