Learning Communities: towards prosperous and inclusive towns, cities and regions (0222)

Venue: Birmingham

Location: Birmingham, United Kingdom

Event Date/Time: Sep 29, 2002 End Date/Time: Oct 04, 2002
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This event will explore integrated approaches to planning and delivering education and training for all ages in the United Kingdom’s second city, Birmingham, and its distinctive vision of the Learning City. It will examine both the structures for strategic city-wide planning and the reality of service provision in the most disadvantaged areas of the city, and will include comparative and contrasting models from other cities in the UK. The emphasis will be on learning by doing, with the aim of developing a transferable model of a learning community.

Participants will spend much of the week working in two groups led by Martin Yarnit and Ron Faris to develop a framework for assessing Birmingham as a learning community, and apply it to what they experience through visits and presentations. They will present their findings to a panel of key local education and training figures at the end of the seminar.

An event website will enable participants to post their CVs, notes, questions and presentations and to read key documents. The report on the event will include the framework developed during the week.

The main topics covered during the event will include

 Using diversity and internationalism to promote learning
 Measuring the impact of learning programmes
 A holistic approach to building a learning community through cross-sectoral partnerships
 Progression from school to higher education
 Using informal learning to engage non-participants
 Learning at work
 Linking city-wide planning and neighbourhood delivery
 Building the capacity of community organisations
 Networked learning centres

Group visits, (the working groups will be mixed for their three visit sessions to promote a wider exchange of views), will be made to Millennium Point, the Think Tank at the University of the First Age and the Young People’s Parliament, as well as to other initiatives in and around Birmingham. These are likely to include a community learning project, a workplace learning centre, a family learning project in a primary school, a UK Online Centre and a City Learning Centre.

Participant Profile
Participants in this event will need to have some professional experience of education and training or urban planning as managers, practitioners and policy makers. The seminar will be of particular relevance to people who are interested in, and have experience of, the contribution that learning can make to urban renewal and to social cohesion. It will appeal to those who enjoy learning by doing and getting out to meet the people who are trying to shape the future of their city.

Event Directors

Martin Yarnit is one of the founders of the Learning City Movement and chaired the Learning City Network, now an organisation with 46 members including Birmingham. He is the author of Towns, Cities and Regions in the Learning Age: A Survey of Learning Communities. He directed the research leading to the publication of Practice, Progress and Value: - Learning Communities: Assessing the Value They Add. Martin helped to set up Adult Learners Week, now established in more than 40 countries on every continent. Based in Sheffield, he works as a freelance consultant. His clients include national agencies, UNESCO, local authorities and voluntary organisations.

Ron Faris, Ph.D, who is based in British Columbia, Canada, is the author of the much quoted Learning Communities: Cities, Towns and Villages Preparing for a 21st Century Knowledge-Based Economy. He began his career teaching at high schools in Canada, Australia, and a factory classroom in London. He is a consultant on learning villages and associated community-service learning initiatives in British Columbia. He was previously Executive Director of Continuing Education for the Province.