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Life changers tell government how it is

28 September 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

Two of UCU's celebrated life changers told Bill Rammell, minister of state for lifelong learning, further and higher education, this week exactly what was needed if any government was to seriously address the issues currently blighting further and higher education.

Joe Baden, who runs the Open Book project at Goldsmiths, and Jane Hadcock, an ESOL teacher from East Anglia, joined Sally Hunt and Bill Rammell MP at a UCU fringe meeting entitled 'Community cohesion - who needs educating?'

Opening the event, Jane Hadcock highlighted that free ESOL courses were being cut from September. She said that Bill Rammell had stressed that language skills were needed to help give confidence, create better job prospects and promote community cohesion, questioning why such changes were taking place.

Opening his address, Bill Rammell explained that he was the first in his family to go to university, reiterating both his and the government's commitment to widen access to education for disadvantaged groups. Regarding the ESOL cuts, he confirmed that the government would assess the 'unintended consequences' of the current regime.

Joe Baden told the meeting that 'accidents of birth' still determined educational opportunities and aspirations of young people and pointed out that life expectancy in some deprived areas mirrored that seen in the nineteenth century.

He attacked the 'pseudo-intellectual posers' working as widening participation workers who knew little about the working class. Indeed, Mr Baden claimed that cultural imperialism was taking place as the middle class driving force behind education was trying to civilise the working class and immigrant societies in its own image.

Nominations are already coming in for this academic year's Life Changers awards. The Life Changers campaign celebrates the life-transforming potential of further and higher education and the Awards help to illuminate the amazing work being undertaken by our members every day.