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Learn as you earn: our professional Custody and Detention Apprenticeship

Gain a professional qualification while learning specialist skills to become an expert at your job.

You will be fully supported to put your training into practice as part of your daily role.

Your training will get your prison service career off to the best possible start.

How apprentices learn skills on the job

Benefits of an apprenticeship

The Level 3 Custody and Detention Professional Apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to gain specialist training alongside your regular day-to-day prison officer duties.

You can learn expert skills and behaviours to become a high performing prison officer including:

  • gain a recognised qualification (equivalent to an A level)
  • work with expert and experienced coaches
  • additional training to reach standards in English and Maths (if required)
  • learn key transferrable skills and knowledge

As a professionally trained prison officer you will be given important skills and knowledge that will stand you in good stead throughout your prison service career.

What will the foundation training cover?

Your professional learning journey


Like any prison officer starting their career, you will have an induction at your ‘home’ prison location.

After completing your local induction, you will be ready to start your specialist learning and training as part of your apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship training

As part of the prison officer apprenticeship scheme, you will receive structured support and learning opportunities.

Here you will learn and practise all the key skills and behaviours that are vital in undertaking the role of a prison officer.

If required, you will undertake an assessment of your Maths and English and be supported throughout your apprenticeship to complete a Level 2 in Functional Skills which is an equivalent qualification to GCSE. An external provider currently runs this element of our apprenticeship. Learning is tailored to the individual, including specialist support for neuro-diverse learners and for people with protected characteristics.

Week 1 – 10: Following a local induction at your ‘home’ prison you will go on a foundation training programme at a designated learning centre. This will usually be close to your ‘home’ prison location.

Week 11 – 25:  You will be back at your ‘home’ location where you will carry on with your training with regular support from apprenticeship coaches.

You will also have 2 checkpoints to review your progress:

Checkpoint 1 (weeks 25 to 28)

This will include 1 week of portfolio work outside of your regular working area and 1 week at a Learning and Development Centre.

Checkpoint 2 (weeks 44 to 47)

You will spend 1 week at a designated learning centre. This week is an opportunity to reflect on your current progress and prepare for the Gateway at the end of your apprenticeship.

Support for assessment

Apprenticeship coach

You have access to an apprenticeship coach who will be an experienced operational prison officer.

You will regularly meet your apprenticeship coach to check your progress and ensure you are supported throughout the apprenticeship programme.

The Gateway

After one year you will be eligible for the Gateway.

The Gateway refers to the standard requirement that needs to be met before you start the end point assessment (EPA).

At this stage, you’ll need to have completed a learning portfolio and be at the required level to undertake your English and Maths functional skills.

You will have discussions with your line manager and apprenticeship coach to see if you are ready to pass through the Gateway.

End point assessment (EPA)

This will take place within 3 months after passing through the Gateway.

The EPA consists of 2 parts (a project and a professional discussion) and must be passed to complete the apprenticeship.

The professional discussion makes up the bulk (71%) of the end point assessment. It will last between 90 -120 minutes and mainly consist of a small panel asking about scenario-based prison officer questions that will be linked to your portfolio of work.

The remainder of the end point assessment (29%) consists of a 1,500 word project report that will be marked by a 3rd party assessor.

Completing your apprenticeship

When you pass the end point assessment you will have completed your Level 3 Custody and Detention Officer apprenticeship.

You will be invited to a graduation ceremony to celebrate your success with your fellow apprentices.

You have now completed your apprenticeship but this is only the beginning of your prison officer career. There will be lots of opportunities for you to continue to learn and progress.

Top questions about the apprenticeship

Are apprenticeships only for young people or school leavers?

No. An apprenticeship is an enhanced programme of work-based learning for people of all ages who want to be a highly trained and professional prison officer.

The Custody and Detention apprenticeship programme offers prison officers a new approach to training and development throughout your first 12 months. This includes support from an apprenticeship coach and opportunities to reflect and build on your skills and knowledge – getting your career off to the best possible start.

How long does the programme take to complete?

The prison officer apprenticeship typically takes 12 – 18 months but will be completed at your own pace and we will ensure you are fully supported throughout the programme,

How do you apply for the apprenticeship programme?

The choice to enrol onto the apprenticeship programme will be yours to make. You will be guided through the application process throughout the recruitment journey, receiving all necessary information to inform your decision making.

What is the style of learning?

You will learn a range of modules. These will be delivered by online, self-paced learning supported by face-to-face sessions with your apprenticeship coach. You will also have the opportunity to apply your learning on-the-job.

Where will training take place?

At the start of your apprenticeship you will complete an seven week foundation course at a dedicated learning centre, followed by one week consolidation at your home establishment. The purpose of this course is to teach you the essential skills you need for the role of a prison officer.

Following this your training will be mainly based in your ‘home’ prison location.

You’ll receive support from your apprenticeship coach and benefit from taking part in group sessions to discuss the expert skills you have learned.