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  • Help and support

Lifelong learning

How to support continued learning
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Learning shouldn’t just be the preserve of children and young people. That’s what we believe at the Big Lottery Fund. We support a number of projects which encourage lifelong learning. They give people the skills and opportunity to change their lives for the better.

Our Community Access to Lifelong Learning programme supported people in this way. It developed community based learning centres to engage adults into learning.

By evaluating the programme we’ve been able to see how communities are best supported to engage with lifelong learning.

Factors for success

Factors that have proved important in developing successful projects include:

  • out-reach work to help target disadvantaged groups
  • making learning relevant to people’s everyday lives to encourage engagement
  • an informal atmosphere in centres to help engage people with bad memories of formal education
  • good quality and encouraging staff to help engage users and support them to use their skills further
  • using ICT (information communication technology) as a way to engage people in learning
  • using centres with a strong community activity focus to encourage broader impacts.

We have also seen that centres work best when they address a variety of target group needs:

  • confidence
  • access to computers and information technology
  • skills to match individuals’ circumstances
  • meeting new people
  • opportunities to move forward and use what has been learnt.

Understanding these factors helps us to plan successful projects going forward. They also highlight important areas for you to consider if your project encourages lifelong learning.

More about the research

We invested £95 million in the Community Access to Lifelong Learning programme. Since its introduction in 2000, 4,800 centres have received funding.

We commissioned Hall Aitken to evaluate the programme so we could find out how many people had been supported. It also investigated how they were helped and what approaches worked best.


Community Access to Lifelong Learning evaluation