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Most colleges have action plans to help improve deprived areas

Most colleges and adult education services have created action plans to help lift people in deprived areas out of poverty, a study commissioned by the Government reveals.

The study shows the overwhelm- ing majority of FE colleges and local education authority adult education services have taken seriously the challenge by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in 2001 when he said "within 10 to 20 years no-one should be seriously disadvantaged by where they live".

Eight out of 10 colleges have taken lessons to local people by creating outreach and neighbourhood learning centres. Six out of 10 employ people as community development workers to reach people in deprived communities and involve "local regeneration workers" when designing courses.

However, the study by the Learning and Skills Development Agency shows only "patchy evidence" of the more specific sort of training for local people that the Government's Neighbourhood Renewal Unit identified as essential.

More needs to be done to give people the interpersonal and community leadership skills that well-heeled communities take for granted. These are the skills the middle classes use to build supportive networks.

A report on the LSDA study acknowledges that the identification of such skills for community leaders, residents and others working in neighbourhood renewal is relatively new. But, it insists, there are many examples of good practice around the country.

They include a Burnley College scheme to fund community and ethnic minority groups to run their own activities and a foundation degree in community development at Hinkley College.

Breathing new life into communities is available at www.LSDA. org.ukpubs

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