A LIFE BEHIND BARS IS NOT FOR US
AS THEY filed in quietly past the drugs dog, the reality of prison life hit hard.
Grey clouds hung in the air and tiny droplets of rain fell on to their uniforms as 20 pupils from Endeavour School walked into the outside courtyard at Hull Prison.
Barbed wired fences completed the bleak scene as the pupils took in the surroundings.
The youngsters were taking part in a new Hull Children's University module designed to guide them away from a life behind bars.
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They were at the jail to hear from two serving prisoners about how their crimes have torn their lives apart.
The two prisoners, Mike and Ben, had given up their lunch to make sure the pupils from Endeavour heard their stories.
Mike told them he had three-year-old twins he would not be able to spend Christmas with because of his actions.
He said: "I was attacked in a pub and I went too far. Now I am here.
"It was stupid. I had a couple of beers and got 15 months.
"I was on bail for 11 months. Then everything was taken away from me. The knock-on effects it has had on my family is massive."
Ben, 25, is serving a four-year stretch after being convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
He told the pupils: "I was on a night out, did something stupid and I ended up here.
"I never had a chance to tell my family. I was remanded, brought straight here and I have been here for eight months.
"I have two children and a stepson.
"I had my own business and all that is in tatters now.
"I have 16 months left to serve – that is two more Christmases away from my kids."
Pupils listened and asked questions about food, the cells and clothes.
They learned prisoners are locked up for 18 hours a day.
They wear prison-issue clothes and have to use a toilet in their cells.
Corey Houghton, 12, said: "It has made me think.
"It is really bad, I just didn't expect it.
"I'm a bit frightened of going to jail."
After speaking to Mike and Ben, pupils were taken through to D Wing of the prison and shown in a typical cell.
Cramped, with two beds, a toilet and only a tiny window, they were unimpressed.
Kyle Sarvant, 12, said: "It's disgusting. They have to go to the loo and eat in the same place."
John Buttrick, director of Hull Children's University, is behind the module.
He wanted children to be aware of the consequences of their actions.
Working with the Prison Service, he put together a hard-hitting , structured module which is aimed at turning youngsters away from a life of crime.
He said: "I needed to find a solution to impress upon young people that crime or a drug-ridden existence which can lead to a life in prison just isn't the correct choice in life."
In the first part of the module, pupils heard testimonies from serving prisoners at the category A Wakefield Prison.
The prisoners were transported for the day to the Beverley Road school.
Mr Buttrick said: "Listening to prisoners' stories in their classroom I though would make an impact, as they heard about their deep regret and remorse.
"Observing the young people as the prisoners told their respective tragedies, I sensed that this was definitely making a huge impact."
Mr Buttrick said taking the pupils to the prison was not about shocking them but designed to educate them.
He said: "It was not to instil fear but to make them aware, first hand, that it's not a pleasant existence.
"The youngsters' body language as they questioned two young inmates suggested that this real, raw yet powerful experience was getting through.
"The inmates revealed just how a moment of madness can lead to years of imprisonment.
"Their walk through the cell corridors added that final message that this chill, stark, eerie, somewhat sinister environment is not an atmosphere that one would choose for a day, let alone months, years, decades.
"What an absolute waste of life that would be and it makes me utterly devastated that any of the kids I've been with this past week would ever choose such an option. If we've saved just one child from choosing the road to ruin, it will have been worth it.
"Something different had to be tried and we think this has worked. After all it's about choices in life and I feel now that these kids are better equipped to make the right ones."
Ayazullah Ullah, 13, said the prison visit gave him pause for thought. He said: "I want to work in the prison when I am older, not be in it.
"When the two prisoners came to our school it made me think. I know right from wrong. I would not want to be in a place like this.
"Who wants to live in an environment like that?"