Novus in Custody Tutor's Inspiring Anti-Drugs Lesson

About the project

Novus Functional Skills Tutor Denise Wilson teaches Entry Level Literacy at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. When Denise introduced an anti-drugs project in one of her lessons, it inspired 'Oliver', a Literacy learner and offender at the prison.

The symptoms of ADHD and dyslexia used to make writing and spelling a stressful and upsetting process for him, but an anti-drugs project in one of his Literacy lessons transformed his learning experience.

Oliver found writing even the shortest of sentences a daunting prospect – he would wring his hands, rub his forehead and place his head in his hands, complaining that we was getting stressed and unable to carry on due to a lack of focus.

Denise decided to incorporate the anti-drugs project during a lesson. Offenders inspected posters and determined how the images influenced age groups and colours were used to persuade young people not to take drugs.

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The Story

Oliver was captivated, as the topic resonated with his own experiences. He wrote half a page of continuous text and, with permission, transferred this onto a computer, so he could use the machine’s spelling tools. Completely rejuvenated by the project, he gained newfound confidence and self-esteem. He also spotted an opportunity to make a genuine difference to other people’s lives, by discouraging them from following the path to a life of crime.

Denise says: “Without stress or drama he went on to complete an E3 Literacy exam. He typed the writing part of the exam with pinpoint focus, to such a degree that his intelligence and true personality shone through.”

Oliver's overriding motivation to complete the project was to help others to avoid prison because of the pointlessness, futility and damage that drugs bring to a young person’s life and the people around them.

Denise Wilson

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