School of Continuing Education


Vision for Continuing Education in Wakefield

The School of Continuing Education Centre in Wakefield would be the focus for part-time and continuing education in Wakefield and its surrounding district, and would have the potential to make Leeds the pre-eminent centre for continuing education and lifelong learning in the UK.

Wakefield and its district

First of all, the Continuing Education activities would be located in Wakefield (not at Bretton), at what is currently the Manygates site. Wakefield District has a population of over 317,000 and includes Wakefield itself in the North West, the Five Towns (Normanton, Castleford, Pontefract, Featherstone and Knottingley) in the North East, and four further towns including Hemsworth in the South East. It has Objective 2 status because of the industrial restructuring that has taken place (there are 800 miners in 1999 versus 20,000 in 1984), and for funding under the Single Regeneration Bid. Between 1984 and 1986, male full-time employment declined by 26% (compared to 9.5% nationally) and female full-time employment declined by 3.9% (increased 12% nationally). The increase in female economic activity since 1984 was 11.2% in Wakefield and 21.1% nationally. Wakefield has a particularly high proportion of persons of working age who are invalidity benefit claimants.

It will not, therefore, be a surprise to learn that educational attainment for the Government’s Lifetime Targets 1 and 2 amongst the workforce is lower than both regional and national levels.

The Wakefield Centre would therefore bring the academic resources of the University of Leeds to people who have had little or no opportunity for higher education. Through the Centre, the University would therefore contribute to the development of lifelong learning in an economically and socially disadvantaged area. The Centre would also enable the University to implement its Lifelong Learning and Widening Participation strategies as part of this merger.

The Centre would work with existing partners of Bretton and the University to respond to regional and national agendas for widening participation, lifelong learning and economic and social regeneration. We have worked hard to establish a good working relationship with the Wakefield Lifelong Learning Partnership and the Council, and these efforts have been warmly welcomed. In particular, our colleagues welcome the chance to integrate higher education in Wakefield into a strategic approach to lifelong learning.

The vision for continuing education

As in the Report to Senate in May, we still see our approach as having four main elements:

  1. the establishment of new continuing education provision tailored to the needs of Wakefield and the surrounding area;
  2. the further development of existing provision in social work and counselling at under- and postgraduate levels;
  3. the integration of the existing Pathways to Higher Vocational Training (PHVT) programme into pathways into the University of Leeds;
  4. the expansion and enhancement of research activity and expertise in lifelong learning, to supplement that already in existence in Leeds through the Lifelong Learning Institute; such expansion would include the delivery of the Masters in Lifelong Learning in Wakefield, and new research postgraduate opportunities.

Opportunities for development

The plan shows an increase from the existing provision in social work, counselling and PHVT from 53 FTEs in 1999/2000 to 308 FTEs in 2008/09; the increase in the plan is for continuing and part-time undergraduate education. We also have plans to increase postgraduate education in social work and lifelong learning (see above). In addition, we anticipate further financial support from special funding initiatives (Objective 2, SRB, HEFCE special initiatives) for a number of developments. These have not been shown in the financial plan. They include:

  1. regionally funded HEFCE initiatives to widen participation
  2. work-related learning
  3. employee development programmes (especially under Objective 2)
  4. Wakefield Lifelong Learning partnership programmes.

The opportunities for developing self-financing professional lifelong learning programmes such as short courses and conferences have also yet to be fully explored, but both the Wakefield Centre and the Bretton campus are conveniently situated for regional and national recruitment. Again, these developments are not shown in the plan.


Miriam Zukas

20 November 2000