City Literary Institute

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City Lit
Keeley Street

, ,

TypeAdult education college
Principal & Chief ExecutiveMark Malcomson
City Lit in Keeley Street

City Lit is an adult education college in Holborn, central London, founded by the London County Council in 1919 which has charitable status. It offers part-time courses in areas such as overcoming stammering (for which it has won an award), communication for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, support for people with learning difficulties, languages, computing, and visual/performing arts.

In 2011, City Lit was graded "Outstanding" by government inspectors Ofsted.[2] More recently, in 2016, it was ranked "outstanding" for "personal development, behaviour and welfare" and "good" in four other categories.[2]


In 1918, following the war, the London County Council wanted to strengthen non-vocational education. They approved the opening of five literary institutes: Plumstead and Woolwich, Marylebone, Dalston, Peckham, and City Literary Institute (City Lit). They took their first students in September 1919. At the time, it was a radically different approach to adult education. Their first four classrooms were leased from a teacher training college.[3] City Lit is now the sole survivor of London’s Literary Institute movement.

In 2005, City Lit moved from its building in Stukeley Street to new, purpose designed premises in nearby Keeley Street [4], which are fully accessible [5] and include facilities such as studio spaces (for visual arts, drama and health and movement), "supported learning centre" (library), roof terrace with a herb garden, theatre and music recital room. Since then, they have also opened new photography, fashion and digital arts studios.[citation needed]

Accolades and criticism[edit]

In 2007 City Lit was the first adult education college to be given the Queen's Anniversary Prize, to mark their international reputation in stammering therapy; in 2011 City Lit were graded "Outstanding" by government Ofsted inspectors and in 2016 "Good".

In 2014, proposed cuts and redundancies, including to university access, English and maths GCSE courses, and deaf education, attracted controversy. The Guardian reports a "senior source" blamed the government and warned "We got outstanding in our last inspection. How are we going to maintain that outstanding education with fewer staff?". Criticism was directed at the college's marketing budget and the expansion of short courses such as "graffiti" cross-stitch, beer tasting and burlesque. Principal Malcomson said the advertising expenditure was intended in part to support "more charitable provision" in the future.[6]

The 2016 Ofsted report recommended that the "minority" of education which did not reach an adequate standard be eliminated, more challenging goals be introduced for students of greatest ability, English-language learners be provided with adequate lesson time to speak error-free English, and efforts made to ensure less able learners have learned and understood what was taught.[2]


City Lit offers subjects in the areas of art, drama, dance, creative writing, history and politics, philosophy, languages ranging from French and German to Persian and Korean, computing, counselling, music, and fitness.[7] As of May, 2017, listed 1156 courses.[8]

The college also offers specialist areas, including education for deaf adults, [9], courses for adults with learning disabilities,[10] and work in stammering therapy.[11]

See also[edit]

Other adult education providers in Camden, London include the nearby Mary Ward Centre, Birkbeck College (a university), and the Working Men's College.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c, Ofsted Communications Team (28 January 2019). "Find an inspection report and registered childcare".
  3. ^ ""City Lit finally gets a £21m home fit for its heroics", TES, 5 September 2003". Archived from the original on 21 April 2013.
  4. ^ "Our History". City Lit Help Centre.
  5. ^ "Our Building". City Lit Help Centre.
  6. ^ Swain, Harriet (15 July 2014). "Redundancies at City Lit as college 'focuses on beer-tasting and burlesque'" – via
  7. ^ "city lit annual review" (PDF). city lit. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 April 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  8. ^ "CITY LIT courses - details of 684 courses".
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′54″N 0°07′12″W / 51.5151°N 0.1199°W / 51.5151; -0.1199