Sunderland at forefront of new education project

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SUNDERLAND is set to benefit from a ground-breaking education scheme.

The city is one of only 15 partnerships across the country to have been invited to take part in the Community Learning Trusts pilot programme.

The initiative, which aims to give people more power to choose which adult learning courses are available in their area, will involve colleges, adult education services, businesses and voluntary organisations working together with their communities.

The successful pilots range from five community learning forums being set up in regeneration areas in Sunderland to a social enterprise in West Sussex which will expand the role of volunteer community champions to inspire people to get in to learning.

The pilot trusts, which started this month, work to boost participation in learning, motivate and support disadvantaged families and generate income to reinvest in education.

The move was welcomed by education and business chiefs in The North East.

Jonathan Walker, head of member relations at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is welcome news and should go some way to addressing the mismatch in skills that, unfortunately, we often see in the North East.

“The involvement of businesses in shaping courses will be vital if the training on offer is to meet the needs of local employers.”

Verity Bullough, executive director of capacity and infrastructure at the Skills Funding Agency, which finances and regulates adult further education and skills training, also welcomed the pilot trusts.

She said: “We expect to learn a great deal from these innovative pilots. They will be leading the way in showing how an inclusive, locally-based community learning offer – supported by the effective targeting of public money and income generated from other sources each pilot has identified – can positively and measurably impact on the social and economic well-being of individuals, families and communities”.

David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, which aims to encourage adults to engage in learning, said: “We are excited to be supporting and learning from these pilot Community Learning Trusts, and look forward to the ideas and processes they will formulate over the next 12 months which will set the agenda for community learning in the future.”

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