Pilots giving communities a say over learning

21 May 2012

The Community Learning Trusts pilot scheme will work with local people and local organisations to develop proposals to help shape community learning in England. Applications closed on Friday 25 May.

The Government is planning to select between ten and fifteen pilots to begin work in August. NIACE will support the pilot trusts as they test this way of working with their communities. Organisations such as adult education services and FE colleges that are funded from the Skills Funding Agency’s £210 million annual Community Learning budget are invited to prepare their applications in collaboration with local community organisations, businesses and services.

All the pilots will be expected to develop a robust income generation strategy and show how local people are taking a lead. This is an opportunity for people involved in volunteering, learning clubs, informal learning at work and online learning, as well as more structured learning, to be part of their local application to become a trust.

Skills Minister John Hayes, launching the prospectus for Community Learning Trust pilots, said:

“Learning is not just for people and communities, it belongs to them and must answer to them for its success or failure. It’s time for local people to have a more powerful voice in local learning.”

“Our community learning trust pilots will give people that voice and the chance to discuss, design – and in some cases deliver – the kind of learning they want. These pilots will liberate community learning from top-down bureaucratic controls and give it a new direction, based on what people tell us. I hope that in time all communities will have more power over their local learning.”

Mark Ravenhall, NIACE Director of Policy and Impact, said:

“NIACE is pleased that government understands the value of and is committed to supporting community learning. We strongly support a vision that empowers local people and their communities to make decisions working alongside adult educators. This approach is well researched and, as we saw during a consultation phase which involved thousands of people, of great interest to the general public.”