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Creating Learning Cultures

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1. Introduction
1.1 This is the second report of the National Advisory Group for Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning.(1) It comprises advice to the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, who requested that the Group consider the following issues:


the contribution of lifelong learning to community development and capacity building, including the role of the Adult and Community Learning Fund;
the identification and promotion of means by which we can open up access to learning for those adults currently least engaged with the education system;
measures to stimulate and broaden demand for learning from mature adults, particularly from under-represented groups; and
identifying and disseminating practical examples of effective partnerships for the effective planning and delivery of lifelong learning locally.(2)
1.2 The advice supplements the Group's initial response to The Learning Age(3) the government's green paper on lifelong learning in England, which we forwarded to the Secretary of State in May 1998. That green paper elicited some three thousand submissions from individuals and organisations and our second report aims to complement the Government's own response to that consultation.

1.3 We tackled the four issues raised by the Secretary of State in small working groups drawn from the Group's membership. This resulted in the production of a number of working papers, which we have drawn upon in constructing our report. We are making copies of the working papers available, even though they do not themselves directly constitute our advice.(4)

1.4 Our report takes the following form. After this introduction, Section Two begins with a brief review of progress with the government's lifelong learning agenda since the publication of The Learning Age. We suggest ways in which initiatives and achievements to date can be signalled more clearly and consolidated. This is followed, in Section Three, by a brief consideration of the main dimensions of contemporary social and cultural change, indicating how the development of cultures of learning need to relate to such changes. Section Four centres on the demand for lifelong learning and how it might best be both increased and widened, a continuing and central challenge for the whole of the government's strategy. The next part of our report, Section Five, looks at some of the implications of the current operation of the benefits system for the development of lifelong learning. Section Six is concerned with family learning and Section Seven deals with citizenship and capacity building. In Section Eight, we explore the ways in which effective partnerships can support the expansion of lifelong learning and in Section Nine we make some suggestions for further work.

1.5 Overall, we make eight key recommendations (KRs) and twenty-three supplementary recommendations (SRs) in support of our main arguments. For ease of reference, key recommendations are in bold and supplementary recommendations are in italics.

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1 The Group's first report, Learning for the Twenty-first Century, was published by the DfEE in November 1997. See Appendix A for the terms of reference and membership of the Group.
2 See Appendix B for the full text of the Secretary of State's request to the Group.
3 Cm 3790, February 1998.
4 See Appendix C for a list of the working papers and how to obtain copies of them.

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