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New NIACE Conference looks to Adult Learning’s Uncertain Future

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) have organised a conference that will allow educators to debate the future of adult learning in the wake of the Foster report.

The Foster, Funding and the Future of Adult Learning Conference, held in Leicester on the 13th of January, aimed to bring people from across the sector together to discuss ways forward.


While NIACE acknowledge that the Foster report recognised the importance of further education, they believe that Sir Andrew Foster failed to fully appreciate the role colleges play in widening participation. They argue that government policy places too much emphasis on basic skills and first level 2 qualifications, and neglects other forms of adult learning.

Colin Flint, NIACE Associate Director of Further Education, believes it is vital that people working in the adult learning sector are given the chance to voice their concerns. “The narrow focus of current Government strategies does not meet the great range of needs of all adult learners. The effect of a projected million adult learners lost by 2007/8 has not been considered. Who will be listening to their voices?” he said.

Effective Strategies

“This conference will address the current concerns of those working in adult education and explore effective strategies that educators can take,” he continued. “This challenge could be met by partnerships and links being developed across the adult learning landscape so that learners of every age can be offered opportunities to learn and develop skills of all kinds.”

Speakers at the conference included Chris Hughes, Chair of Committee of Enquiry into Adult Learning in Colleges; Maggie Galliers, Principal of Leicester College; Marion Plant, Principal of North Warwickshire and Hinckley College; Donald Rae, Assistant Chief Education Officer, Derbyshire County Council; and Carole Stott, Director of Credit Works.

Joe Paget

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