Adult education commission? Not another one!

FErret thinks all these commissions are jolly worthy, but is anyone actually listening?

adult education outreach access college barriers learning

Do you know what adult education needs? More funding, you say? A return of night schools, perhaps? Young people to be level pegging in terms of learning opportunities, maybe?

How about another commission to sit around and talk about the woes of the lifelong learning sector. Anyone?

To parrot Brenda from Bristol, who spoke for the nation when she decried Theresa May's decision to call a general election in 2017 when she exclaimed "not another one", FErret feels Brenda's pain again now.

Brenda general election

Well, that’s what we’re having anyway. Hot on the heels of the Lib Dem commission, the Pearson commission and the recently announced centenary commission, Labour is trying its hand at holding its very own commission. It is made up of very reputable names – although FErret hears whispers of disquiet that the commission seems skewed towards learning for work – and it will no doubt come up with some very worthy decisions.


Read more: 'Why Labour's lifelong learning commission matters'

More news: Cable's Lifelong Learning Commission panel revealed

Background: Commission marks centenary of landmark report


Consensus is needed

The trouble is, will anyone be listening? With Brexit taking up almost all the political bandwidth in Whitehall – as it is likely to for the foreseeable future – is there an appetite for yet more ideas about how to reform adult education?

Surely it would be more powerful to form cross-party alliances to come up with a coherent and long-term plan for lifelong learning.

There is agreement across the political spectrum that something needs to be done to tackle the impending threat of automation of whole swathes of jobs, and there is also a growing appetite for responses such as social prescribing to tackle loneliness and mental health issues.

With both Labour and the Conservatives losing MPs, perhaps it is time for the main two parties to try to build consensus rather than pandering to their bases.

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