Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Pilots give communities a real say over learning

Pilots give communities a real say over learning

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 11 April 2012

A pilot scheme that will give local people a real say in decisions about their local adult learning courses and bring better value for money for taxpayers has been announced today.

The Government is planning to select between ten and fifteen Community Learning Trust Pilots which will begin work in August. Organisations such as adult education services and FE colleges that are funded from the Skills Funding Agency’s £210 million annual Community Learning budget are invited to prepare their applications in collaboration with local community organisations, businesses and services.

Alongside its social benefits, community learning helps to contribute to the growth of local economies by helping people to develop the skills, confidence and independence required to progress to training and employment. Students could range from a young person looking to gain new skills to an older person keeping active by taking part in adult education classes.

Skills Minister John Hayes, launching the prospectus for community learning trust pilots, said:

“Learning is not just for people and communities, it belongs to them and must answer to them for its success or failure. It’s time for local people to have a more powerful voice in local learning.

“Our community learning trust pilots will give people that voice and the chance to discuss, design - and in some cases deliver - the kind of learning they want.

“These pilots will liberate community learning from top-down bureaucratic controls and give it a new direction, based on what people tell us. I hope that in time all communities will have more power over their local learning.”

All the pilots will be expected to demonstrate how they will generate income in addition to the public subsidy and show how local people are taking a lead. This is an opportunity for people involved in volunteering, learning clubs, informal learning at work and online learning, as well as more structured learning, to be part of their local application to become a trust.

NIACE (the National Institute of Adult Continuing Learning) will support the pilot trusts.

Notes to editors:

1. The Community Learning Prospectus can be viewed at

2. Pilots will start in August 2012. If the pilot approaches are successful, trusts will be rolled out more widely from 2013. Interested organisations will have just over six weeks to develop and submit their applications.

3. Successful trusts will be announced in early July.

4. BIS-funded Community Learning covers a broad range of courses, usually unaccredited, that bring together adults of different ages and backgrounds to pursue an interest, address a need, acquire a new skill, become healthier or learn how to support their children.

5. In December 2011 New Challenges, New Chances Further Education and Skills System Reform Plan: building a world class skills system set out new aims and objectives for the £210m per year community learning budget in England and the Department’s intention to pilot a range of community learning trusts models from August 2012.

6. All directly-funded providers in receipt of an allocation from the BIS £210m Community Learning (previously Adult Safeguarded Learning) budget are eligible to work with community partners to put forward a proposal.

7. Based on administrative information collected in the ‘Individualised Learner Record’, across England 699,400 learners participated in Community Learning courses in 2010/11.

8. Provision funded though this budget is delivered or commissioned by FE colleges, local authority providers and Specialist Designated Institutions.

9. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.


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