The concept of community education dates back to Henry Morris´s 1920s vision of a village college as the nucleus of a holistic adult education system for a local community. He proposed that the village college should be the focal point of community life, integrating educational, social, cultural and recreational activities; catering for all interests and all ages from early childhood to very old age. Although Morris´s vision never materialised in its pure form it formed the basis for community education for much of the
A variety of more pragmatic and economic versions of community schools appeared in various parts of the country after the second world war. To a greater or lesser extent they attempted to integrate compulsory schooling and adult education. At first these were in predominantly rural areas but later "community
education" became part of the strategy for tackling inner-city problems. But despite many claims for the success of community education, the reality was more often "adult education on the cheap" (Wallis & Mee, p.8) with the statutory requirements of children nearly always taking precedence over the interests of
adult students. Nevertheless, community education has the capacity to be relatively free of restrictions and regulation; to be more informal and sometimes more innovative than other forms of adult education.
It lays greater emphasis on responding to the needs of the learner and the community defined in terms of common residence, shared interest and social purpose. It aims to encourage and empower people to take charge of their own institutions, their own education and their own lives (London Borough of Newham, p.17), and to be a popular and democratic form of adult education which simultaneously respects diversity and promotes solidarity. (Martin, p.141.)
London Borough of Newham (1985) Policy Statement, quoted in Martin (1996) p.138.
Martin, I. (1996) "Community Education: the Dialectics of Development" in: Fieldhouse, R. et al, A
History of Modern British Adult Education Leicester, NIACE
Wallis, J., Mee, G. (1983) Community Schools: Claims and Performance University of Nottingham