We had an introduction, then we were shown around one of the (empty) cell blocks, not quite the palaces the Daily Mail make them out to be. We went on a tour of the education department, visiting an art class, a gym, an ICT class, a Business Studies class and an induction assessment, where the inmates are assessed as to their academic abilities.
To say it's different from a school is an understatment, they often learn at a very basic level, but much of it is hands on learning, they run motor mechanic and brick laying courses. The lads we encountered in art and the gym just stared at us (well at the girls!), but in the ICT and Business classes they were in much smaller groups and we were able to see them working and engage with them. They ask a lot of questions and won't give up without an answer. They all have to do classes, but can choose subjects, the idea being to educate them so they can get a job on release, sadly there is around a 65% reoffending rate.
We got to meet Michael Shields, the celebrity within the prison, the difference between him and the other inmates was astounding, he was sat quietly, doing his induction and trying not to be noticed. We did get introduced to him, and from talking to him, he really didn't seem like the type to be there.
P.S at no point during the visit were we searched, we had to put our phones in a locker, and we were supervised going round, but there were a couple of times I could have slipped an inmate a bag of weed whilst the teacher's back was turned.