Inspired by the UNESCO Learning Cities initiative, which looks at bringing local partners together to promote a wide variety of learning initiatives, Swindon Learning Town aims to promote inclusive, lifelong learning among its residents.
A Learning City or Town is defined as a place which uses its resources to promote learning not just among young people, but in families, communities and the workplace too. The aim of which is to create social cohesion, economic and cultural prosperity and facilitate sustainable development.
Empowering and inspiring individuals to learn through the mobilisation and pooling of resources from across the public and private sector is central to the Learning City approach. Every Learning City is different and develops its own strategy, although evidence suggests strong governance is a defining feature of successful Learning Cities.
In Swindon we are lucky insofar as we have a strong relationship between organisations that influence both formal and informal learning. Businesses, local government, educational institutions, museums and cultural institutions and civil society are all passionate advocates of lifelong learning and are well on board with the Learning Town project.
So what do we do/plan to do in the future? A few things.
The Swindon Challenge Board takes collective responsibility for driving improvement for pupils in Swindon schools and colleges. Meeting four times a year, it seeks to support and challenge local education providers to improve the standard of learning that they deliver. One aspect of this is attracting talented teachers to live and work in the area.
We are also working on an ongoing campaign to raise the aspirations of young people in Swindon. To this end, events such as Jobfest are a key part of this, helping to educate and inform young people and their parents on educational and career pathways.
Another key element of Learning Town is restoring parity between academic and technical education, something which Swindon is looking to address by securing Institute of Technology funding. Due to open their doors in 2020, IoT’s will offer a distinct, technical educational offering at further and higher levels (levels 4-7), as part of a broader STEM skills agenda. Swindon College is on the shortlist, with Excalibur Communications, Nationwide, Catalent Pharma Solutions and Bath ASU acting as anchor employees to champion the bid.
Whether you’re a resident of Swindon, a local employer or someone who works with young children or adults there are many opportunities to explore!
- Become a school governer - school governors are key to driving excellent governance and raising performance and achievement in schools
- Become a learning ambassador – be a role model for learners and demonstrate that learning is for everyone
- Tell us your learning story - we would like to hear from you to spread the word about learning
- Events – we had a programme of events suitable for learners of all ages, view it here
Across the UK only Swansea and Bristol have committed to UNESCO’s global initiative on the development of Learning Cities, and are part of the large network of cities from around the world who work together to share ideas and solutions. Swindon aims to be the first town in England to become part of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, affirming our strong commitment to lifelong learning.
For more information the Swindon Learning Town website is a fantastic portal to find out information on a wide-range of learning options. The website includes a wealth of stories to help people become inspired and start their own learning journeys.