You might have thought so at the celebration event for Community Learning Champions (CLCs) in London today. The minister spoke to an audience of CLCs and supporting organisations and, as before, praised the role of informal adult community learning in 'changing life choices and life chances' and its impact on the 'common good'.
He then watched one of the videos which has been produced to show the success of the scheme click here to view and seemed so moved that he stood and spoke unscripted of how the CLCs were changing expectations, building confidence and deliverying a sense of self-worth in communities across the country. He concluded by saying that we must keep this work going.
In a way his reaction was understandable: the project seems to have really struck a chord in all sorts of places - particularly in areas of disadvantage or within organisations meeting the needs of vulnerable people. The event heard the welcome news that LSIS (the Learning & Skills Improvement Service) has provided modest funding for next year to allow the maintenance of the national website, registration and badging scheme. Whilst this doesn't provide development money it is clear (despite my initial skepticism) that registration and badging has been key to the profile and networking of Champions.
The minister indicated that he expected the Review of Informal Adult Community Learning to draw on these developments. I think he is right, the Community Learning Champions model has managed to combine local innovation and diversity within a national framework and identity creating a vital 'off the peg' model for volunteering in Adult Community Learning. I was pleased that so many Champions spoke so warmly of the training course the WEA developed.
We must all make sure that this work is integrated into the review of IACL, keep the momentum up and move away from regarding this sort work as a tolerated subset of the Skills Agenda. Instead, it's clear that the minister supports what many of us want: communities take the lead.