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Community and Learning Partnerships

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 17 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Community Learning Schools Colleges

The people in communities need education, and ensuring that they’re able to obtain it is the aim behind Community Learning Partnerships, a government initiative to ensure access to education to all within an area, with the ideal that learning can be a lifelong experience for all within that community.

Although it’s an idea that might seem self-evident, it’s only in recent years that it’s become policy, where schools – both primary and secondary, as well as technical colleges – can work together to create an educational umbrella that serves the needs of the community. Obviously, those needs vary from area to area, which means that community input is important to determine what’s necessary.

How Community Learning Partnerships Work

At its heart, local areas create clusters of children’s centres and schools that work together to fill the educational needs of the area, once those needs have been identified by a mixture of bureaucratic research and community input.

This might seem to be more of an education issue rather than a community issue, but it’s not, since access to good education is vital for the development of the community, especially as part of the brief is to ensure that learning can continue beyond school age, for adults, so the facilities need to be in place to allow further education for qualifications, as well as job placement, health and social care.

At its heart it brings together work that was already been done by different agencies and places them under that single umbrella to ensure continuity and a better, more streamlined service to residents of the area.

Ideally, a Community Learning Partnership should benefit all facets of the community, not just in education, but also in employment advice to school leavers, working with Job Centres, health services for children and families, as well as carers, family support – which includes childcare – so that everything from Early Years to adulthood is covered.

The Advantages of Community Learning Services

Whilst schools working alone can’t hope to deliver all these services, by partnering with other services within the community, a blanket can be created to ensure that everything works together under the auspices of a single agency that is also flexible enough to address community concerns and needs as they change and develop, meaning that community input, through meetings or community leaders, remains a vital part of the whole system.

Once that system is in place, as it is already in a number of areas in Britain, it can be expanded in many different ways that serve local community needs. In one area, for instance, a technical college has set up wireless computer networks in village halls, giving Internet access in places that might not otherwise have them, a concrete example of how these partnerships can bring real, lasting benefits to everyone.

The Future of Community Learning Partnerships

As these are being rolled out across the country, there’s ample opportunity for fine-tuning the concept as it expands, and also see how it can be pushed even further. The more that lifelong learning can be promoted, the more individual communities can benefit, as those with few or no qualifications have the opportunity to learn and hopefully eventually obtain better jobs with more pay and prospects.

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