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Paper 6 - 26 March 1999 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

26 March 1999

HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL CONFERENCE ON LIFELONG LEARNING

Report by the Director of Arts, Countryside and Community, Hampshire County Council

RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended that the report be noted, and the outcomes of the Conference are taken forward by the key partners involved.

SUMMARY

1. This report summarises the initiatives undertaken by Hampshire County Council over the last twelve months to develop innovative thinking about Lifelong Learning.

2. In particular, it provides a report on a Conference convened by Hampshire County Council on 26 January 1999 which brought together all the key stakeholders and partners with an interest in Lifelong Learning.

3. The key conclusions are the need for a very wide ranging definition of Lifelong Learning, the importance of increasing participation across all ages and abilities, meeting the needs of the rapidly increasing retired population and utilising partnership working to the maximum.

INTRODUCTION

In November 1997, Hampshire County Council brought together a cross-departmental Lifelong Learning officer group comprising representatives from Education, Libraries, Archives, Arts, Museums, Countryside and Environment, Sport, Adult Learning, Social Services, the Youth Service and Economic Development. Their purpose was to take a fresh look at what we meant by 'learning', both to develop new initiatives for Hampshire County Council and to respond to government proposals in this area.

In early 1998, the government produced its Green Paper "The Learning Age" with its various initiatives relating to the University for Industry, and Individual Learning Accounts (and new Library Network). With the help of the cross-departmental group, the County Council was able to make a comprehensive response to the government's strategy, which was strong on vision and relatively weak on detail and resourcing.

Subsequently the government gave the opportunity for local authorities to apply to the DfEE Standards Fund for funding for Lifelong Learning Development Plans. With the work already done by the corporate group, the County Council was well placed to submit its application for the initial tranche of funding by the end of January 1999. The response to our bid is awaited.

A key milestone in this process was a Conference to bring together all the key partners and stakeholders with an interest in the development of Lifelong Learning in Hampshire. This was duly held on 26 January 1999 at Horndean Community School.

CONFERENCE REPORT

(a) Overall Response

The Conference was an outstanding success. It had a capacity participation of 130 delegates who in the subsequent evaluation gave extremely positive feedback. The general view was that Hampshire County Council had grasped the key issues involved and had understood the vital point that Lifelong Learning was something which was much wider than traditional education and would thrive on good partnership working.

(b) Definition of Lifelong Learning

It was important at the outset to establish a working definition. Accordingly, the following list was produced to establish a framework:

all education in schools and colleges, including out-of-school activities and nurseries;

planned family learning, inside or outside schools, including that for under 5s;

parenting education;

structured opportunities to reflect on the arts in their widest sense as well as courses to gain artistic skills;

community work and community development;

the use of library services resources and the imminent development of electronic networks, the new National Grid for Learning and the New Library Network;

access to museums and their therefore interpretative facilities such as Hampshire County Council's SEARCH resource at Gosport;

discovering local history with the help of the County Record Office;

on-the-job learning in the workplace or non-job related employee development;

activities in social services day centres;

training for volunteering;

work with young people, especially disaffected young adults;

voluntary work;

sports development through coaching courses

outdoor activities;

all other forms of planned or self-directed adult learning.

(c) Inputs from Speakers

The Conference was able to have the two key national experts on the subject. Firstly, we had Bill Lucas, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Learning. He particularly emhasised two points. Firstly, he argued very strongly for the kind of wider definition of learning which we were articulating. Secondly, he was convinced that there was a fundamental need for a change in mind set about the processes of learning. Sadly, for a large portion of the population, learning stopped at the point they had left the conventional education system (if it had not already stopped before that point). The Campaign for Learning was in the process of identifying certain local authorities as 'learning local authorities'. He identified Hampshire County Council as one of those and invited us to participate in pilot innovative projects on Lifelong Learning. A working agreement has been concluded with the Campaign for Learning to this end.

The other main speaker was Professor Bob Fryer, Director of the New College, Southampton and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Southampton University. He is the government's Chief Advisor on Lifelong Learning and the author of "The Learning Age". He, likewise, understood the need for radical and innovative thinking about learning, linking it to the crucial need to supply to the economy a workforce that may need to retrain a number of times during a conventional working life. That ability to retrain and develop new skills would only come out of an increased thirst for learning.

d) Group Discussion

A considerable part of the day was devoted to group discussions with facilitators provided by Hampshire Training and Enterprise Council, colleges and community schools, the Library Service, the Youth Service, the Education Department and the Campaign for Learning. The main issues arising from these discussions were:

the need to maintain the momentum on developing ideas about Lifelong learning across the County;

the importance of fostering a true sense of partnership in a situation where colleges and other providers were often in competition;

the requirement to constantly improve the quality of information available to the public about learning opportunities;

the opportunities for using IT (through the Internet and otherwise) need to exploit to the full the developing IT network within the libraries.

NEXT STEPS

A plan for taking the outcomes forward is already being developed with the help of the working group and an external consultant. Once the funding from DfEE is confirmed, this can be implemented. There is likely to be an opportunity for a fuller briefing on the subject at the HIOWLA meeting in June.

EWART WOOLDRIDGE
Director of Arts, Countryside and Community
Hampshire County Council

Last update: 10/10/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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