The City of Wolverhampton has been nominated to be considered for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Learning City Award 2021 by the UK National Commission for UNESCO.
The nomination follows the assessment of the Wolverhampton City Learning Region award application which was signed by the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Greg Brackenridge.
The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) is expected to announce the results on behalf of the award selection jury in September 2021. The UNESCO Learning Cities Award honours cities that demonstrate outstanding progress, creativity and innovation in promoting lifelong learning opportunities across all ages and abilities.
The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, which aims to support and accelerate lifelong learning currently consists of 229 active member cities from 55 countries which are united in their determination to promote lifelong learning and, through it, sustainable development in their cities.
Wolverhampton has been a member City of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) since 2018 and is one of only two cities in England to be a part of the network. It is building a learning city through the Wolverhampton City Learning Region initiative.
The key achievements of Wolverhampton highlighted in the award application towards achieving the nomination include the University of Wolverhampton’s £120 million investment in Springfield Campus. The brownfield regeneration project has transformed 12 acres of disused land into a Super-Campus for Architecture and Built Environment, integrating education for sustainable development through construction, low carbon technology, green agenda and circular economy. The site will also be home to the National Brownfield Institute (NBI) which will make a key contribution to the City’s commitment to developing a sustainable circular economy.
Plans are being progressed for a City Learning Quarter to regenerate and transform an area in the city centre to establish a new state-of-the-art skills and learning hub. The site will provide a new state-of-the art campus for City of Wolverhampton College, as well as the City of Wolverhampton Council's Adult Education Service and the existing Central Library to enable the development of apprenticeships and foster entrepreneurship.
Educational standards in schools across the city are continuing to improve through effective educational planning and monitoring. As of 2021 currently 86% of schools are rated good or outstanding.
Wolverhampton Learning Communities, a grassroots initiative (initiated by City of Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton Learning Platform CIC) focuses on equity and inclusion through learning opportunities for residents in neighbourhoods and communities, especially those socially excluded. Since its development more than 20,000 residents have been engaged.
Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Greg Brackenridge, said:
“I am delighted Wolverhampton is nominated to be considered for the UNESCO Learning City Award 2021 as this recognises the innovative and impactful lifelong learning practices and strong partnership working going on in our city.
“This nomination is testament to the determination of the Wolverhampton City Learning Region partners and organisations across the city who are supporting residents to access lifelong learning opportunities and realise aspirations, developing a skilled workforce and engaging adults in learning to improve health and wellbeing.
“We have all just come through one of the most difficult years that any of us can remember. We are facing a number of key challenges as a city due to the Covid-19 pandemic and our ‘Relighting Our City’ recovery commitment includes plans for creating more learning opportunities to support our residents, communities, businesses and organisations across all sectors and to aim to create economic prosperity and sustainable development to help our recovery. We understand the transformative power of learning and education to help tackle challenges in our city and the difference participation in learning can make to people’s lives.”
Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor at the University, said:
“Wolverhampton’s nomination to be considered for this learning city award is a notable success because it recognises the city’s exemplary progress in promoting inclusive education and lifelong learning, in line with the University’s long-term Vision 2030.
“We are committed as a Civic University to continue engaging with our local communities and working in partnership with our local partners to support building a learning city through the Wolverhampton City Learning Region (WCLR) initiative.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic it has been an incredibly difficult time for all sectors and the key strength in our city is the success of us all working in partnership to focus on building a better and brighter future for our city and communities. WCLR promotes and celebrates learning throughout life and helps to position learning and education at the heart of the city’s approach and recovery from the pandemic to help tackle social and economic challenges, ensuring that learning is central to social and economic development within the region. It is vital we improve the city’s learning, apprenticeship and employment offers to young people and adults in the City of Wolverhampton.”
The University of Wolverhampton and City of Wolverhampton Council launched the City of Wolverhampton Learning Region Initiative in 2017 along with key partners and organisations linked to economic and social development, including City of Wolverhampton College, Adult Education Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton Learning Platform, Wolverhampton Learning Communities Partnership, Voluntary and Community Sector, Local Enterprise Partnerships, employers, schools and colleges.
Partners are working closely together to increase access to lifelong learning across the city to support residents to realise their potential and aspirations, develop a skilled workforce and engage adults in learning to improve health and wellbeing.
The diverse range of stakeholders came together at a launch hosted by the University to learn about the UNESCO learning city concept and determine how it can best work for people in the city and surrounding areas. Wolverhampton has since become a globally connected learning city through engagement with the UNESCO GNLC network of cities from around the world, sharing best practice and inspirations.
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