Active Learning for Active Citizenship

Active Learning for active citizenship in the voluntary and community sectors is central to the achievement of the Home Office vision for our communities.

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Organisations and individuals within communities can and do learn vital lessons through their experiences of participation, developing the capacity to transfer this learning to other contexts in civil society as well as to the world of work (Elsdon, 1997).

This learning can be significantly strengthened through educational provision, promoting active learning for reflexive citizenship. These lessons should have relevance across a range of policy areas concerned with the promotion of active citizenship, embracing values of social justice, participation, equality and diversity, plus co-operation and taking into account issues of gender, race and other aspects of marginalisation.

About the project

The Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR) has been commissioned to co-ordinate the evaluation of the Active Learning for Active Citizenship Programme starting from the unique opportunity for innovation and dialogue in pursuit of these values through the hub's self-evaluations.

Together we will share these processes of learning among the hubs, facilitating the consolidation of lessons learnt from these varying experiences, to inform the policy making process. We will relate to policies to strengthen social capital and promote regeneration, healthy living and lifelong learning, strengthening pathways for progression, and opportunites for accreditation. Our emphasis is upon participative ways of working with voluntary and community based groups and service providers, supporting critically reflective self-evaluation within each hub and developing shared learning between the hubs.

The Home Office's Active Learning for Active Citizenship Programme offers opportunities for learning from experiences through a set of hubs which are developing and delivering community based learning. Initially 3 hubs were established across Britain in summer 2004 followed by a further 3 hubs in autumn 2004 which potentially will be joined by 2 or 3 further hubs. In selecting the hubs the Home Office supports a diverse set of programmes each taking a different approach to active learning and targeting different populations and working with a range of partnerships. The six hubs

  • Black Country Hub is community based and encourages women from diverse communities to participate in their communities and public life through accredited courses that move from personal development to strategic thinking. Development of a women's support network ensures support.
  • Greater Manchester Hub, based at the Community Audit and Evaluation Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University provides accredited courses for community member and organisers to audit and evaluate the community or group they are involved with.
  • Lincoln Hub based at the University of Lincoln will develop and challenge 5 distinctive projects that take account of different aspects of citizenship targeting migrant workers, young people, people with mental health issues teachers, patients.
  • South Yorkshire Hub based at the Workers Educational Association is establishing mini community projects and community based courses aimed at community members and refugees in particular.
  • South West Hub is based at Exeter VSC and aims to challenge social and rural isolation by providing courses for excluded groups such as refugees, people with learning disabilities, ex-offenders while also developing a new approach to 'give voice' to these groups.
  • Stoke-on-Trent Hub is developing support and training resources for young people and community members to develop skills of effective citizens through contributing to quality of life in schools, colleges, clubs and communities.

The evaluation was completed in March 2006. See the Active Learning for Active Citizenship Report (PDF download) for the Home Office, 2006.

More information

Funder: Home Office

Research Team