Online Assessment Centre

This is a half day assessment, completed online. We test to see if you have the abilities, behaviours and strengths to be a prison officer. There will be short breaks in between each assessment, but not during assessments. The assessments are designed to reflect the reality of the prison officer role. Therefore, they will contain strong language and cover sensitive topics that could be potentially distressing.

Women’s Prisons Additional Assessment

For those applying to be a Prison Officer in a women’s prison, once successful at the online assessment centre you will be asked to provide written responses to three behaviour-based questions, each of which requires a 250-word answer.

These questions have been designed to explore your understanding of the Prison Officer role in a women’s prison and why you are interested in the role. For each question you will be asked to consider a situation you may face as a Prison Officer in a women’s prison.

You will be invited to complete this assessment via email and will be able to access this via the Application Centre. You will have 5 days to complete these questions and so can complete these at a time that suits you best. Further information about this assessment, what to expect and how to prepare can be found in this document.

Assessment Criteria

During the online assessment centre you will be assessed on the behaviours, strengths and abilities outlined below.


Abilities and Strengths

English and Maths - Functional Skills Check

Before any successful candidate starts their new prison officer role, we will need to ascertain what Functional Skills Level in English and Maths you currently possess. This check will not form part of pre-employment checks. It is a standard check related to any potential apprenticeship enrolment. All new prison officers starting in England from summer 2021 will be auto enrolled onto the Custody and Detention Apprenticeship so it is vital that we are able to capture what qualifications in English and Maths you currently possess. This is to ensure that the right level of Functional Skills training and support is delivered during your apprenticeship.

Functional skills are practical skills in English and Maths that allow individuals to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life and work. The level of functional skill general co-insides with the structure of the national Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) that is outlined below.

University / Higher Education


Further Education / Learning Provider

School / Sixth Form

Level 8
PhD / Doctorate
Level 7
Masters Degree
Level 6
Bachelors Degree
Level 5
Foundation Degree
Higher National Diploma
Level 4
Higher National Certificate
Higher Apprenticeship
Level 3
L3 Award, Cert., Diploma
Advanced Apprenticeship
Level 2
GCSE (Grades A*-C / 9-4)
L2 Award, Cert., Diploma
Intermediate Apprenticeship
Level 1
GCSE (Grades D-E / 3-2)
L1 Award, Cert., Diploma
Entry Level 3
National Curiculum Levels 1, 2 & 3 (GCSE Grades F-G / 2 - 1)
Entry Level 3 Certificate
Entry Level 2
Entry Level 2 Certificate
Entry Level 1
Entry Level 1 Certificate

In order to complete the Custody and Detention apprenticeship you will need to have achieved Functional Skills Level 2 in English and Maths. If you do not currently possess a qualification to evidence this level, you will be supported throughout the apprenticeship to achieve this.

Maths and English Help

Tips to help you improve your maths and english ability:

How can you evidence what English and Maths Functional Skills you already possess at online assessment centre?

  • Original Qualification Certificates - A wide range of UK and international qualification certificates can be used as evidence of English and Maths Functional Skills level. The most common example for level 2 is GCSE certificates in English and Maths (grades A* - C / 9-4). A full list of the qualifications that can be used are listed here (see embedded attachment). We are only looking for the highest English and Maths qualification. Please only provide original certificates of your highest English and Maths qualification at online Assessment Centre. If you no longer possess your original certificates you may be able to get a replacement certificate or certified statement of results from the exam board who originally issued the certification.

You can find out more about the qualifications we accept by reading this document.