Labour now has it in its gift to implement a central recommendation of the 25-year-old Russell Report on adult education: to have teachers and community leaders working with each other to help give people back their own voices.
The crisis facing 4 million people on 3,000 crumbling housing estates is about exclusion from mainstream society, resulting in loss of hope. Since Russell reported, the social crisis has escalated; yet adult education has repeatedly been cut back. Few policy-makers recognised that the two trends were related, yet now there is strong international evidence that this is the case. Closer to home, there are impressive examples of what education can achieve (see page 5).
The education service, from nursery school to higher education, is an indispensable element in regenerating urban communities. Building on the recent Green Paper The Learning Age, we at last have the chance to construct a lifelong learning policy, lying at the heart of a co-ordinated assault on social and economic exclusion.