As there is no systematic way of identifying children of prisoners in the UK, it is likely that you may not know who is a child of a prisoner in your cohort of students.

Pre-application and research phase

There are an estimated 312,000 children of prisoners in the UK and they are often described as 'invisible'. 

Students may be willing to self-disclose if you discuss contextual factors considered when universities review applications. Explaining that certain characteristics, which are often linked to education disruption and disadvantage, such as being in care, being a military child, or being the child of a prisoner, is important contextual information.

Disclosing they are a child of a prisoner on their UCAS application will not disadvantage them, but instead give the provider a fuller picture of their circumstances. 

When they’re applying

If you're aware a student is the child of a prisoner, or a student tells you themselves, you can discuss how they can disclose their experience on their UCAS application.

They may want to use the personal statement to discuss how being a student with an imprisoned parent/parents has impacted their education. No student’s experience is the same but common experiences include having to take time off school to visit parents in prison, having to move home and move school, losing a primary caregiver or changing primary caregiver.      

They may have felt isolated or stigmatised at school, and their parent’s imprisonment might have negatively impacted their mental health.

You may also want to include this information in their UCAS reference. Make sure to discuss the student’s individual situation, the impact their parent/s imprisonment has had on them, and if they are happy for you to disclose this. 

Further guidance

If a student discloses they are the child of a prisoner, the National Information Centre of Children of Offenders (NICCO’s) website has a number of resources you might find useful to support them.