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Paul Mackney from NIACE talks exclusively to FE News

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Paul Mackney, associate director of Further Education for NIACE, has told FE News about his call to the Government to listen more to adult learners.

Speaking at what is likely to be his last Association of Colleges conference last week, because of his retirement next year, Mr Mackney said: "It’s an exciting but also quite frightening time. The recession has made the Government rethink a lot of its assumptions. It has to be said the Leitch Report is under severe question, not for its analysis of the problems, but for its prescription for the solutions.

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He continued: "We’ve been concerned because a large number of adult education courses have been cut, or lost is perhaps a more accurate description, in the past few years. So over the last two years, there have been almost 1.5 million adult course places which have gone, and one of the points we wanted to get across here is to say that actually there’s a lot of value which is being lost there, and there’s a danger if it continues like that."

Mr Mackney also told FE News about the need ensure staff disability equality in the sector. He said: "The other key thing that I’m here for is staff disability and quality in lifelong learning. There was a NIACE-funded commission of inquiry, which was called the Commission for disabled staff in lifelong learning, which did a report which came out earlier this year.

"One of the recommendations was that Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), the sector skills council for this sector, would set up a implementation group."

Mr Mackney now chairs the new group, and is calling for education leaders to sign up to the organisation’s disability equality commitment, because he believes whilst Further Education has "often been very good in terms of looking at its provision for students, actually it hasn’t been very good at looking at what are called in the law ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled staff."

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