An Edge Hill education expert has joined leading academics, politicians and campaigners in a call for new skills and learning courses for both younger and older adult learners.

The Right2Learn logo

Professor of Education Vicky Duckworth is supporting ‘Right 2 Learn’ which is a new, progressive and independent campaign which will argue for a lifelong statutory right to fully funded learning and training for every adult throughout their lives.

In the wake of the COVID pandemic and Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s forecast of 2.6 million out of work by next spring, the new campaign launched this week will press for millions of adults to be given the right to access learning to reskill and retrain for new employment and future careers as well as for personal development.

The campaign’s launch statement says that “the legacy of COVID will accelerate changes already underway such as digitisation, automation and transition to a new green economy, as well as a post Brexit UK … and with over 4 million fewer adults participating in education now than in 2020, we will need a huge push to support and reskill millions of those most at risk of being left behind, both in the next 12 months and throughout the 2020s”.

The launch is accompanied by a letter of support for the Right to Learn with signatories drawn from across the worlds of education, skills, training and lifelong learning including former ministers Estelle Morris, John Denham and Chris Smith; academics such as Vicky Duckworth, Alison Fuller, Helen Higson, John Holford, David Latchman, Dave Phoenix and Andy Westwood as well as leaders and advocates including Kirsty Donnelly, Jane Hickie, Ann Limb, Ruth Silver, Tom Schuller, Alan Tuckett and Tom Wilson.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown

The campaign has been endorsed by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown who says he “welcomes the launch of the Right 2 Learn initiative” and that “more than ever, the right of everyone to learn has to be championed by all.

There will be a dedicated Right 2 Learn online platform which will feature regular blogs, discussion and comment. Right 2 Learn has taken as its inspiration one of the key recommendations of the Lifelong Learning Commission report ‘The Future is ours to Learn’ published last November which called for a publicly funded minimum entitlement to study up to Level 3 (equivalent to A Levels) and 6 years publicly funded credits at Level 4 and upwards for full, part time or modular learning.

Photo shows Vicky Duckworth
Professor Vicky Duckworth

VIcky Duckworth, Professor of Education at Edge Hill University and co-leader of the Transforming Lives project, said: ‘We want Right2Learn to be a driver for change, helping to empower communities and individuals’ life chances. Via our online platform we are establishing a forum that will give a voice for existing and potential new initiatives and be a focal point for some of the amazing projects for skills and learning going forward not just in England but across the UK’.

Former Shadow HE, FE and Skills Minister Gordon Marsden said: “At this critical time, when Government is preparing for an FE White Paper and responding to the Augar report, it is vital to have a vision that can cut across the traditional silos which often hamper collaboration. We need a Right to Learn strategy to break down barriers and transform life chances for people-getting millions of people the basic skills they lack, and allowing them and others to progress to crucial Levels 2 and 3, alongside the chance to acquire higher technical skills at Levels 4 and above, as well as traineeships and apprenticeships.

We need to involve every part of the post 18 educational landscape in that journey. Universities, FE colleges, skills and learning providers, as well as employers, trade unions, the third sector and existing informal and lifelong learning networks all have a part to play – with a key delivery role for devolved local and regional elected mayors, combined authorities and others wherever appropriate.”

Matt Waddup, former head of Policy and Campaigns at UCU, said: “Right2Learn will promote skills and learning not just to help adults to keep their jobs now, but to give them enabling skills that will help them get new jobs in new sectors. Access to education is vital not just for our economy and productivity but to heal divisions in our society, especially all those disadvantaged and left behind. That access must include as well the millions of people who will be self-employed, or working in small businesses and co-operatives in the decade ahead”.

Further information on the campaign can be found at: www.right2learn.co.uk. To follow Right2Learn on twitter: @right2_learn.