Gordon joined Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn today, as he announced the makeup of the party’s ambitious national Lifelong Learning Commission, which aims to transform the educational opportunities and life chances for people of all ages across Blackpool and the rest of the country.  

In his role as Shadow Minister for HE, FE and Skills, Gordon has been working for several months to develop the setting up of this new commission, drawing on his previous work experiences as an Open University and WEA tutor. In his speech announcing the new commission, Jeremy paid personal tribute to Gordon saying: “I want to thank Gordon Marsden, whose passion for lifelong learning has been crucial in bringing the commission together.”

The 14 experts brought together by Gordon cover a wide range of experience in skills, Higher & Further Education and Lifelong learning. The commission will be co-chaired by former Education Secretary Estelle Morris and CWU General Secretary Dave Ward. Gordon said: “I hope they will be in a position to produce a detailed report with their proposals later in the year.

“Eight years of Tory Government cuts to college and council budgets have decimated the ability for thousands of people across Blackpool to reskill and train. When you combine this with the tripling of tuition fees and replace maintenance grants with loans, there are now far fewer learning opportunities for part-time and older learners locally and across the country.

“Labour will change this and our commission will make sure lifelong learning is a vital part of building the party’s National Education Service. When I went to the Blackpool Centre for the Unemployed last week, the people there told me a properly funded and joined up lifelong learning system was central to dealing with the challenges facing Blackpool and other small town economies – whether it’s on Brexit, insecure employment or the future automation of work.

“The next Labour Government will make Lifelong learning available to everyone no matter their background, their employment status or previous education. We have so much talent and potential in Blackpool and I want to see it flourish. Locally based companies such as Baxter Life Care are already doing some of this by giving people of all ages and particularly women in some of the town’s most deprived areas, the opportunities to train and gain industry recognised qualifications in healthcare. I want to see the same done across other sectors and areas as well.

“The Commission will make detailed proposals on how to integrate qualifications, introduce a credit system to make qualifications transferable and make it as easy as possible for people to pick up or pause their studies at times that work for them.”

Gordon was also accompanied at the launch by his fellow North West colleague and MP Angela Rayner – Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education. He said: “It’s been fantastic to have Angela’s unstinting support in bringing forward this major initiative, designed to address the education and skills challenges of the next 10/15 years. Her own life story owes a huge amount to her time at a FE college, which is why we both feel equally passionate about Lifelong learning.”

Membership of Independent Advisory Panel

Co-Chairs – Estelle Morris and Dave Ward (CWU)
Graeme Atherton – Director of the National Education Opportunities Network
Joyce Black – Assistant Director, R&D, Learning and Work Institute
Amatey Doku – Vice President Higher Education, National Union of Students
Kirstie Donnelly – Managing Director, City and Guilds
Vicky Duckworth – Professor in Education, Edge Hill University
Alison Fuller – Professor – Vocational Education and Work, UCL
Ewart Keep – Director of Centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance, Oxford University
Mary Kellett – Vice Chancellor, Open University
David Latchman – Master of Birkbeck
Seamus Nevin – Chief Economist, EEF
Dave Phoenix – Vice Chancellor, London South Bank University
Carole Stott – Former Chair of the Board and Trust, Association of Colleges
Matt Waddup – National Head Of Policy & Campaigns – University and College Union
Tom Wilson – Chair of UFI, Former Head of Unionlearn

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