Education Unit – Castlerea Prison

Prison Education

GRETB provides an educational service to Castlerea Prison that mirrors best educational services in the community whilst also seeking to reflect the needs and interests of the students when released into society.

Participation by prisoners in education is voluntary. The curriculum is devised in response to the needs of the prisoners and a comprehensive range of courses are taught from Basic Education (involving reading and writing skills) up to examination level (FETAC, Open University).

The nature and practice of education in prisons falls into the category of Adult Education with special emphasis on Second Chance Education. The Education Centres also provide support and backup to prisoners engaged in distance education.

The aim of Prison education is to help prisoners cope with their sentences and prepare them for release, and particularly to offer them new potential within themselves. Such personal development has special urgency in a prison context since the great majority of those in prison have had limited education opportunities in the past.

Pre-release courses are provided in close liaison with other disciplines in the prison, which aims to provide support and advice to prisoners on matters concerning employment, training and educational courses, accommodation and social welfare. Personal and vocational guidance counselling is also given through the adult guidance counsellor.

The centre strives to bring the outside in through Art exhibitions and engaging visiting artists and writers in workshops with the support of the Arts council. The PE dept maintain close links with sporting organisations and run regular competitions. Similarly, students are supported in maintaining links with their families by sending produce from practical classes home.


  • Fetac level 1-6
  • Open University Level 6-8

A very extensive range of subjects are offered within these levels from the following groupings.

  • Personal Development, Business Studies: Computers and Maths, Humanities, English, Social and Political Studies, Irish.
  • Practical: PE, Woodwork and Home Economic, Art
  • Vocational: First Aid, Health & Safety at Work, Work Experience, and Career Preparation.

The school is available to assist and support families of the prisoners while they are attending the education Centre.

Past students can seek support, advice and Guidance after release.

Contact can be made directly with the school or through the main prison reception.

Bernie Downes, Acting Head Teacher, Castlrea Centre of Detention, Harristown, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon.

Phone: 094 9625290