Education needs of older people 'being ignored'

Over 50s in the UK are missing out on the health and lifestyle benefits offered by continued learning, according to a leading education expert.

Professor John Field of the University of Stirling Institute of Education has called for an end to the "unofficial ageism" present in existing structures of learning.

According to Prof Field, most of the UK's current learning opportunities for over 25s are focused on job skills which do not improve quality of life, yet there is evidence that participation in education can have health benefits.

According to a report commissioned by the Independent Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning, learning advisers in Nottingham are conducting a scheme whereby education programmes are prescribed instead of medication, while adult education services in Gloucester have begun care home learning schemes for the elderly.

Professor Field said: "There should be a major focus on the educational needs of older adults. The evidence that education can help maintain independence and autonomy is very good."

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