We need to awaken love of learning

23rd January 2009 at 00:00

The Government's recent announcement that "golden handcuff" payments will be offered to keep good teachers in the toughest schools makes me wonder if we are sending out the right message about education in the UK.

It is clear that we must do more to maintain high quality teaching in our primary and secondary schools, but I am concerned that for all the good it may do to "handcuff" teachers to challenging positions working with our children, we do so at the expense of the lifelong learning sector.

Meanwhile, the RSA's (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) new education charter states that "it is the primary purpose of education to awaken a love of learning in young people, and give them the ability and desire to carry on learning throughout life". I endorse this view.

As far as I am concerned, the future of the UK, and its economy, rests upon what the lifelong learning sector does to boost training and skills for businesses and individuals, and how critical that is to helping them withstand the effects of recession.

We need to draw attention to the possibilities that exist within further education. More can be done to invest in growing our own educators from those who hold support roles in the sector.

But how can we inform those training to teach, and who may have only considered school teaching, to consider further education, work-based learning or community learning providers?

We have an immense task to keep employers investing in learning and development in order to compete in the global marketplace. Let's give them a chance by supporting the lifelong learning sector.

David Hunter, Chief executive, Lifelong Learning UK.

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