Lifelong Learning UK
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DISABILITY EQUALITY GIVEN A BOOST IN EDUCATION

Liverpool Community College first in UK to back Disability Equality Commitment An initiative to promote equality for disabled people in post-compulsory education was kick-started yesterday with its first official pledge from a further education college. The Disability Equality Commitment, facilitated by Lifelong Learning UK, is a framework to help organisations in further education recruit, retain, and train disabled employees so that they are equally represented in the sector. Liverpool Community College became the first institution to sign up and commit to disability equality in this way.

Maureen Mellor MBE, Principal of Liverpool Community College, signed the pledge at this week’s Association of Colleges conference, in the company of Paul Mackney, the Chair of the Disability Equality Implementation Group which launched the initiative. The College has a proven record in striving for equality and diversity. 15 per cent of its learners class themselves as having a disability, alongside seven per cent of staff.

Maureen Mellor MBE, said: “Liverpool Community College has a distinct action plan on disability equality – we have a disability staff group; we have undertaken a major training project with 1,000 staff taking part in sessions on equality awareness; and each year we hold a diversity event to celebrate and raise awareness of the different talents, skills and needs of our learners and staff.”

“We are delighted to be the first further education college to sign up to the Disability Equality Commitment. We recognise our duty to all our staff and learners and strive to provide the best service for them. In turn we hope that individuals benefit from the opportunities that are created”. Disabled people make up one fifth of the UK’s working age population, but face significant disadvantages in the world of work. They are 50 per cent less likely to have a degree than nondisabled people, and twice as likely to have no qualifications at all. They are also 25 per cent less likely to be employed than the population as a whole.* The Disability Equality Commitment aims to positively address those inequalities in further education.

Paul Mackney, Chair of the Disability Equality Implementation Group, said “Our learners deserve to engage with the very best staff, irrespective of their age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation. We know from Lifelong Learning UK’s Annual Workforce Diversity Profile that the level of staff disclosure about disability has fallen this year, which is why it’s more important than ever that colleges and other lifelong learning providers demonstrate a commitment to promoting disability equality. We’re delighted that Liverpool Community College is forging the way by signing up to the Disability Equality Commitment in Lifelong Learning, and, for the sake of all learners and staff, we would encourage others to do the same.”

David Hunter, Chief Executive of Lifelong Learning UK, said: “We’re very pleased to be involved in delivering solutions on such an important issue. Improving teaching standards and learning environments, and enhancing career opportunities for all workers in the further education sector, is key to what Lifelong Learning UK does. The Disability Equality Commitment is a big step forward in ensuring disabled staff and learners have the same opportunities as their non-disabled counterparts.”

Key outcomes for organisations that sign up to the Disability Equality Commitment include:

· Designating senior members of staff with responsibility for disability equality

· Making sure disabled people are encouraged to be trustees and governors

· Developing mechanisms to ensure disabled staff are involved, heard, supported and affiliated to national networks

· Ensuring disabled staff are included in all aspects of policy

· Encouraging applications for work from disabled people through reviewing recruitment procedures

· Ensuring organisations aim to achieve staffing that reflects the disability profile of the working age population, management and governance that is well-informed on disability

issues, and training that promotes disability equality

· Developing support such as mentoring and work shadowing to raise the achievement of disabled staff

· Sharing good practice between organisations, staff and learners, and outside contractors and agencies where possible.

Organisations wishing to sign up can find out more by visiting http://www.lluk.org/disability-equalitycommitment.htm

For images of Maureen Mellor, MBE and Paul Mackney signing the agreement, or interviews around disability equality in the further education sector, please contact Redzi Mangwana on 020 7009 3135 or redzi@3-monkeys.co.uk

 

 

Notes to editors

*Source: Disability, Skills and Work: Raising our Achievements, The Social Market Foundation, 2007: http://www.lluk.org/documents/Disability_Skills_and_Work.pdf

About Lifelong Learning UK

· Lifelong Learning UK aims to encourage teachers, trainers, librarians and other staff in postcompulsory education to gain new skills and qualifications so that they offer a better service to young people, adult learners, employers and the wider community

· Lifelong Learning UK is one of 25 Sector Skills Councils that make up the Skills for Business Network - each one is an employer-led, independent organisation. See: www.lluk.org

· Lifelong Learning UK also promotes lifelong learning as a career so that employers in the sector have less difficulty recruiting and retaining staff

· In addition to developing sector-wide occupational standards and qualifications frameworks,

Lifelong Learning UK also produces labour market intelligence so that lifelong learning employers can identify skills gaps and shortages among their own workforce.

About the Disability Equality Implementation Group

· The Disability Equality Implementation Group is facilitated by Lifelong Learning UK to focus on issues of disability equality in the UK lifelong learning workforce.

· The group is committed to promoting the social and affirmative models of disability, and all members commit to demonstrating good practice.

· The Group meets five times a year, with membership and representation from twenty-four lifelong learning sector bodies.

For a full list of members please visit

http://www.lluk.org/disability-equality-implementation-group%20.htm

· The group specifically monitors the full implementation of recommendations resulting from the March 2008 report "From Compliance to Culture Change - Disabled Staff Working in Lifelong Learning" published by the Commission on disabled staff in lifelong learning.

· For background information to disability equality in the lifelong learning sector, please visit http://www.niace.org.uk/projects/commissionfordisabledstaff/Default.htm

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