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Sector News, 14 - 18 September 2009

Lifelong learning inquiry proposes radical reforms. Education Guardian, 15 September 2009.

More on the impending publication of Niace’s “Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning”.   Tom Schuller, director of the inquiry, says that the importance of the report will lie in the way it brings all the various strands together, for example beneficial themes such as social cohesion, combating poverty and crime.  The Inquiry will show how much is spent on lifelong learning and will insist that the balance between pre and post 25 year olds must change as the population ages.  Niace calls for a high-level commission to monitor and track how investment across the age sectors is progressing.  They also propose resurrecting individual learner accounts.

Government accused of ignoring need for learning beyond work.  THE, 17 September 2009.

THE reports that the Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning shows that educational opportunities for older people are shrinking.  The report claims that unfair rules on funding and conflicting government policies are seriously affecting efforts to provide education to people of all ages.  A strategic framework for the next 10 to 15 years is outlined.  Amongst the demands are that a single central government department be created for lifelong learning with a Cabinet committee responsible for monitoring cross government targets.  Universities are asked to set up a simple system of credit accumulation which will follow people throughout their lives.   Adult learning spends £55 billion, almost 4 per cent of the UK’s gross domestic product, of which £26 billion comes from the public purse.  However, 65 per cent is spent on higher education with three quarters of this going to under 25s.

Unfair, misplaced vitriol.  THE, 17 September 2009.

Opinion, Sally Feldman, dean of the School of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster.

Sally Feldman makes the point that media affects all our lives and shapes our thinking.  Both the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics are amongst those who do not accept A level media studies as a serious academic subject, a view shared by 30 per cent of universities.  The Government’s own analysis of graduate destinations shows that more than 70 per cent of media graduates enter employment, compared with 56 per cent of English and 53 per cent in history.  With such weighty evidence, Sally fails to understand why there is so much vitriol poured on the world's most pervasive and influential cultural phenomenon.

Major articles in this week's THE:

"The Seven deadly sins of the academy".  “Matthew Reisz and seven guest contributors lift the lid on the rampant wickedness troubling sanctity of our hallowed universities.”  Working on a theme of the inward looking atmosphere of universities, the article comprises an introduction to the issues and then specific items on, "Sartorial inelegance", “Procrastination”, “Snobbery”, “Lust”, “Arrogance”, “Complacency” and "Pedantry".

A breath of fresh air.”  Jonathan Bates discusses how Romantics laid the foundation of modern ecocriticism.

Objectionable content”.  Gerald Houseman concludes that there should never be an Ayn Rand revival.   "Ayn Rand created the Objectivists movement, asserting that there are objective truths and rules of human conduct derived from reason and the terms of self interest." 

Lib Dems will ring-fence education cash, claims Clegg.  TES, 18 September 2009.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg says that he will go further than either the Tories or Labour and guarantee that spending on education will continue at current levels.

Cuts threaten to derail dyslexia scheme.  TES, 18 September 2009.

Course created to make 4,000 teachers dyslexia specialists are likely to be scrapped because of the recession.  The scheme, targeted at school teachers, will probably only run for two years and those running the courses say that they do not expect any more money to be available.

Report calls for £3bn for older students.  (Leader) TES, FE Focus, 18 September 2009.

AS with other newspapers, the TES also reports on the publication of the Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning.  They note that £3 billion of adult education funding should be transferred to students later in life.  The chair of the inquiry says that this not a proposal for extra funding, but for re-distribution.

3,000 sixth form places at risk as college goes ‘bust’.  TES, FE Focus, 18 September 2009.

Brooklands College in Surrey has been crippled by more than £11 million costs for its merger plans.  Brooklands is in discussion with the LSC in an attempt to obtain funding to avoid outright bankruptcy after the college had been encouraged to merge and then denied funds.

Colleges would expand under us, claim Liberal Democrats.  TES, FE Focus, 18 September 2009.

Increasing the role of further education across the spectrum, is the promise made by the Lib. Dems.  The party wants to see an increase in all aspects of further education from 14-19 to higher education.  They further state that schools should not automatically expect to be 11 – 18, and pupils at 14 should be able to make the choice to break from the school system.  Funding, amounting to around £1.1 billion, will be obtained by scrapping the Government’s temporary cut in VAT and transferring funds from the Train to Gain scheme.

A case for adult learning in all shapes and sizes. TES, FE Focus, 18 September 2009.

Following the leader (above), the TES gives more detail about the content of the Lifelong Learning Inquiry.  In keeping with other newspapers, they report on the rapid fall of educational opportunity for adults and claim that the Government has funded education as though it is only for the young.  As well as the discussion, the paper publishes some of the report's recommendations namely:

  • a four stage age related model  for lifelong learning,
  • rebalancing of funding,
  • enhanced training for 50 to 75 year olds,
  • making 75 the end of working age,
  • a legal right to free literacy and numeracy training,
  • entitlement through learning accounts,
  • transferable credit system,
  • provision of a citizen’s curriculum,
  • local authorities to have a strategic role in planning,
  • creation of one government department to lead on cross-departmental issues,
  • provision of birthday bonuses every decade to top up personal learning accounts.

The report can be accessed using the link: inquiry report, and a summary of the recommendations through the link; summary

Let’s leave ‘learner’ tag to the buzzword brigade.  TES, FE Focus, 18 September 2009.

Sheila Dainton, branch secretary, Workers Educational Association (Petersfield), disagrees with the use of the word ‘learner’.  Nobody seems to know why the word has caught on so well, putting it down to a fad, or perhaps more likely because of the target setting culture.  Yet others believe that it is “A middle class ploy to avoid obvious links between learning, earning, rolling your sleeves up and getting your hands dirty”.  Whatever the reason, Sheila wants the term removed, she believes that the over use of the word 'learning' prevents serious discussion about the nature and purpose of lifelong learning.