Notley, Martin and Jones, Helen M.F. (1999) Going back to our roots: the role of transformatory education in the battle against social exclusion. In: The Final Frontier: Exploring Spaces in the Education of Adults. SCUTREA Annual Conference 1999. SCUTREA. ISBN 1869836421

In the UK, the 1990s have seen the creation and honing of government generated discourses on social exclusion and lifelong learning. To a remarkable extent these discourses are discrete. The Social Exclusion Unit's recent report 'Bringing Britain together: a national strategy for neighbourhood renewal' addresses various educational issues yet fails to include the phrase 'lifelong learning'. Government publications on lifelong learning dedicate similarly negligible space to social exclusion. The Green Paper 'The Learning Age: a renaissance for a new Britain' suggests that learning 'contributes to social cohesion and fosters a sense of belonging, responsibility and identity' and 'builds local capacity to respond to change' (Uden 1998). Yet in spite of rhetoric espousing 'joined up thinking' to 'joined up problems', the potential of adult education approaches to combatting social exclusion still has to be identified and analysed. As McNair recently observed 'we have not yet got the role of adult learning firmly enough into the minds of those shaping broader social policy as the Social Exclusion Unit's report ... demonstrates' (McNair 1999). Recently completed research which we undertook at a voluntary sector family resource centre situated in a deprived neighbourhood presents some key ideas from which educators could design initiatives grounded in familiar transformatory praxis yet innovatory in the current social exclusion context. In this paper we explore the issues affecting policy and draw on the research findings to show how community education presents a means of reconfiguring the established problem/solution welfare nexus.

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