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Lifelong learning must join divisions between pre-16 and post-16 learning to succeed


A comment in todays Guardian newspaper highlights the problem in fulfilling the government's dream of lifelong learning. The fact is that the organisation of pre-16 and post-16 learning are completely separate, despite the fact they are intrinsically linked. For example, the minister for Lifelong Learning has no responsibilities for pre-16 learning at all.

There is evidence to suggest that what happens to learners before the age of 16 has a profound effect on their future learning. The fact that under 16s are constantly tested means that an emphasis is placed on passing tests rather than learning.

At a recent conference at the Institute of Education, entitled Creating lifelong learners: a new and inclusive vision, the discussion was directed around bringing about a more inclusive view of learning, and changing the focus from overcoming failure to building young people's confidence in themselves as learners from a very early age.

The Institute has called for a flexible system of assessment for 14-19-year-olds to replace GCSEs. Dr Ken Spours, senior lecturer at the Institute: "...anyone leaving without five passes at grades A to C is branded a failure and feels severely demotivated.."

Conference adviser Dr Ann Hodgson said: "The goal must be to build learning strategies and assessment systems that will motivate young people to want to go on learning."

At the end of the conference, The key messages from the conference are being forwarded in the form of a position statement which will be sent to ministers and policy-makers.

The Institute's Lifelong Learning Group has been set up to look at ways of improving levels of participation and attainment and overcoming the divisions between academic and vocational learning.


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