City Lit Blog

Week of Activity – Love Our Colleges

Story added 13th May 2019



This week (13-17 May) will see heightened interest and activity in the Love Our Colleges campaign, with colleges encouraged to engage their local MPs, staff, students and local business partners to demonstrate why the Chancellor should ensure meaningful and sustainable investment of colleges in his Comprehensive Spending Review.

The Love Our Colleges campaign is a brilliant opportunity to inform politicians on the importance of Colleges, their staff, teaching and the invaluable support offered up and down the country. However, whilst noise created by these campaigns and the media recognition and coverage is invaluable, so too are the ongoing discussions that I and my colleagues within the sector are having with a range of important stakeholders across the political spectrum.

For those unsure of what City Lit or in fact what adult education can offer, we hope it is recognised that lifelong learning is proven to be highly beneficial in work and life – enriching people’s lives, developing resilience and learning new skills. It is important for everyone, whatever their age or stage in life, to be encouraged, supported and enabled to develop the skills that will contribute to the London economy.  Adult education has a crucial role to play in delivering that.  Since we opened in 1919, City Lit has been offering a broad range of courses and learning opportunities to provide individuals with the knowledge, skills and adaptability to progress in their careers and in society.  

The outcomes from learning are many and varied, but universally positive.  As well as enabling employability skills, the experience of learning in the welcoming, social settings we provide is proven to be effective in combatting loneliness and contributing to mental and physical wellbeing, confidence, motivation and sense of purpose, and participation within the community more broadly. Adult learning has a proven track record of creating opportunities out of challenges.  According to UNESCO, adult learning is ‘one of the keys of the twenty-first century’.  

With our population growing at a faster rate than ever. With people are living longer and staying healthy for longer, and the over 65s will outnumber the under 16s in London by 2035.  In turn, people are working longer, changing jobs and careers more and retiring later.  Therefore, we should look to challenge the perception that education only happens at the start of your life, and that the skills developed then will be sufficient throughout your career or working life.   Adult education colleges provide access to education that overcomes the barriers that adults tell us deter them from continuing to learn – evening and weekend opportunities for those who work; easily accessible courses for the self-employed and gig economy workers who do not have access to staff development programmes; as well as providing a welcoming, adult learning environment for upskilling, developing new skills and improving confidence and resilience.

In the work I have lead for City Lit – in talking to politicians; policy makers; civil servants; and the team at the City Hall – I have consistently been looking to ensure it is understood that: to deliver the skills needed, it is vital that we challenge any misconception that education is what you receive as a one-off, early in life, and instead champion lifelong learning to meet the needs, interests and ambitions of Londoners.

Phil Chamberlain, Executive Director External Engagement at City Lit


The Love Our Colleges campaign is a partnership between Association of Colleges (AoC), National Union of Students (NUS), Association of College and School Leaders (ASCL), University and Colleges Union (UCU), Unison, GMB, TUC and National Education Union (NEU).

Watch the video: LoveOurColleges 2019