Unequal access to education throughout life is a huge, growing cause of inequality in our country – with four million fewer adults participating in education now than in 2010. This sows division in our communities; entrenches low skills, low wage work and levels down the life chances of millions.
Building back better must mean breaking down these barriers. That is why, taking our inspiration from the report last year of the Lifelong Learning Commission, we are calling now for a new statutory right to learn for every UK citizen throughout their lives – enabled and backed up by strong funding, information, advice and guidance.
The terrible toll that Covid has taken on hundreds of thousands of people’s lives, livelihoods and life chances makes it imperative we act to break down the traditional silos across education and bring about hope and transformation across our country. Only by doing this can we start to heal the deep divisions that exist in our society and help all those disadvantaged by not having the access to the education and training they need to progress.
We believe that a right to learn is the crucial pathway to achieving this. It can bring new, decent jobs and skills, energise our society and economy, and boost our productivity. It can transform our country throughout the 2020s, knitting together across the generations the hopes, potential and aspirations of both younger and older learners.
We call upon all those who share our vision for the importance of lifelong learning to our country’s future to join our new campaign for the right to learn.
Baroness Estelle Morris, former Secretary of State for Education and Co-Chair of Lifelong Learning Commission
Gordon Marsden, former Shadow Minister for HE, FE and Skills and instigator of the Lifelong Learning Commission
Graeme Atherton, Director of the National Education Opportunities Network, and member of the Lifelong Learning Commission
Vicky Duckworth, Professor of education at Edge Hill University and member of the Lifelong Learning Commission
Matt Waddup, former National Head of Policy and Campaigns at the University and College Union and member of the Lifelong Learning Commission
John Holford, Professor of Adult Education at Nottingham University and Joint Secretary to the Centenary Commission
Tom Wilson, Chair of the UFI Vocational Technology Trust and member of the Lifelong Learning Commission
Alison Fuller, Professor of Vocational Education and Work at the UCL Institute of Education, member of the Lifelong Learning Commission
Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Chief Executive of City and Guilds and member of the Lifelong Learning Commission
Andy Westwood, Professor of Government at the University of Manchester and former government advisor
John Denham, Professor of English identity and politics at the University of Southampton and former Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
Jonathan Michie, Professor of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange and President of Kellogg College, University of Oxford, and co-secretary of the Centenary Commission
Ewart Keep, Emeritus Professor and Chair in Education, Training and Skills at the University of Oxford, member of the Department for Education’s Skills and Productivity Board and member of the Lifelong Learning Commission
Bob Harrison, Chair of Northern College, and Visiting Professor of the University of Wolverhampton
Mary Stuart CBE, Professor and Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln
Alan Tuckett OBE, Professor of Education at the University of Wolverhampton and former Chief Executive of the National Institute of Adult, Continuing Education.
Diane Reay, Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge
Carol Dennis, Senior Lecturer in Education, Leadership and Management at the Open University and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Dave Phoenix OBE, Professor and Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University
Rae Tooth, Chief Executive of Villiers Park Educational Trust
Joe Dromey, Deputy Director of the Learning and Work Institute
Simon McGrath, Professor and Unesco Chair in International Education and Development at the University of Nottingham
Baron Chris Smith of Finsbury, Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Helen Higson OBE, Professor of Higher Education Learning and Management, Aston University
Carole Stott MBE, Chair of Governors at Bath College, former Chair of WorldSkills UK and member of the Lifelong Learning Commission
Wendy Moss, Head of Teaching and Learning at City Lit
Ann Limb CBE, Founder and Vice-President of the Helena Kennedy Foundation
Tom Schuller, Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education, University College London, and Chair of the Prisoner Learning Alliance
David Latchman CBE, Professor and Vice Chancellor of Birkbeck College
Dame Ruth Silver, President of the Further Education Trust for Leadership
Gail Cartmail, President, Trade Union Congress
Jane Hickie, Managing Director, Association of Employment and Learning Providers