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

Sir 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 University of Wolverhampton 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

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