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This sector is possibly the most difficult to define. It includes for
example courses which could eventually lead to a vocational qualification,
through to subject-based or community-related interest groups. The main
· Adult/Continuing Education
· Subject-based interest groups
· Other community 'learning' organisations
· Educational service organisations.
These are now discussed in turn
Adult and Continuing Education
This includes mainly short courses delivered via local education authorities,
universities and colleges often via education departments and continuing
education centres. They also embrace organisations such as the Workers
Education Association (WEA - 100,000 students at any one time - 10,000
courses) and U3A (University of the Third Age - 522 groups nationally
- 130,000 members; age group + 50 years old). Some of these courses
are vocational, leading to qualifications of the type which can also
be gained in schools (q.v.) or GNVQs/NVQs. Some other courses can be
used to build up credits towards certificates, diplomas, or as part
of a progression towards degrees. Many courses are however not tailored
to academic or qualification-based achievement, but are pursued for
personal satisfaction and enjoyment.
Amongst the most popular subject areas especially in the less vocational
fields, are those related to the environment (including landscape),
Earth science (including geology and palaeontology) and history (including
industrial, architectural, cultural and transport history). Participants
are often the same as those people heavily engaged in community activities
and decision-making, especially in rural areas.
Subject based groups
These are equally wide-ranging and include for example:
Local or regional geology societies/groups (about 50 independent
groups almost all area-based, but some subject-based, most of which
are affiliated to the Geologists' Association) see list at: www.ga.org.uk.
Rockwatch is a national membership organisation for young 'geologists',
which organises a number of regional activity events (last year 7 outdoor
events of which 4 were to quarries), administered by the Geologists
Association. Contact email@example.com
Nationwide Geology Club is a national charity established c30
years ago aimed at encouraging geological fieldwork, especially for
young people and families. Contact Lynda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
RIGS Groups - (RIGS = Regionally Important Geological Sites)
c50 groups covering most of Great Britain, but with some notable exceptions
e.g. Durham. Their aim is to identify/conserve/improve/promote awareness
of geological/geomorphological sites in their areas. They are affiliated
to UKRIGS which has a co-ordinating role. Activities range considerably
from group to group, but may include site conservation, interpretation,
local events, improving access and education. A number of RIGS groups
in the West Midlands and adjacent areas have formed the highly active
Open University Geological Society (OUGS) - comprises students,
former students and tutors of OU courses. OUGS is organised regionally
and arranges field and industrial visits as part of the OU student support
programme and thereby delivering most of the field experience/learning
for OU related courses. Members are mainly mature students with other
work commitments. Eighteen branches in the UK have 2800 members; details:
County' Wildlife Trusts - 47 independent trusts in UK affiliated
to the Royal Society of Nature Conservation (RSNC). Each trust administers
nature reserves and often has a large local membership e.g. in Derbyshire
40 reserves (of which about half are related to former extractive sites)
and 7,000 members. Junior members can belong to local 'Watch' groups.
Other subject-based organisations which may consider to have linkages
with the industry, include: preservation/conservation bodies, local
history/heritage groups (particularly industry history societies), local
civic societies, local branches of the Ramblers Association, Campaign
for the Protection of Rural England. Museums and libraries may be able
to advise about local contacts.
Other community learning organisations
Community organisations which may have a 'learning brief' include
parent-teacher associations, youth clubs, uniformed youth groups, church
groups, bodies represented on quarry liaison groups, Rotary Clubs, Lions,
Inner Wheel, Townswomens' Guilds, Womens' Institutes, Probus Clubs,
Soroptimists, luncheon clubs, bird watching clubs, 'Friends' organisations
(e.g. of cathedrals, country houses, museums, etc), organisations associated
with churches, chapels, etc.
Education Service/Information Organisations
Local museums are often a key reference point, whether they be run by
a local authority, an independent charity, or privately. Registered
museums have to achieve specific standards and policies relating to
collections and are usually linked to regional or local authority networks,
which may also include libraries and archive/record services. Those
museums with geological collections often have members of the Geological
Curators Group (GCG - email: email@example.com).
Museums particularly engaged in education often have members in the
Group for Education in Museums (GEM) Details:
Local libraries or tourist information offices are often able to advise
on local specialist contacts, e.g. history researchers or interest groups
and about events and local activities.
National Association of Mining Historical Organisations (NAMHO) includes
museums, heritage and mines exploration societies related to the extractive
industries (see list at website www.namho.org).
Field studies centres usually offer courses, either to all-comers,
to groups, members or operate as remote extensions to an LEA's conventional
education services. About 150 English study centres are members of the
National Association of Field Study Officers (NAFSO) (listed at www.nafso.org.uk).
At least a third appear to be in particularly important geological areas
and a few are known to have established links with quarries e.g. Leeson
House, Dorset, and Stibbington, Cambs.
They may be LEA, privately or charitably managed. For example, the
Field Studies Council (FSC) operates a number of long standing centres
in England and Wales (Contact:
www.field-studies-council.org). Some such as Malham or Preston Montford
(Salop) are near quarrying areas. Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire LEAs
and various London boroughs have centres in/adjacent to the Peak District
as do TocH, the Methodist, evangelical and Catholic churches. Liverpool
City Council run the Colemendy Centre, Mold which has a working relationship
with Aberduna Quarry. A number of National Park Authorities have residential
centres notably the Yorkshire Dales, Lake and Peak Districts (and in
Wales, Snowdonia). Losehill Hall in the Peak District works with two
quarries to provide environmentally-based courses, including role play.
Comments on the sector
Organisations in this sector are distinguished by their diversity. The
number of people engaged is impossible to quantify, but as some of the
parent/umbrella national bodies e.g. National Trust or RSPB claim memberships
of over a million people, the total number of people involved in such
activities represents a significant proportion of the national population.
This is relevant not only in numerical terms, but concentrated in social
groups B-C1, C2 and often with (or aspiring to) post school qualifications.
As such, they closely correlate with decision-makers and opinion formers
in local communities.
Their varied nature is also reflected in their organisational approach
to making arrangements (some are highly efficient, some not so; some
work through a system of national 'rules', others do not) and in their
motives for engagement with the industry and preconceptions about the
industry. Various considerations therefore arise, for example, attitudes
to arrangements for visits; insurance cover may be through a national
scheme or non-existent; few if any will have their own safety clothing
(except certain interest groups), the need for pre briefing, in terms
of safety agendas, discipline during a visit; awareness of the industry
as a whole, its contribution to local and national well-being (not only
in economic terms), are all especially important.
Views were sought from a number of people involved in adult and continuing
education in various parts of the country. In some areas and in some
systems, the number of adult education classes has declined in recent
years and the increased cost of enrolment has deterred membership. The
number of places offering Earth science/geology courses for example,
has declined significantly. In a number of instances universities (e.g.
Nottingham), have pulled out of serving as regional centres to concentrate
on their 'home' county, but the vacuum has not been replaced by an offer
from the newer universities which claim to serve those areas now left
out of the old system. In contrast, some of the LEA-supported courses
even in the same areas, especially those with a more vocational appeal,
have increased significantly thanks in part to the Government's policy
to support learning for post 16 year olds. The underlying reason for
this apparent contradiction was highlighted in a recent report - 'Business
as Usual' by the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education.
NIACE pointed out that overall levels of participation in adult learning
had remained more or less unchanged since last year but despite increases
in Government funding, levels since 1996 had fallen on average by 19%.
Most of the recent investment and particularly that by LEAs, is being
channelled to basic skills, particularly for recent school leavers,
in line with Government achievement targets. Numbers of older people
and conventional courses have been depleted as a result (see www.niace.org.uk).
Risk assessment for any out-of-centre courses has become more rigorous,
so visits to any sites which are perceived (e.g. by insurers or legal/registrars
departments) as dangerous, are almost always now avoided. One respondent
notes that the latter was interpreted as 'particularly those sites where
blasting takes place'. In one instance, hitherto health and safety equipment
had been supplied by a society for its members, but the society's insurers
indicated that the organisation's liabilities were increased; as a result,
members have to supply their own safety wear. However, in some instances
companies were reluctant to rely upon same. In terms of general usage
of quarries, one adult education department used to visit say 20 quarries
a year with groups (from 30 classes) this was now down to 'a handful'
(from 10 classes); others said that they visited '2 or 3' at most a
year; while others now make no visits apart from those to former quarried
In general, respondents from this sector reported that the smaller
quarries and independently run companies were far more flexible and
amenable and particularly those mainly producing building stone. Part
of the explanation might lie in the increasing levels of bureaucracy,
both on the part of the group organisations and larger companies involved.
Another reason may relate to the practical difficulties in arranging
visits in evenings and at weekends. However this negative perception
does not appear to reflect adequately, the information coming back from
companies, in that most in the industry appear to welcome the opportunity
for opening up dialogue with such groups. That said, and although by
no means claiming to be a representative survey, very complementary
comments were made about some of the larger sites e.g. in respect of
Torr Works, Whatley, Shap, and although strictly outside the scope of
this survey, about a number of non-aggregates sites- Hope, Ancaster,
and Melton Ross.
It was evident that a fair proportion of visits were probably being
made to former quarries (especially gravel pits) without the group members
(and sometimes even the leaders) being aware of a site's previous working
status. This is particularly likely to be the case with ecology, wildlife,
bird and environmental groups, many individual members of which may
well be relatively antagonistic to mineral workings.
There appears to some scope for companies to be more pro-active here,
and to increase further, community awareness in this particular sector
by offering to accommodate more site visits, speakers for group meetings
and news contributions to group newsletters etc.