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The Centenary Commission Report on Adult Education 2019

November 18, 2019

100 years since the Ministry of Reconstruction’s adult education committee published its Report on Adult Education, a new report argues that adult education and lifelong learning must be a permanent national necessity, an inseparable aspect of citizenship, vital to addressing the huge societal divisions and challenges to democracy we currently face. And Kellogg College members have been instrumental in its creation.

Funding for adult learning and apprenticeships has fallen by 45% in real terms since 2009-10, cutting adult education participation dramatically. Today’s Report calls for:

  • A national Adult Education & Lifelong Learning Strategy, with a participation target to reduce the gap between the most and least educationally active.
  • A Minister with specific responsibility for Adult Education and Lifelong Learning to report annually to Parliament on progress.
  • Community Learning Accounts, alongside Individual Learning Accounts to provide funding for informal, community-based learning initiatives led by local groups.

Welcoming the report, Chief Economist of the Bank of England Andy Haldane said: “This Report contains powerful and compelling recommendations for transforming and embedding adult education. It is an ambitious blueprint, but circumstances today and especially tomorrow call for no less. For three centuries, the UK’s education system has had a singular – and very successful – focus: developing cognitive skills in the young. That model is not fit for tomorrow’s purpose. The education system of tomorrow needs to span the generational spectrum – young to old – and the skills spectrum – cognitive to vocational to interpersonal. The economic benefits of doing so are crystal clear. The social and civic benefits are greater still. Social problems of disadvantage, disconnection and division loom large – adult education is one means of tackling those three Ds at source.”

Kellogg President and Joint Secretary of the Commission Professor Jonathan Michie, said: “Adult education and lifelong learning contribute hugely to communities, society, the economy, and individual wellbeing – it’s vital to invest for our collective benefit.”

Whilst CBI Vice President, Commission member and Kellogg Bynum Tudor Fellow Lord Bilimoria said: “I commend this Report for showing the way, and I call on the next government to implement its proposals. Serving on the Centenary Commission has been fascinating – such a range of social, economic, political and demographic challenges to tackle, with local contexts so important – and such inspiring examples from across the country of what could be achieved, if only we had a coherent national strategy with the funding and political will to deliver on the ground. Education is so important to us all, as individuals, and as members of our communities. And with the rapidly changing nature of work, with new technological developments continually emerging over the horizon, education for work needs to rise to the challenge – developing capabilities of team working, critical thinking, and reasoning. That’s what’s needed for our economy, our communities, our society and our democracy.”

An ‘Adult Education 100’ campaign, which includes Kellogg alumna Ruby Wax among its patrons, is leading a range of activities to mark the centenary of the 1919 Report, one of which is the Centenary Commission on Adult Education. The Commission’s remit was the same as for the 1919 committee: “To consider the provision for, and possibilities of, Adult Education in Great Britain, and to make recommendations.” The Centenary Commission’s report aims to stimulate a national debate, and new thinking about adult educational policy.

Find out more and obtain a copy of the report at

Follow the conversation on social #AdultEducation100