New Parliamentary Group for Adult Education to be launched

 

Ruth Toby Chi

WEA Chief Executive Ruth Spellman and Scottish Widows CEO, Toby Strauss meeting Newcastle MP, Chi Onwurah

The Specialist Designated Institutions (SDIs) - City Lit, Fircroft College, Hillcroft College, the Mary Ward Centre, Morley College, Northern College, Ruskin College, the Working Men’s College and the Workers’ Educational Association - and Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central will launch a new parliamentary group for adult education next week in Newcastle.

The group has been formed to raise the profile of adult education, and in particular, the vital role it plays in providing high-quality educational provision to the most disadvantaged members of society. The group will aim to start a wider debate about the future of adult education in this country.

Ahead of the launch, Chi said:

“I’m delighted to be launching, and chairing, this new all-party parliamentary group for adult education. Learning can change people’s lives and improve not just their skills and job prospects but also their confidence and health.

“We need more opportunities and support for adults to learn throughout their lives, whatever their circumstances. Our world is constantly changing and learning helps many people to make the positive changes they need – whether it’s finding a better job or broadening cultural horizons.

“I am looking forward to working with other MPs, Lords and educational groups like the WEA – who do so much good – in exploring how we can make this happen for more people.”

The group will be established as an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) shortly after the launch. APPGs have members from all the main political parties in Parliament and the Adult Education APPG will be supported by the WEA and other specialist adult education institutions.

The launch event will be at 11am on Friday 18 September at Westgate Community College in Newcastle. Details of the event are available at http://chionwurahmp.com/2015/08/dr-miriam-stoppard-is-coming-to-newcastle/

Notes
All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Terms of Reference

Purpose/Role of the Group
• To investigate the impact of adult education on the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of the UK.
• To champion the work of the SDIs
• To raise awareness and engagement on the challenges and opportunities in Adult Education
• To share research on the impact of Adult Education on our economy and society
• To highlight the causes and consequences of educational disadvantage
• To develop appropriate policy recommendations and identify practical steps to increase the impact of adult education
• To engage a wide cross section of educators, employers, business groups, local authorities, political representatives and other relevant organisations on issues relating to adult education and its impacts

Origins
The APPG for adult education was developed by the nine Specialist Designated Institutions (SDIs): City Lit, Fircroft College, Hillcroft College, the Mary Ward Centre, Morley College, Northern College, Ruskin College, the Working Men’s College and the Workers’ Educational Association.

Created as part of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, the SDIs offer a vast range of adult education courses for over 130,000 students across Britain each year, providing educational opportunities for every community in the country.

The group has been formed to raise the profile of adult education, and in particular, the vital role it plays in providing high-quality educational provision to the most disadvantaged members of society. Our aim is to engage key stakeholders, organisations within the FE sector, parliamentarians and other major influencers in a debate about the future of adult education.

Membership
Membership will consist of a group of MPs and Lords from all sides of the house and the secretariat will be provided by the SDIs.

Working Methods
The APPG will adopt a shared learning approach which will deliver three reports and one research paper led by the WEA research department over the course of the parliament, detailing key issues and recommendations for adult education and their impacts on society.

The group will host up to three events per year. It is proposed that the group agree a subject for investigation, followed by a call for evidence, with at least one oral evidence session held each year to engage students, parliamentarians and other stakeholders in the discussion. Alongside students, speakers at these events might include other providers of adult education such as The Open University, non-SDI colleges, LEPs, employers, local authorities as well as ministers and opposition spokespeople.
A report would then be developed in consultation with the group for launch at the annual AGM.

The APPG will aim to launch in November 2015 with subsequent events in February and May and will hold these months moving forward as key target dates.

Sharing Information
WEA will facilitate the development of a web space for members which will include a secure password to share resources
Through this members will be able to share information and resources and the provision to circulate documents and aid in the organisation and support of meetings and events
The SDIs will provide joint secretariat services.

Review
The group will aim to review the relevance and value of its work and the terms of reference annually. This will ensure it is supporting its stakeholders and addressing the key areas of adult education in the most effective manner