Local learning sets the pattern

ALMOST 500 adults have joined courses at East Lothian's first Centre for Lifelong Learning in Haddington since it opened three months ago, underlining the council's long-held view about the need for local further education provision.

Sarah Anderson, a young Haddington mother, said: "I can drop off my daughter at school and then come up to college and I do not have to think of babysitters. Being local, it's ideal for starting education again. I would have taken more pushing if I had to travel." She left school more than 10 years ago and is aiming for a university place. "I love it. I just wish I had the sense to study when I was at school," she said.

The centre is jointly run by the council and Jewel and Esk college and was officially opened this week. East Lothian has seconded a community education worker and funds the building, while the college provides the bulk of staff. John Lisgo, the college principal, said it had put more than Pounds 100, 000 into the outreach base, going into deficit for the first time. The target is to have 1,000 students.

Alan Blackie, East Lothian's director of education, said the new centre, running courses ranging from guitar playing to IT and Spanish, has not dented existing community education courses. Research had shown a strong demand.

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