Update from the ECA’s Vice-Chairman

The ECA was represented at the annual National Forum of the Lifelong Learning Networks (LLN) by Vice-Chairman, Chris Minter, and Jill Ward, who is Director of the Staffordshire/ Stoke on Trent/ Shropshire/Telford & Wrekin LLN.

The after-dinner speaker on the 17th November was Sir Howard Newby. Sir Howard launched the LLN back in 2004 and is now the Vice-Chancellor of Liverpool University. In his speech, Sir Howard outlined the origins of the LLN concept and underlined its importance in the current policy context.

The original spark for the LLN came from Wisconsin in the USA and was all about progression through a series of institutions. This progression could take learners all the way from having no qualifications up to PhD standard. Whilst in England the LLN concept is voluntary and depends on the local partnerships they have to include at least one research intensive university. Sir Howard made a call for LLN to provide the evidence from their success in order to secure future funding and I’m sure that the ECA, since many of our members are also members of their local LLN, would echo and support that development.

The ECA shares the passion of LLN for the progression of learners through all kinds of formal and informal learning up to the highest standards of academic research. Small and medium centres, many set up for purposes other than purely educational, play an important part in widening the participation championed by the LLN and often help to support adult learners when they face the challenges posed by attending FE or HE institutions which can feel set up for the benefit of those under 25 who study full-time.

As an Association we have rightly focused on the informal side of adult learning in our support for the Learning Revolution but I hope that we remember our commitment to working in collaboration with FE and HE for the benefit of learners. Historically there have many barriers to this ‘seamless’ progression through the learning and skills sector but our participation in LLN and with Credit Framework projects like the EQF are both practical ways in which ECA members can champion the role of centres in this important national agenda.

For further details of the ECA's current work on the EQF project Flexi-Path please click here

By Chris Minter

Date Added: November 26th 2009