Kennedy (1997)

1997 Kennedy Report (text)


Kennedy Report (1997)
Learning Works
Widening Participation in Further Education

Coventry: Further Education Funding Council 1997
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


Background notes

Historical context

The 1992 Further and Higher Education Act had introduced competition between further education providers and had provided for the establishment of the Further Education Funding Council (FEFC).

In June 1997, the Widening Participation Committee of the FEFC, chaired by Helena Kennedy QC (1950- ) (pictured), presented its report Learning Works: Widening Participation in Further Education to the Chair of the FEFC, Sir Robert Gunn (1926-2015).

The report acknowledged that 'the introduction of competition in publicly-funded further education has been accompanied by improved responsiveness to learners' needs', but warned that, as some providers 'competed for those students most likely to succeed', competition also 'inhibited the collaboration needed to widen participation'. Further education needed to 'expand the demand for learning as a whole' (Kennedy 1997:35).

See also the 1996 report Inclusive Learning, produced by the FEFC's Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities Committee, chaired by John Tomlinson.

The report's main recommendations

The committee proposed an 'Agenda for Change', which included:

  • a government campaign to create a 'learning nation';
  • redistribution of public resources 'towards those with less success in earlier learning';
  • the establishment of 'a lifetime entitlement to education ... which is free for young people and those who are socially and economically deprived';
  • the creation of 'a national network of strategic partnerships to identify local need, stimulate demand, respond creatively and promote learning';
  • encouraging employers to provide learning centres linked to a 'University for Industry';
  • reform of financial support to students to promote equity and 'Welfare to Work through Learning'; and
  • the setting of new national learning targets and local targets for participation (Kennedy 1997:13-14).

The report online

The full text of the report (including the Annexes) is presented in a single web page.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 23 June 2018.