"The Survey" - Learning Towns, Learning Cities
Contents Page |
Summary of Developments |
Milton Keynes |
Other Initiatives |
The idea of Liverpool City of Learning emerged in 1992, from two activities contemporaneously. Research by Liverpool John Moores University (JMU) revealed that the education and training sector directly contributed in excess of one billion pounds to the Merseyside economy in that year; the city hosted the annual Conference of Local Education Authorities and Liverpool as a City of Learning was highlighted by the city.
Formally launched in the House of Lords in 1993, the key local education and training organisations gave a commitment to the initiative both through representation on the shadow Board (principals, CEO vice chancellor) and financial, through core funding for a small dedicated office.
Significant help in kind, was secured including secondments of the Assistant Director of Education and later the Director of Liverpool School, JMU. In the latest phase a non-sector specific person, with a "neutral" networking background has been appointed to head up the initiative.
One of the various initial reasons for establishing the Liverpool City of Learning partnership was to develop a coordinating body for large scale Objective 1 projects, particularly IT/education projects as an aid to regeneration. The partners drew up a strategic framework, which specifically sought:
Activities were high profile, and tended to be aimed at direct provision. In the more recent phase of Liverpool City of Learning, development has been of a facilitative networking nature.
Liverpool City of Learning became incorporated in 1996 as a company limited by guarantee, and a registered charity, making it independent of the institutions involved. This coupled with the 'neutral coordinator" gave the initiative impartiality and credibility.
Liverpool City of Learning was chaired for the first 5 years by the Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council, and recently the Director of Education has taken over; the universities and university colleges are represented at vice-chancellor level, and the TEC and business are represented at Chief Executive level. Other members comprise representatives of primary and secondary schools and the voluntary sector.
At the operational level, an Executive Committee of senior managers from the partner organisations take forward activities/strategies internally within their Organisation. Individual projects have their own steering group. In the early phase, such steering groups were project focused; latterly, they are concerned with securing added-value through links between the sectors.
The partners contribute core funding to support a small office. Whilst in the early phase fund-raising was undertaken to supplement this to further high profile marketing campaigns and specific projects. The current activity demands relatively little in terms of resources.
Initially one of the universities and now one of the university colleges, provides office space. This is currently in prestigious offices at Albert Dock, where Liverpool Hope University College have their Hope on the Waterfront Cafe and exhibition area, including City of Learning displays, open to the general public. Tourism figures indicate that Albert Dock is the second most visited tourist attraction in the UK.
Progress So Far
A thorough review of the initiative and its future direction took place at the end of 1996. Direct provision is now not undertaken, rather much more a facilitating role, particular between sectors, creating and sustaining "glue" between the partners particularly in the areas of their core businesses which generate added value, through the undertaking of some of these activities jointly together.
As indicated earlier, these include de joint staff development, joint marketing, joint research, and ground work for joint planning. Specific examples include a joint staff development seminar on "Higher Education Fees and Widening Participation", marketing - joint press releases on The Learning Age - reflecting a regional promotion of lifelong learning.
Strategically, the Regeneration Agenda for Liverpool, led by the City Council with key agencies, has a variety of objectives, including the promotion of lifelong learning. The ready-made partnership of Liverpool City of Learning, enabled a response and action plans to take the agenda forward to be developed at a considerable pace, faster and probably in a more sustainable way, than the other elements.
From this, the ground work for joint planning is starting, and it is envisaged that targets will emerge from this.
In this city, where there has been substantial injection of European funding in areas of extreme disadvantage, there is substantial experience of working in regeneration partnerships. This is reflected in communities which may not term themselves "learning communities", but which are learning to work with new forms of participation. The partnership structure is ensuring local people have a strong voice in determining allocations of funds for the development and learning in their areas; this model is in the vanguard of Europe's community development.
With the emergence of The Learning Age, the City of Learning Partnership produced a collaborative response. Moreover, this followed on from a consultation event.
A consultation event for the sub- region, Merseyside was planned. However, at an early stage, they were approached by the Government Office for the region inviting them to hold the event jointly with their office. The joint approach had considerable potential to both parties, and the teaming city would use the event to initiate action to take the proposals in the document forward. It is understood that this is unique as the first such joint consultation event.
The event was truly joint - invitation letters bore both logos and were co-signed, the planning and delivery of the event was undertaken jointly. A joint report of the event is being prepared together and follow-up is currently under discussion with both parties.
Two key issues emerged from the working meeting following the main morning presentation. Firstly, it was recommended that barriers to agencies working together, should be addressed; secondly relating to this, the assumption that we all knew how partnerships should operate was questioned. It was recommended that this should be addressed, including the proposal that a code of conduct be drawn up.
Recently, the City of Learning provided a platform for representation of the four HEIís in Merseyside, at the newly formed north west region's HEFCE Widening Participation Group.
HEFCE requested each of the sub-regions making up the north west region to nominate a single representative to represent their sub-region. In the north west, Merseyside was the only sub-region that met this, through the City of Learning's neutral coordinator. A collaborative bid by the four HEIís is presently being worked up.
Recognition and Reward
The partners were keen to recognise and reward the wide range of innovative practice in schools in the areas of maths, science and technology. In particular, the more informal, imaginative practical projects designed to raise achievement in schools where the school is working in partnership with another organisation, such as a community group, parents group, local college, company.
Private sector sponsors were secured, and four cash awards of £2,000 each made to four different schools to continue their partnership work to raise achievement.
The Liverpool initiative has had its share of problems, but it has addressed the issues, learned from its experience, and over the past year, adopted a radically different approach from when it began.
Whilst support at the top remains strong, the top down approach initially adopted has been superseded by active engagement at the senior management levels. Liverpool City of Learning is increasingly being seen as a neutral credible vehicle by a wide range of agencies.
Founding members of the partnership:
Other organisations active in the partnership include:
Liverpoolís City of Learning Mission
"To ensure that Liverpool and Merseyside are recognised nationally and Internationally as a city and region of learning whose education and training provision and local economy are uniquely geared towards dynamic, business-related education enhancing initiatives and developments".
Key Facts - Liverpool
Merseyside, 36 miles west of Manchester
Schools and Colleges:
All state secondary schools are LEA maintained or voluntary aided. Higher and Further Education institutions include the Liverpool University, Numerous Colleges.
About 20,000 adults are enrolled on courses.