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Vocalise operates on an academic-year timetable. Successful applicants are trained as debate mentors from December in preparation for teaching in prisons from February onwards.

 It’s great that we get a chance to really challenge ourselves.


If accepted onto the Vocalise programme, you will need to attend one class per week for six weeks, starting in early December. Classes are an hour long, and held on Monday evenings at Gray’s Inn (a two minute walk from Chancery Lane tube station), or online on Wednesday evenings.

These lessons will teach you two things:

  1. How to do debate formally – the rules, format, advocacy skills, and thinking on your feet.
  2. How to teach others; in particular, how to teach in a prison environment.

You will be coached in these skills by our directors, all of whom were mentors in the past and know the process well.

After your six training sessions, you will sit an exam called ‘bootcamp’, where you will teach a group of students roleplaying a prison class. You must pass bootcamp before teaching prison classes.

Teaching & Prisons

From February onwards, you will be asked to sign up to teach at least one ‘cycle’. A cycle is a period of four+ weeks in which you will teach once per week. It may be the case that we can accommodate some mentors to undertake two half-cycles at different times of the year, but our preference is for mentors to complete a full cycle in the same prison, to ensure continuity for the prison-students.

Each class will last roughly three hours, although – depending on security – you can be at the prison site for longer. Classes will always be on a weekday, and therefore be aware that this can be a significant time commitment. Prison classes need continuity, so please do not sign up if you’re not willing to stick it out!

The range of prisons we will be working with in 2023-2024 has yet to be confirmed, but in the past has included HMP Pentonville, HMP Brixton,  HMP Thameside, HMP Downview, and HMP Feltham. This covers a wide range of prison types – mens and womens, as well as young offenders. We aim to give you a reasonable amount of choice about which prisons you will work with.

All of our prisons are based in London, and approximately no more than around an hour’s commute from Gray’s Inn.

Unfortunately, we do not have the budget to provide travel expenses, so trips to prisons will be at your own expense.

Find out more

Become A Vocalise Mentor

Information about how to become a mentor

Griffin LAW

Law and Advocacy Workshops with secondary and sixth form students

In The Guardian

Read this article in The Guardian written by Gray's Inn Vocalise mentor, Zehrah Hasan, for some insight into the benefits of debating and debate training in prisons.

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