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Whatever happened to our vision of a learning society?


Leading education experts are set to consider the future of lifelong learning and its role within society at a University of Wolverhampton event.

It is 20 years since the publication of the Government Green Paper ‘The Learning Age’ in which David Blunkett offered a vision of the value of lifelong learning.

Now a major conference at the University on Friday, 16 February 2018 is set to consider what happened to the vision of a learning society.

The event, Whatever happened to our vision of a learning society: The Learning Age 20 years on?, will open with a video interview with Lord Blunkett.

The conference in The Chancellor’s Hall from 10am – 4pm has been organised by Professor Sir Alan Tuckett, who received a knighthood in the New Year Honours.

He said: “Adult learning has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years, with major losses of numbers participating in further and community provision and a half of mature students lost from higher education.  The aim of the conference is to draw inspiration from the imaginative initiatives of the 1990s and to foster new energies for a renaissance of commitment to lifelong life-wide learning.”

The event will feature a keynote address from John Field, with responses from Andy Westwood and Lorna Unwin.

There will be sessions on a range of subjects, including technological innovation, community learning, participation and the benefits of learning and workplace learning.

The event costs £100, but there are some subsidised free places. For booking details, visit:

The conference is sponsored by The Learning and Work Institute, The Education and Training Foundation, HOLEX and the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning.

Full details of the programme are below:

There are four group sessions to choose from in the morning:

  • Participation and the benefits of learning, led by Fiona Aldridge and Tom Schuller
  • Quality, equality and inclusion, led by Peter Lavender and Jan Eldred
  • Technological innovation, led by Margaret Bennett and John Traxler
  • Innovation, innovation, innovation – ILAs, NHSU, Learning cities, led by Alastair Thomson and Ian Nash.

And four after lunch sessions:

  • Workplace learning and the impact of union learn, led by Tom Wilson and Lorna Unwin
  • Adults in and into higher education, led by Liz Marr and Tom Sperlinger
  • Further education colleges and the FE sector, led by Julian Gravatt and Mick Fletcher
  • And Community learning, led by Martin Yarnit and Jo Cain.

Two parallel panels follow.  The first, exploring Skills for Life and its legacy has Susan Pember, Lyn Tett and Vicky Duckworth as panellists.  The second, looking at perspectives from Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland has Jim Gallacher, Paul Nolan and Rob Humphreys as speakers. 

A final plenary looking at lessons for the future has Tom Schuller, Leisha Fullick and Alan Tuckett as speakers.

For booking details, visit:

Further information

An interview with Professor Sir Alan Tuckett is available here:

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Date Issued: Thursday, 25 January 2018

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

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