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£9M BOOST FOR ADULT EDUCATION IN ENGLAND

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Lifelong learning minister George Mudie has announced a new funding ...
Lifelong learning minister George Mudie has announced a new funding

package for adult education. The£9m cash boost will reverse years of

decline giving local authorities the scope to widen participation in

adult education by developing Lifelong Learning Development Plans.

Mr Mudie said:

'The new funding will give local authorities fresh scope to bring

adult education up to date. I want to see all local authorities - not

just some of our better local education authorities such as

Manchester, Birmingham or Cornwall - using this new resource

imaginatively to open up local opportunities to local people. New

government funding for adult and community learning provides an

historic opportunity for local authorities to open up new ways of

learning to their local constituents.'

The minister stressed that the local authorities might do more to:

- use local community centres or schools for family learning to bring

learning closer to where people live

- work together with local voluntary groups to provide adult literacy

lessons to those from disadvantaged estates

- use new technology to bring IT skill classes to cyber cafes and

village halls

Mr Mudie said:

'During the next financial year we will be making£9m available for

adult education through the Standards Fund. More funds will be

available over the following two years to help local authorities

implement their development plans. This is new money on top of what

LEAs already spend on adult education.

'We expect local authorities to use this money not only to develop

adult education services but to get the whole authority - the library

service, economic regeneration services, social services, and other

local services - working with its partners in further education

colleges, TECS, community organisations and others, to develop

innovative strategies for lifelong learning in their communities.

'Local authorities will need to develop Lifelong Learning Development

Plans setting targets to widen participation and improve standards in

adult education. They should dovetail with those of local authorities

for the education of children, to ensure a truly comprehensive

approach to learning through life for all.'

'The funding can also be used to help implement the plans - for

example by setting up lifelong learning networks together with local

partners, to pay for staff to co-ordinate activity to put the plans

into action, and to improve local services. We will be working with

local authorities to develop baseline information to support this

work. With a positive response from local authorities, I am confident

that over the next three years we will see a much greater emphasis on

community based learning for people of all ages in line with the

Government,s aim to support local authorities in improving local

services and accountability to the local community.'

Education and employment secretary David Blunkett said:

'This new initiative is part of the government's widerstrategy for

community learning. Together with the Adult and Community Learning

Fund, the New Deal for Communities, the work of the new Policy Action

Team on the skills of adult residents of disadvantaged

neighbourhoods, the Community Access to Learning Fund, and our plans

to widen participation in further and higher education we have put in

place a strong, coherent package of measures that will help achieve

the vision of a learning society we set out in 'The Learning Age'.'

NOTES

1. Lifelong Learning Development Plans will need to set out targets

and plans for widening participation in, promoting quality in adult

learning, and the measures local authorities will be taking to

develop links across the authority between key services such as adult

education and the library service. Funding can also be used for

supporting measures to build capacity in local authority adult

education services. Funding is intended in part to help local

authorities make use of the range of government funding available for

adult learning and to play their full part in local learning

partnerships.

2. The plans are being funded through a new Standards Fund grant and

funding will be on a 50/50 matched basis with local authorities and

allocated according to the size of local population. Local

authorities have until mid February to put in an action plan setting

out how they intend to develop and implement Lifelong Learning

Development Plans. Full guidance about the plans will be issued by

the department in October. Local authorities will be encouraged to

develop their Lifelong Learning Development Plans alongside other

relevant plans such as Education Development Plans.

3. The DfEE's national audit of local authority adult education will

take place early next year. It will enable local authorities as well

as national government to take stock of current practice and serve as

a baseline against future progress can be measured. Local authorities

will also be encouraged to use OFSTED's Framework for Inspection as a

means of evaluating adult education and to use the criteria

successfully employed by OFSTED in its inspections of adult

education, as a way of monitoring performance on a regular basis.

4. On 15 September, the prime minister launched a cross cutting

report on England's most socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The

report recommended the establishment of 18 Policy Action Teams to

address the issues raised. One of these will be concerned with the

skills of adult residents in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The team

will deliver its final report in July 1999.

5. Community Access to Lifelong learning is of three new initiatives

announced by the prime minister under the lottery. The three will share an extra£400m from the lottery's New Opportunities fund. DCMS will consult the public for their views shortly. The Community Access initiative will help provide a step-change in access to lifelong learning, in particular by providing IT learning centres for the University for Industry, by linking up the National Grid for Learning and local libraries, and helping to bring adults back into learning.

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