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Bristol wins international award as a Learning City

Bristol has won the UNESCO Learning City Award 2017 – one of 16 cites selected by an international panel of judges, from over 50 applicants worldwide.

Bristol Learning City brings together over 70 local partners committed to creating and promoting learning opportunities for everyone, of all ages and from all communities, in every part of the city. 

In the last year a great deal has been achieved; a strong governance structure has been established; 130 learning ambassadors have been appointed to engage local communities; a new WORKS initiative to bridge the gap between education and employment; and University of Bristol, in partnership with Bristol Learning City, unveiled a pioneering scheme known as Bristol Scholars. The scheme will help disadvantaged students to access higher education and was launched by the Secretary of State for education.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “We are proud of our progress as a Learning City and it’s rewarding to see the hard work of the partnership recognised by UNESCO. Central to our ambition is to level the playing field and improve social mobility in Bristol. We need to get to a place where opportunities are not defined by background. Our Learning City partnership has already proven to be hugely beneficial thanks to the commitment of those involved. It has helped us promote Bristol on a national and international stage, and allowed us to work with partner cities from around the globe. I
have high hopes for what we can continue to achieve together.”

The Learning City partnership has helped to give the city a united voice on education and skills – and a change in the council’s constitution means that important decisions such as how and where to build more school places and how to get young people into work are now made collectively.

Arne Carlsen, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, said: “‘After observing first-hand the good progress Bristol has made in building a Learning City, which includes enlisting Learning Ambassadors to promote learning across the city, I am pleased to see Bristol among the UNESCO Learning City Awardees 2017.”

Professor Steven West, Vice-Chancellor at The University West of England and Learning City's lead for Learning for Work, said: “WORKS will connect talent to employment needs, helping to bridge the gap between education and employment – a key ambition of Bristol Learning City. Building on existing good practice, it will create physical and digital resources to be used by young people, employers, schools, colleges and universities. Young people build an electronic portfolio of work-based experiences which will add to their CVs and employers can promote the opportunities they have for placement experiences and work. This will help create fairer opportunities for all.”

Bristol will officially collect the award at a ceremony in September. The ‘Love Learning’ campaign used to launch the partnership was particularly praised by judges.