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“Crucial role of Lifelong Learning Partnerships”


27 October 1999

Education and Employment Minister Baroness Blackstone today set out the Government’s vision of learning partnerships in responding to local learning needs and acting as a forum for delivering lifelong learning.

Speaking at a national conference for Lifelong Learning Partnerships, at the Business Design Centre in London, Baroness Blackstone said:

"This Government is committed to a ‘learning society’ in which everyone expects to be engaged in learning throughout life and everyone has the chance to develop their potential.
"There are two key roles for Learning Partnerships. Firstly, they will reach out into local communities and find out what local learning and skill needs really are. They will be able to provide the new local Learning and Skills Councils with invaluable information and advice on individuals’ and employers’ needs.

"Secondly, Learning Partnerships will provide a forum for collaboration enabling local providers and others to work together to ensure education and training provision is as efficient and cost-effective as possible. They can ensure that gaps in local provision are filled and that duplication is avoided by co-ordinating local curriculum planning and staff development.

"Learning Partnerships know and understand the local conditions that influence the decisions people make. They can identify local solutions to local problems and ensure that everyone, even in the most difficult areas, is encouraged and has the opportunity to participate in learning. They will work closely with Education Business Partnerships to ensure employer involvement in learning is real and effective.

"Some Learning Partnerships have already made great progress. The Wiltshire and Swindon Partnership, for example, is bringing together all the appropriate local partners to take forward the Learning Gateway model - including the police, the probation service and the Youth Service. Amongst a wide range of ideas it is developing an innovative incentives scheme to encourage disengaged young people back to learning."

Learning Partnerships have a key role in taking forward the Government’s social inclusion and regeneration agendas. Their broad objectives are to widen participation in learning, increase attainment, improve standards and meet the skills challenge.

Baroness Blackstone also confirmed that DfEE would contribute £10 million to Learning Partnerships in each of the next two years to help them fulfil their responsibilities.
1. The newly-formed network of Lifelong Learning Partnerships stems from a joint commitment by central government and the representative bodies of the FE, TEC, careers service and local government sectors to the establishment of a single strategic body in each area bringing together all existing local partnership arrangements covering post-16 and lifelong learning. The DfEE will provide the partnerships with £20m over the next two years.
2. The Lifelong Learning Partnerships network is complete in all regions bar London where a number of boundaries remain to be agreed. The number of agreed Learning Partnerships totals 100.
3. The Secretary of State David Blunkett first announced plans to ensure Lifelong Learning Partnerships were in place across the country during 1999 at an Association of Colleges conference on 26 November 1998.
4. The Learning Gateway supports those 16- and 17-year-olds who have drifted away from learning and need additional help to enter mainstream learning opportunities.


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