City Lit Blog

Adult education and lifelong learning for 21st century Britain

Story added 18th Nov 2019


A new report launching today argues that adult education and lifelong learning must be a permanent national necessity, an inseparable aspect of citizenship that is vital to addressing the huge societal divisions and challenges to democracy we currently face.

The report from the Centenary Commission on Adult Education states that Britain in 2019 faces major social, political and economic challenges –  including the climate crisis, divided communities and Artificial Intelligence.

The Centenary Commission – which includes WEA CEO Ruth Spellman, has published its findings 100 years since the publication of the landmark 1919 Report on Adult Education by the Ministry of Reconstruction’s adult education committee.

The report is issued following a dramatic decline in participation in adult education, with funding for adult learning and apprenticeships having fallen by 45 per cent in real terms since 2009-10.

The Centenary Commission report is calling for:

  • A national Adult Education & Lifelong Learning Strategy, with a participation target to reduce the gap between the most and least educationally active.
  • A Minister with specific responsibility for Adult Education and Lifelong Learning to report annually to Parliament on progress.
  • Community Learning Accounts, alongside Individual Learning Accounts to provide funding for informal, community-based learning initiatives led by local groups.

City Lit CEO and Principal Mark Malcomson CBE said; ʺWe welcome this report and the work of the Commission. We are all living and working longer and the place of adult education in society has never been more important. At a time when all political parties are considering their manifesto commitments in the run up to the general election – and some have already made bold commitments to lifelong learning and adult education – let’s hope this report is listened to and further helps to establish a culture of ‘learning for life’.ʺ

> Read more on WEA website 

> Read more on TES