Meet the students who learn Marxist theory with Pentonville Prison inmates

London South Bank University students before the completion of the "learning together" module in Pen

London South Bank University students before the completion of the "learning together" module in Pentonville Prison. Picture: Jemima Broadbridge - Credit: Archant

An unlikely combination of university students and inmates have achieved that rarest of feats – a feelgood story about Pentonville Prison.

The Caledonian Road jail is never far from the news, with regular stories of violence, drug abuse, squalor and prison breaks.

But on Wednesday, eight students from London South Bank University completed a 12-week “learning together” course with 10 inmates.

Every week since October, the students, who study social justice within education, took part in two-hour workshops in the prison learning the history and theory of the education system. One module, for example, focused on the Marxist theory that elites are promoted through the system while the poor don’t get the same opportunities.

Certificates were presented to both students and inmates on Wednesday afternoon. One prisoner said: “If I am honest I never thought the students would want to come back to the jail. So I was happy when they came back.”

And student Dan Dunham admitted: “I feel comfortable to admit that when first entering Pentonville I was hesitant, anxious and speechless.

“On arrival I continued to ask myself questions such as ‘what if the prisoners don’t like me?’, ‘what if I don’t like them?’, ‘how much should I tell them about myself?’ and ‘how much should I ask?’

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“Within 30 minutes of setting up our introductory session and meeting the Pentonville students all these questions had been answered – none of it mattered.”

Course leader Jenny Fogarty said she hopes to make the Pentonville partnership a permanent fixture on the course.