By Daniel Hunter

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.

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.

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