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Cover of Learning Through LifeLearning Through Life

Learning Through Life, the main report of the independent Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning, was launched on Thursday 17 September at the RSA in London. It has already sold over 2500 copies and has been positively received in many quarters.

NIACE is now taking forward the work on Learning Through Life.

This site will continue to be updated with details of the remaining supplementary papers - to be published. For all ongoing activity on Learning Through Life please visit the NIACE website .

Comments on Learning Through Life:

“The strength of this report is the fact that it recognises all of the strands that make up lifelong learning: in the community, in educational institutions, and of course through the workplace. Crucially, it identifies the major changes taking place in our society and the challenges they bring in maintaining functioning communities, and active and effective citizens.”
Rt Hon David Blunkett MP

“Learning Through Life … is a fundamental and convincing report about the necessity to finally take the implementation of Lifelong Learning seriously. The analysis and data in the report helps the reader to understand the limits of our present learning and educational models, based on the principle of learning early on for later life, and the enormous potential in economic , social ,cultural, and individual terms of learning through life. The recommendations in the report … are based upon the UK situation but they are highly relevant for all OECD countries and many new emerging economies on the global scene. It will be very difficult for the political community during the coming decade to ignore the recommendations in this report.”
Jarl Bengtsson, former head of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation at OECD

“This is an excellent report and my party will study it carefully...we must start to move towards an adult education system that is more responsive to learners and employers.”
DavidWilletts MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Universities and Skills

“We believe in equipping people of all ages with the financial capability skills that enable them to budget, save and borrow with confidence. More than half of all Citizens Advice Bureaux now offer financial education sessions in their local communities, and our aim is that all will do so by 2011. We welcome the report's pragmatic emphasis on providing the essential financial skills people need to function in the modern world. We are pleased to see the report recognises financial capability as key and we endorse its call for universal provision.”
David Harker, Chief Executive, Citizens Advice

“A hugely impressive report.”
Mike Baker, The Guardian

“Learning Through Life is a wonderful contribution to the scholarly and policy literature on life-long learning. Not only does it bring together cutting edge thinking about life-long learning from a sociological and human development perspective but also it offers creative policies and programs to make life-long learning a reality. Although it's written for a UK audience, it's applicable to an American audience as well, and I recommend it highly to scholars and policymakers in both the UK and U.S. who care about the future of the capacities of citizens.”
Dr Fay Lomax Cook, Director, Institute for Policy Research, Professor of Human Development & Social Policy, Northwestern University, Illinois

“Learning Through Life has been an extremely useful report that helped me understand the area of adult learning and identify opportunities to expand personal development across all the life stages. It has been of critical importance while working on the dissertation for my masters course.”
Katerina Symiakaki, MA Innovation Management student at Central Saint Martins

“Learning Through Life makes a number of radical, realistic and compelling proposals which the WEA believes the UK Government should seriously consider. I very much welcome the four-stage model for lifelong learning, and the proposal that investment of current resources should be rebalanced sensibly across those stages of life. There is much else for the WEA to welcome, too, including the recommendation to build a set of learning entitlements, the framework for a "Citizens' Curriculum" and reviving local responsibility within national frameworks.”
Richard Bolsin, WEA General Secretary

“It is an excellent piece of work, combining powerful analysis and a compelling conceptual framework with solid policy recommendations.”
Matthew Taylor, RSA’s Chief Executive

To contribute comments, email lifelonglearninginquiry@niace.org.uk 

The Goal

The overall goal of the Inquiry is to offer an authoritative and coherent strategic framework for lifelong learning in the UK. This will involve:

bulletArticulating a broad rational for public and private investment in lifelong learning;
bulletA re-appraisal of the social and cultural value attached to it by policy-makers and the public;
bulletDeveloping new perspectives on policy and practice.


Learning Through Life Summary (English) - [PDF]
Dysgu Gydol Oes Crynodeb (Cymraeg) - [PDF]
Order a copy of Learning Through Life
Details of Learning Through Life - [PDF]
Inquiring Minds: Tom Schuller’s blog

Age discrimination and education: new insights on the Equality Bill

Learning Through Life report launched on 17 September

Education promotes well-being - but too many over 25's excluded

Two-Tier adult training system needs urgent reform

Adult Education 'Vital' for All Migrants

New additions to the website:

 Thematic Paper 7: Work and Learning

 Themes and Evidence: Skills in Context

 Context Paper: Expenditure and funding models in lifelong learning

 Learning from the Past, by Peter Clyne

 Legal Briefing Paper: Age Discrimination and Education

 Sector Paper 9: Family Learning

 Sector Paper 8: Higher Education

 Sector Paper 7: Further Education

 Thematic Paper 6: Poverty Reduction

The Inquiry in the Media

 On balance, it's time for parity - no matter how it may move things
Times Higher Education, 31 December 2009

 Dundee: Learning City event 10 Nov 2009
Go Dundee, November 2009

 Education for life
TES, 26 September 2009

 Funding must grow up
TES, 25 September 2009

 Report redefines sector's future
TES, 25 September 2009

 Lifelong learning requires investment now in education for older people
Guardian, 22 September 2009

 How do we achieve a really  "lifelong" learning system"
Mature Times, 21 September 2009

 A case for adult learning in all shapes and sizes
TES, 18 September 2009

 Report calls for £3bn for older students
TES, 18 September 2009

 Time to abandon wider participation?
Matthew Taylor's Blog, 18 September 2009

 National inquiry calls for radical reform of adult learning
People Management, 17 September 2009

 Review demands lifetime learning entitlements
NewStart, 17 September 2009

 Lifelong learning inquiry findings
Personnel Today, 17 September 2009

 Adult education funding must be shifted to older people, says report
UTV, 17 September 2009

 Adult education funding must be shifted to older people, says report
Guardian, 17 September 2009

 In prison, education is your best route to a better life
, 17 September 2009

 David Willetts' response to NIACE ‘Learning Through Life’ report
David Willett's website, 17 September 2009

 Government accused of ignoring need for learning beyond work
, 17 September 2009

 75 is the new 65: why pensioners should be going back to school
, 17 September 2009

 Lifelong learning inquiry proposes radical reforms
Guardian, 15 September 2009

 FE's flexibility offers society a vital safety net
, 11 September 2009

 Lifelong learning could save Treasury millions
, 11 September 2009

 We need an all-age learning contract
Adults Learning, June 2009

 Block of ages
Guardian, 9 June 2009

 Public and private sectors diverge on training aims
TES, 29 May 2009

 Let’s open doors to new arrivals and their skills
TES, 24 April 2009

 Education voucher bid to help all new arrivals
TES, 24 April 2009

 Older people’s education ‘neglected’
Guardian, 20 January 09

 New curriculum needed for longer retirement
TES FE Focus, 23 January 2009

 Money, money, money
Adults Learning, Oct 2008

 Guardian to take detailed look into the Inquiry

 Green light for student debate on environment
The Times Educational Supplement,
11 Jul 2008

 Campaign Camp
The Guardian, 12 Feb 2008


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NIACE (The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, England and Wales).  A company limited by guarantee registered no. 2603322 and registered charity no. 1002775, Registered address: 21 , De Montfort Street, Leicester, LE1 7GE, UK