After years of knocking, is the political door finally swinging open to the world of adult learning in Scotland? It might seem so.
On 18th March 2015, Neil Findlay MSP lodged the following motion in the Scottish Parliament:
‘That the Parliament congratulates the National Adult Learners’ Forum and Scotland’s Learning Partnership on hosting what it considers a series of creative conversations with councillors, MSPs and adult learners in Livingston and across Scotland to highlight the impact of adult learning on communities; recognises what it sees as the good work of local authorities and the voluntary sector in delivering adult learning with disadvantaged groups and communities; understands that there is an old Scottish tradition of supporting education for all, including adult education; calls on politicians of all parties to support adult learning and, in particular non-formal adult learning, which it believes is often the first step for people going back into education after school, and wishes the learners’ forum well as it implements its plans for learner-led projects.’
Supported by: Alex Rowley, Sarah Boyack, Iain Gray, David Stewart, Jackie Baillie, Hanzala Malik, Patricia Ferguson, Cara Hilton, Johann Lamont, Liam McArthur, Anne McTaggart, Jean Urquhart, Mary Fee, Elaine Murray, John Pentland, Graeme Pearson
For most of us who have worked tirelessly together on national forums, working groups and in policy influencing roles, the shift perhaps feels natural. Our collective hopes and expectations for wide support of adult learning could easily meet with the response ‘of course this should happen, why on earth not?’
However, we shouldn’t underestimate the scale of effort that it has taken to get to this point in Scotland, nor the work needed to continue in this positive direction.
We are delighted that WEA Scotland staff and learners have been part of the ongoing conversations across Scotland and welcome the motion and level of support from MSPs. Our committment and resolve is strengthened by that support.
The support has predominately come from labour MSPs, alongside independent MSP and adult learning champion Jean Urquhart. Jean is also the convener of the Cross Party Group on Adult Learning.