Partners in Lifelong Learning
The Educational Centres Association is a practice-based organisation concerned with adult education and lifelong learning. Its work in the arts and cultural sectors complements the role of its constituent institutions and organisations. These extend across the range of Adult Community Learning, FE Colleges and HE. In England much of this work is funded by the Learning & Skills Council, LSC, with which we have effective relationships at national and local levels.
Collaboration & RepresentationThe Association is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and in reciprocal membership with NIACE. It represents community, voluntary and statutory sector organisations, informal groups, Local Authorities and incorporated bodies as well as private providers. Some member bodies teach basic and key skills to adults while others are responsible for examinations, accreditation and standards.
Involving People at All Levels
We have the active involvement of students, governors, teachers, tutors, lecturers, principals and other educators participating right up to board level.
The Association collaborates in local projects, partnerships plus wider networks. These activities address rural as well as urban deprivation and disadvantage. We are committed to widening participation and view education as a means of promoting social inclusion, urban regeneration and neighbourhood renewal.
With the support of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission we have delivered the Good Relations Project, known locally as Leicester Community Network that contributes to effective relationships between diversity organisations in the city. It has a focus on communication between groups and learning associated with community journalism.
Diverse & Relevant Provision
These new dimensions include new ways of developing the artistic and creative talents of adults, running courses in ICT, basic literacy, numeracy and key skills, plus contributing to family learning and other work with parents such as SureStart. However our commitment is to relevant provision for all ages, with special concern for older people who have lost opportunities under succeeding governments.
Responding in a Changing World
The ECA helps member institutions face the current challenges of inspection, funding, leadership, staff development and creates opportunities for innovation and new partnerships, responding to digital technologies and e-learning, the Sector Skills Councils and developments in the curriculum.
Every Action Counts
Every Action Counts is an initiative that has been supported by Defra and delivered through a consortium of voluntary and community sector organisations, of which the ECA is a member. Voluntary and community sector groups have been helped to make environmental choices to safeguard the future of our planet. The ECA has been particularly successful in achieving the targets agreed for its involvement. Visit the Every Action Counts section of the site for more information.
Third Sector Declaration on Climate Change
The Declaration has been drawn up by Every Action Counts as a statement of intent from Third Sector organisations to tackle the issue of climate change by taking actions within our organisations and communities. The ECA was present at the launch and has signed up to the declaration.
Maintaining Effectiveness at the Grass Roots
The Association is organised on a regional basis and operates through local forums such as the one in Greater Manchester that, with its personal touch, has led a collaborative project to assess the capacity of the voluntary sector to contribute to the skills agenda. Conferences and seminars arranged at local and national levels, together with newsletters, enable practitioners to hear the views of experts and policy makers as well as engaging in lively discussion with their peers.
Highly valued aspects, recorded in our conference evaluations, are the opportunities delegates have for networking and sharing experience and perspectives. We know that these feed directly into their personal learning & professional activities.
Our approach gives us up to the minute views and information, on the basis of which we act as a channel for the voice of ‘the field’ to be heard by policy makers and bodies like the Dept. for Communities and Local Government and Lifelong Learning Sector Skills Council, so that far reaching decisions can be influenced.
Active Communities – Rural & Urban
We have played a leading role in the Rural Learning Partnerships Network. Following their realignment of responsibilities, support for work on Active Citizenship moved from the Home Office to the Department of Communities and Local Government and its Active Community Unit. Our involvement in this and related work is through the Community Sector Coalition, of which the ECA is a long-standing member.
In Wales we have collaborated with a wide range of agencies including Estyn for a well-attended conference addressed by Jane Davidson AM, the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning.
A Learning Country
The Assembly Government’s commitment to Lifelong Learning was endorsed at a meeting of Nations & regions in Brussels attended by the Chair of the ECA in Wales.
Pursuing a European Agenda
We are members of the European Association for the Education of Adults and our EU funded Grundtvig activities have include two citizenship related staff development projects.
We are currently engaged in Flexi-path, a project concerned with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), as it relates to staff development for adult learning practitioners. This is funded from the EU's Leonardo da Vinci programme.
The European Commission, Grundtvig-funded teacher training project TEACh, focused on aspects of active citizenship education for adults; while the Teddy Bear project demonstrated effective practice in intergenerational learning. As well as our membership of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) and participation in the annual ‘Salzburg Talks’ for Adult Education Principals http://www.vhs.or.at/286/ we have taken part in strategic talks at the European Commission around implementing the March 2000 ‘Lisbon Strategy’. We have also played an active role in the North Sea Commission’s Innovation and Education Group http://www.northsea.org/nsc/thematic_groups/economic_development/index.htm.