How we created the blueprints for Cities of Learning UK: a place-based approach to enhancing lifelong learning and access to enrichment opportunities

Cities of Learning UK is a place-based approach to enhancing lifelong learning through digitally connecting individuals to learning, employment and civic opportunities within a defined locality. In 2017, Ardcairn’s Gráinne Hamilton, worked with the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), Digitalme (supported by FETL, City & Guilds and Ufi) and with three UK cities to develop blueprints and a digital platform prototype to demonstrate how the model could enrich the lives and prospects of city inhabitants, through connecting open digital badge-based learning pathways to city-wide opportunities.

What we did

“Through a series of learner focus groups and co-design workshops with local stakeholders, the project team engaged with representatives from a range of sectors and backgrounds across each city, including local and locally-based employers, formal education institutions, informal learning organisations, cultural, arts and heritage organisations, the third sector, and public services.


Using a collaborative design approach, the workshops enabled city stakeholders to: generate an overview of what a City of Learning would mean for them; establish local priorities; agree developing and under-represented sectors; define skill needs and key age groups to target (initially 14-25 year olds); and map existing learning provision and opportunity across each city.


Requirements for leadership, networks and a platform prototype were explored, developed and tested, and used as a basis for a blueprint for implementing change.”


“I know learning outside the classroom can give me the skills I need for the future, but I don’t know what’s out there in the city. If [Cities of Learning] can help with that, that will help a lot of young people like me.”

Participant of youth focus group