Forward Communities

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Running from 1 July 2010 to 31 December 2011, the Forward Communities Partnership is funded by Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) to encourage opportunities for improved joint working between the voluntary and community sector (VCS), community learning providers and FE colleges.

The East Midlands VCS is vibrant, complex and diverse. It has at least 40 regional and 200 local networks and associations with a combined constituency of at least 30,000 organisations. There are also 18 general FE colleges in the region. All these providers are operating in a diverse region with varied economies and wide ranging social issues.

Both sectors have similiar aims in terms of supporting and developing people, however, there are often different drivers and strategic aims, which can inhibit communication and cross-sector working. While there have been a number of local cross sector interventions that have proven successful, there is often no structured approach to planning provision between both sectors.

Key to this project is the dual perspective approach with work carried out in both sectors. In developing the process the project will attempt to establish communication, identify joint working opportunities and facilitate the opportunity for partnership working between the VCS and FE, with the prospect of on-going collaboration once the project comes to a close.

It's time to bit the bullet, put aside the politics, the personalities and the possessiveness and take a risk on real collaboration. This is the right thing to do - not just in response to the fiscal position...most importantly, it's the right thing to do so that learners can benefit, rather than suffer, from funding challenges. Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency, 2010.

For more information on the Forward Communities Partnership, contact Jayne Quantrill, Learning and Skills Development Officer, on 0115 934 9572 or email

Forward Communities is funded by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS). LSIS was formed to accelerate quality improvement, increase participation and raise standards and achievement in the learning and skills sector in England. The fund promotes and supports innovative projects that have the potential to yield significant improvements in sector practice and performance. For more information visit

The Forward Communities: Cultivating Joint Working event, an interactive partnership event for the third sector, FE colleges and local authorities, took place on 11 May 2011 at the Atrium (formally ICCA), Nottingham. For more information, including links to presentations and other event documents, click here.

Informed by the work of the LSIS funded Forward Communities project, the joint One East Midlands and EMFEC strategic Community Development Network Meeting took place on 9 November at the EMFEC conference centre in Nottingham. For more information, including links to presentations and other event documents, click here.

The Forward Communities project has now published its final report, entitled Ducks In A Row. A PDF of the report is available below.