A new campaign that argues for a lifelong statutory right to fully funded learning for every adult is holding its first conference tonight.

Former education secretary Lord David Blunkett will be the opening speaker for the Right2Learn campaign, which was founded in December 20202 by a steering group including ex-shadow skills minister Gordon Marsden (pictured).

Blunkett’s lecture will be given in honour of Bob Fryer – a well-known champion of lifelong learning who worked with Blunkett on The Learning Age green paper at the turn of the millennium – who died in December.

Other speakers leading the conference include director for education and skills at the OECD Andreas Schleicher, City & Guilds chief executive Kirstie Donnelly, founder of the Helena Kennedy Foundation Ann Limb, President of the Further Education Trust for Leadership Ruth Silver, and WEA general secretary Simon Parkinson.

The Right2Learn campaign took its inspiration from Labour’s 2019 Lifelong Learning Commission which called for everyone to have a statutory right to learn whatever their age or background.

Their aim is to “show how important properly funded lifelong learning is to the life chances of millions”.

Since its launch, the campaign has created an online platform which features regular blogs, discussion and comment.

It also published a manifesto following a consultation in January, which produced five principles they believe should underpin government policy: break down barriers; integrate and coordinate; devolve and empower; tackle inequality and meet community needs; invest and promote.


‘Tonight’s conference comes at a crucial time’

Right 2 Learn’s steering group founders – Graeme Atherton, VIcky Duckworth, Gordon Marsden and Matt Waddup – said tonight’s conference comes at a “crucial time as we try to emerge from lockdown and the pandemic but with a sobering legacy of thousands of lost jobs, stalled careers and life chances across all ages and sectors, and the disruption right across the UK in further and higher education, skills and employment.”

The conference will also identify key issues and areas to focus on in the next 12 months.

These include “maximising initiatives to learn, both formally and informally, to up skill and reskill across all ages, especially for disadvantaged groups and areas; and the roles of government, local government, mayors and combined authorities, plus businesses, unions, third, public and private sectors, in delivering those goals”.

Titled ‘Right2Learn is Right for Now’, the conference will be held from 6pm to 8.30 pm virtually on zoom.

You can register for free here https://www.educationopportunities.co.uk/events/right2learn-conference/.

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