Champion of adult learning

19th October 2007 at 01:00

It has long been anticipated that John Denham would lend a sympathetic ear to adult education. True to his reputation, the Secretary of State at the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills has delivered a fresh approach, which recognises the role of adult education in creating a more socially cohesive society.

It remains to be seen how his proposals will be funded, but he has committed to doing more for adult education of the kind that falls outside government priorities and expanding English courses for speakers of other languages.

It would be disingenuous to describe Mr Denham's approach as a U-turn on the Government's previous hard line on adult funding. Its near obsession with vocational training has been based on the sound proposition of giving people the opportunity to make progress in a tangible way - and that means access to skilled jobs.

Mr Denham's approach is a continuation of that policy, but a recognition that the net needs to be spread wider if adults are to be turned on to education in a way that benefits them as well as the economy.

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