John Bercow to chair two great debates on lifelong learning and adult education

Former House of Commons Speaker John Bercow will chair two important Centenary Commission online debates on the theme of Building back bolder: learning for life in post-pandemic Britain. You are warmly invited to join.

On Monday 8th March, 6-7 p.m., the question will be Why does adult education matter now? John Bercow will discuss this question with:

  • Lord (David) Blunkett, former Secretary of State for Education and Home Secretary
  • Helen Chicot, Place Integration Lead at Rochdale Borough Council
  • Dame Helen Ghosh, Chair of the Centenary Commission on Adult Education and Master of Balliol College, Oxford
  • Selina Todd, Professor of Modern History at Oxford University and author of Snakes and Ladders: The great British social mobility myth

Further details and how to register are here.

On Wednesday 10th March, 6-7 p.m., the question will be: Has the Government got it wrong on adult education? John Bercow will be in discussion with:

  • Lord (Karan) Bilimoria, President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
  • Robert Halfon, MP, Chair of the House of Commons Education Committee
  • Sir Alan Tuckett, Vice Chair of the Centenary Commission on Adult Education and former Chief Executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education
  • Baroness (Alison) Wolf, Sir Roy Griffiths Professor of Public Sector Management, King’s College, London and advisor to the Prime Minister on Further Education policy.

Further details and how to register are here.

Sound Vindications of Adult Education

Four recent sound broadcasts discuss the importance of adult education.

Centenary Commissioners Sir Alan Tuckett and Melissa Benn talk about what it does for people today, and what is needed to make it better, in a lively discussion with Union Learning Rep Sue Mann on Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd’s Reasons to be Cheerful podcast (15 Feb). You can listen to this on Acast or Spotify or Apple.

Our Sir Alan is doing it again on Ayesha Hazarika’s Times Radio programme (20 Feb). You can listen to it here – you have to scroll through to the last twenty minutes (2:41:40) to catch the discussion between Ayesha, Alan, the TUC’s Kevin Rowan, and University of East London mature student Danielle Hambrook.

In two other recent programmes, Oxford Professor Selina Todd discusses with others adult education’s part in shaping modern Britain, and its relationship with class, social mobility and empire.

Radio 4’s Start the Week (8 Feb.) is a wide-ranging exploration of Empire and class, shaping Britain with Sathnam Sanghera and Anthony Anaxagorou.

In a Free Thinking discussion on Radio 3 (4 Feb), she explores Class and social mobility with David Goodhart, author of Head, Hand, Heart, socio-linguist Sadie Ryan, and data scientist Timandra Harkness.

What Selina Todd says is explored richly in her new book, Snakes and Ladders: The great British social mobility myth.

Levelling Up Adult Community Education

The House of Commons Education Select Committee recently called for better data on adult community learning. Dr Sue Pember, Centenary Commissioner and Policy Director for HOLEX (the professional body for adult education services, centres and institutions), has responded with an important report, Levelling Up Adult Community Education: What does the data tell us?

The report pinpoints the 10,000 places in England from which adult education is delivered, shows where little adult education is offered, reports on where there is a ‘delivery imbalance’, demonstrates that public money goes to learners from the most deprived areas, details the initial impact of Covid-19 on adult education learners, and shows that we need a new annual injection of £5.2 billion to fund a basic and intermediate skills levelling-up plan.

UK ministers accused of ‘settling scores’ by axing union adult learning fund

In an important article in The Guardian, Centenary Commissioner Melissa Benn (in conversation above with vice chair, Sir Alan Tuckett) shows how valuable the Union Learning Fund has been for mature students – especially from disadvantaged backgrounds. Despite this, and despite opposition from across the political spectrum, government ministers seem determined to end it. Read Melissa’s powerful article here.