"The Survey" - Learning Towns, Learning Cities
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Derby targets learning
The initial inspiration to make Derby a City of Learning came from a visit by the Strategic Director of the Southern Derbyshire Chamber to Baltimore, which had become a City of Reading.
After discussions with initiatives in other parts of Britain, a model for a City of Learning was devised. It was recognised that the concept would only be of use if it could embrace the self-interest of providers and harness commitment at the highest level.
About 40 people at a senior level in city institutions were invited to a seminar to gauge the amount of interest in the initiative. This was followed by a meeting of some seven key people, chaired by the Director of Corporate Affairs at Toyota who is also Chair of the Board of Southern Derbyshire Chamber. A number of specific matters were agreed:
Since this initial meeting, The Forum and sponsor body both meet on a quarterly basis. The Forum has also met in two groups to consider target setting. In addition, there is a Marketing Group to cover promotional activities, currently chaired by the editor of the Derby Evening Telegraph; a Networked City Group which is currently exploring links with major telecommunications companies and a thriving Education Business Partnership.
The Sponsor Body currently consists of:
The Forum represents the same broad interests and consists of nominations from the Sponsor Group.
Again membership is at a senior level.
Those involved in the Forum include:
The Director of the multi-agency literacy project "Read and Write Away" may also be co-opted onto the Forum Group.
The initiative is linked to the Derby City Partnership, the economic planning group for the city, through the high level of membership of both groups.
Target setting and action planning
In Derby, target setting is seen as the key to a successful strategy and the initiative has made considerable progress in this direction.
In terms of baseline data the initiative is well equipped. An extensive household survey involving over 5,000 individual interviews was carried out in the Southern Derbyshire area and useful data on skill levels down to local district level are available. Research was commissioned from the Policy Research Unit of Leeds Metropolitan University on the evidence from Derby that learning pays for individuals. Southern Derbyshire Chamber also partnered the Basic Skills Agency and the Community Education Service in research into local literacy and numeracy levels.
The Forum Group has set special targets for Derby, based on the National Targets for Education and Training.
The Foundation Targets are:
The Lifetime Targets are:
These Lifetime Targets, except the one relating to participation which is yet to be set, relate to the workforce, including those discouraged from working or registered as unemployed.
An Awayday was held in March 1998 at which a priority action agenda was agreed for 1998/9 which includes the following:
The Derby initiative has encountered few problems so far. The vigorous competition between providers, the independence of schools (50% of Derby secondary schools are grant maintained) and the need to prioritise targets are likely to present challenges to the City of Learning. These should be alleviated by the following agreements, already made by the partners:
Progress so far
The Derby initiatives major achievements to date have been the rapid target setting exercise and the establishment of a high level partnership, plus excellent coverage by the local news press.
The next stage is to refine the targets and secure resources to achieve them.
This initiative has received no funding from external sources, nor has it made any bids for such funding.
Key Facts - Derby
Schools and colleges:
Grant-maintained and LEA maintained. Further and Higher Education institutions comprise the University of Derby and two tertiary colleges, Mackworth college Derby and Derby Tertiary College: Wilmorton.
About 17,700 students are enrolled on courses.