10 reasons to Save Adult Education

Please sign and share the link to the petition to Save Adult Education. Evidence shows successive and massive funding cuts over recent years and a decline in numbers of adult learners in part-time education.

Why does this matter?

There are countless reasons, but here are some:

  1. Education equips us for life, but the world keeps changing after our compulsory school leaving ages. Adults need to adapt to social and technological changes if they are to keep up with developments. What is the cost of leaving people behind?
  2. Being able to read and write English fluently and to use numbers accurately are basic skills, not only for jobs but for understanding how public services work, being a savvy consumer, reading health information, taking an active part in society and for leading a dignified life. What is the cost of low levels of adult literacy and numeracy?
  3. All government services are now designed to be ‘digital by default’. How does this work for people who can’t use technology effectively? What is the cost of digital exclusion?
  4. Young people leaving school now without specific grades in GCSE English and Maths have to reach those standards. How will they be supported if full-time education didn’t meet their needs and adult learning is being starved of resources? What is the cost of limiting adults’ educational opportunities when need is evident?
  5. Many school leavers with low attainment levels will become parents of children who follow the same pattern. Educating the parents through family learning partnerships is shown to break the cycle and improve attainment levels for both generations. What is the cost of continuing cycles of educational inequality?
  6. Education is not just for work. It promotes health and wellbeing, reducing isolation for older people and keeping their minds active, while harnessing the benefits of their experience and knowledge.What is the cost of not enriching older people’s lives through learning?
  7. Low levels of participation in voting means that democracy is not representative. Learning about how political systems work is important if we are to engage people in civic life. What is the cost of disenfranchised citizens?
  8. All aspects of life depend upon adaptability and active minds. Learning to learn is a skill in itself. What is the cost of failure to adapt?
  9. Education is a means to address inequality in many forms.What is the cost of inequality?
  10. Learning is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Art, literature, history and culture should be available to everyone and not only those who can afford them. What is life without interests and pleasure?

Every question about cost can be replaced with another, more positive, about opportunities and possibilities.

Spending on adult education is an investment. There is evidence that it can lead to saving money in various government departments by reducing reliance on public services.

How you can help

1. Write to your local MP – the sooner the better

2. Spread the word on social media

  • Use #saveadulteducation on twitter and tell the world about the impact adult education has had on your life, family and community
  • Join our Facebook Campaign at https://www.facebook.com/saveadulted

3. Sign our campaign petition at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/sae

Go to the WEA’s website for more information about the Save Adult Education campaign.

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Banking on a better future for women

Scottish Widows, the Insurance division of Lloyds Banking Group, organised an event in Parliament last night for WEA students, volunteers, staff, MPs from England, Scotland and Wales and people from partner organisations. We are grateful to Fiona Mactaggart MP, who not only hosted the evening, but who is well-known to WEA students in Slough.

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Fiona Mactaggart MP welcoming guests to the Parliamentary event

Scottish Widows is working with the WEA to support adults returning to education and to reduce financial and social inclusion, as well as building a greater understanding of financial planning.  400 Scottish Widows’ staff have been sharing their skills and knowledge with over 2,000 WEA students, volunteers and staff. Some have helped students in ESOL classes with speaking and listening skills while others have volunteered in employability workshops designed to help students to identify their strengths and skills for finding jobs. This film explains more:

The main purpose of the Parliamentary event was to launch a WEA report on “Securing a better future for women”. As well as Fiona Mactaggart, speakers included Toby Strauss, Group Director for insurance at Lloyds Banking Group and CEO of Scottish Widows, Ruth Spellman, the WEA’s CEO and Hazel Richardson, a WEA tutor from Yorkshire.

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Speakers: Top left: Fiona Mactaggart Top Right: Toby Strauss Bottom Left: Ruth Spellman Bottom Right: Hazel Richardson

The report examines priorities for helping women, particularly those who are older, into work or better job opportunities and development. It suggests urgent action in three areas:

  • giving women the confidence to take up and progress in work;
  • provide them with the skills businesses need;
  • and provide more opportunities for flexible working in the workplace.

Around 75% of WEA students are women, with many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds. The WEA has campaigned for the rights of women since it was founded in 1903, with early public advocacy of nursery education and the suffragette movement.

This report is part of the WEA’s ongoing campaign on Women Overcoming Disadvantage.  More information is available here.

You can find out more about the event and download the report here.

This Girl Can. ESOL students can.

The WEA’s curriculum is based on the four themes of Employability, Health and Wellbeing, Community Engagement and Culture. The themes are not mutually exclusive and it’s always good to see tutors being creative in how they use their time, imagination and resources to stimulate students and enrich their learning.

Hazel Richardson, a WEA tutor teaching in Bradford, is generous in sharing ideas and updates from her ESOL classes. Her tweets are a good example of reflective practice and show how adult ESOL students benefit from her keen interest and enthusiasm in inspiring and challenging them..

Hazel tweeted last term about students visiting Bagshaw Museum and voting in a local consultation. This week she reported that students watched the “This Girl Can” film as a stimulus for discussion and learning.

Hazel

The film is part of a topical campaign and raises a lot of issues for discussion. You can find out more about it here.

The campaign has been developed by Sport England and is attracting well-deserved attention. It’s a challenging choice to prompt critical thinking and debate as ESOL students improve their English language skills. The Independent reported on the campaign fairly positively here but a piece in the Guardian’s “Comment is free” section asserted that, “The This Girl Can campaign is all about sex, not sport”. You can read this opinion here.

What do you think of the “This Girl Can” campaign and how might it be embedded in teaching, learning and assessment across the curriculum?

Past blogs have included examples of literacy and numeracy sessions in supermarkets, with students putting their learning into practice in situations that are directly relevant to their daily lives, and of enriching ESOL lessons with the Six Book Challenge or Quick Reads.

Any other examples of resources or ideas to ginger up teaching and learning in ESOL or across educational themes to keep learning inspiring, challenging, relevant and effective?

“To tweet or not to tweet?” Question for educators

The use of technology and social media has featured prominently at recent WEA tutor events and it’s good to see more and more colleagues getting involved in blogging and tweeting. People are using Twitter to share links to interesting resources and case studies. Recent examples include links to a couple of tutor blogs on enriching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses with museum visits and reading challenges. See http://bit.ly/1c8vnhW and http://wp.me/p3hKtB-3W.

There are many benefits in tweeting, or micro-blogging in 140 characters or fewer, including some listed at http://bit.ly/Y3jfpz but it can seem a bit confusing, or even pointless, at first.

This video by Marc-André Lalande is a quick and straightforward introduction to Twitter for educators, especially people who can’t see its relevance or think it’s too time-consuming to use.

It’s 5 minutes long if you exclude the credits.

Twitter is a social medium with huge crowds of tweeters who have different interests, expectations, prejudices and codes of behaviour so people need to become savvy about how to weigh up the pros and cons of what and how we communicate – as educators do in practice in other everyday situations.

Today’s news has highlighted a dark side to Twitter as hostile tweeters bombarded a UK journalist, Caroline Criado-Perez, with multiple threats to rape and kill her following her successful campaign to have Jane Austen’s image shown on Bank of England £10 notes. At the time of writing, a 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of harassment offences against Criado-Perez, who campaigned for a female figure to appear on British banknotes

So, what do you think? To tweet or not to tweet, and why (not)? What are your experiences – good or bad?

A good deal of learning in store

WEA Tutor Kasia Webb’s recent report on the WEA’s West Midland Region’s website shows an imaginative and practical approach to teaching and learning. I’ve copied the text and photographs below.

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In December the Spoken English group from Leigh Road School went on a trip to the local Tesco supermarket. Armed with a task sheet, learners organised themselves into small groups of 2 or 3 to find the answers to questions, based on finding items and working out prices and good deals.

Learners were very positive about their the day out and said they found it useful and interesting.

One learner said, “I enjoyed the trip and it helped me understand special offers”.

Another said, “Before I didn’t know what 3 for 2 meant”, and another said, “I now know how I can make savings when I go shopping and I learnt a lot of new words”.

Despite the rain learners really enjoyed the trip, and all were unanimous in the feedback: “We want to do another trip!”

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Equality of understanding is a fairness issue and it’s good to see learning that is so relevant to people’s day-to-day lives, especially when personal and family budgets are tight for so many people. (Wonder if there’s a nearby Co-operative supermarket?)