On-line, Britain's 'cultural revolution'

28th November 1997 at 00:00
Proposals for a British "cultural revolution" to create a radical new + cradle-to-grave education were published today by senior Government + advisers.Education Secretary David Blunkett is being urged to open up education+ to hundreds of thousands of people. All Government departments, trade + unions,councils, industrialists, schools, colleges and universities would be + involved in this dramatic change of thinking.A report, written as a forerunner + of next year's Lifelong Learning White Paper, recommends a raft of measures to + revolutionise adult education.Proposed reforms start with primary schools, + recommending that teachers place preparation for a lifetime's study alongside + the 3 Rs. Headteachers are also being urged to open their facilities to the + community out of hours.But the report's authors go further, proposing + fundamental changes to education funding, planning laws and even central + Government policy-making to promote training and education.The report said: + "The scale of the task the Government has set can scarcely be exaggerated. We + need a widespread understanding of the challenges the people of this country + now face, and genuine commitment to a new vision of lifelong learning to meet + them."To start the process, the White Paper should set out a radical programme+ of reforms, to carry the Government through at least one term of office, and + beyond."The report, drawn up by a committee of specialists from education, + industry and trade unions, was ordered by Mr Blunkett in July.Proposals + include:* Nationwide publicity campaign to promote lifelong learning;* New + digital learning TV channel and prime-time advertisements for education;* A + Millennium Learning Foundation to channel lottery money into local educational + projects;* Tax breaks for course fees - and possible tax concessions to help + people buy basic computers;* Learning centres linked to the Internet in + schools, libraries, council offices, pubs or even homes;* Free education + "health checks" for adults;* Reform of student support to extend help to + part-timers;* New national targets for education.Professor Bob Fryer, principal+ of the Northern College in Barnsley, chaired the advisory group during its + five-month inquiry. Writing exclusively in today's tes, he says: "Nothing short+ of a complete overhaul of educational strategy will be sufficient."Unless far + more is done to provide learning opportunities for the millions of people + already in the workforce who have had few, if any, such chances to engage in + learning since leaving school, the widespread changes in work will overwhelm + many."Alan Tuckett, director of the National Institute of Adult Continuing + Education and vice-chairman of the working group, said there could be no + overnight revolution, but radical changes were needed in the long run.He said: + "We were asked to write a report that looks at the questions as radically as we+ wanted to. "To turn an oil tanker around, you have to first decide where you + want to go. We are putting down the principles about where we would like to + go."He said all Government departments should focus their efforts on education.+ "I would like every council and every organisation to consider how each + decision affects lifelong learning," he said.The Fryer Report builds on + recommendations in the Dearing Report on higher education, and Helena Kennedy's+ report on FE.It will be seen as hugely influential, as ministers draw up + their plans for the new year.Prime Minister Tony Blair has already pledged to + bring 500,000 extra students into higher and further education by the end of + this parliament.

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