As well as being a lecturer at a city college, I work as a volunteer at a local youth club. This attracts many disaffected individuals, some of whom live in secure housing in the town from which I commute to work by car. I have taken it upon myself to be an unofficial college recruiter and bring the idea of a fresh start and a better future to these young people. Sadly, transport from townvillage to city in this area is dire, and the cost of it is a deterrent. I've spoken to the principal but he laughed at the suggestion that the college could fund its own transport link. I believe a divide is developing between those with easy access to a college and those, particularly in rural areas, who don't. I want to teach these children, not just play snooker and share a few jokes on a Saturday night.
Mayor of London Ken Livingstone's idea of free transport for students in the capital is an excellent one. I live in north Dorset and every day navigate the narrow lanes in fear of hitting one of the various coaches hired by the local authority to ferry children to and from schools across the county.
The question is, why isn't something similar done to bring young and old to colleges? Tipped off by FErret in this paper, I found myself visiting the website of the Academy of Sustainable Communities in the hope of finding a suitable initiative to solve this problem.
What I found was a positive statement about connecting people to schools and other services, but nothing about colleges or further education. Let us hope those at the ASC can justify their big salaries and come up with a solution before long. As an aside, it seemed no one was excluded from this goal. But, as Alan Tuckett of Niace keeps pointing out, adult education is being increasingly sidelined. What place do adults with no educational provision have in a sustainable community? That is the question.