ECA Annual General Meeting

The ECA will be holding its Annual General Meeting at the UEA London.

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Celebrating Informal Learning and Well-Being in Later Life

The ECA's colleagues at the Association for Education and Ageing (AEA) will be holding a conference looking at informal learning and well-being in later life.  It's AGM will also be held on the day .

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ECA Annual General Meeting and Conference 2012

2012 ECA AGM and conference, Changing States - Lifelong Learning at a Time of Transition.

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ECA Annual General Meeting and Conference 2011

ECA 2011 AGM and Annual Conference 'Next Steps: Defining the future of the ECA'.

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ECA Eastern Region Meeting

The ECA is holding an Eastern Region meeting for its members, associated networks and interested parties to discuss and formulate responses to the current BIS consultation 'New Challenges, New Chances: Next Steps in Implementing the Further Education Reform Programme'.

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ECA Annual General Meeting

The Association will hold its Annual General Meeting at the Hilton London Euston Hotel, London on Saturday 13th November 2010.  This year we have decided to incorporate the AGM within a Members Forum looking forward to the future.

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Senior Adult Educators - Recognising their competences

Conference to launch the Flexi-Path Toolkit aimed at helping senior adult educators across Europe to demonstrate their competences.

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Transforming Adult Learning Seminar incorporating the AGM

This event, as part of the Learning Revolution Festival, showcased the ECA's transformational projects from the past year.  The programme included the Annual General Meeting. 

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Better Together Building Social Capital through Co-operative Community Based Learning

This LSEN Conference, in co-ooperation with the ECA, is aimed specifically at organisations in Manchester that play a significant role in interfacing directly with communities and have, as the key focus of their activity, an involvement in community engagement, community development, community/informal learning. We are seeking out 'Expert Witnesses' and 'Good Practice Groups' who are willing to spend the day with us and to provide the knowledge, expertise , skills and resources which the working groups need to put together their thoughts and ideas around the Charter and the proposed projects.

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The East Midlands 'Make a Difference' Campaign Roadshow

The East Midlands 'Make A Difference' campaign roadshow is on Friday 5 December, 10 – 4pm, at the The Brite Centre, Braunstone Avenue, Braunstone, Leicester LE1 3LE.

This event is organised in partnership with NCVO Campaigning Effectiveness, Novas Scarman Group, Leicester Adult and Skills Learning Service and LeicestHERday

The 'Make a Difference' Campaign Roadshows are a series of 9 regional events organised in partnership between NCVO's Campaigning Effectiveness and Novas Scarman Group as part of the CapacityBuilders Improving Support programme for Campaigning and Advocacy.The events are open to voluntary sector organisations, support provider/umbrella or second tier organisations, front line organisations and individual campaigners and are an opportunity to meet others involved in campaigning in your area, network, learn new skills and take part in workshops specific to the needs of your region.  

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Leadership in Third Sector and Adult Learning for Leadership- Saturday 11th October 2008

This conference focuses on leadership and governance as it relates to both adult learning and the community and voluntary sector. The conference will incorporate the Association's Annual General Meeting.  


"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want because he wants to do it"   -Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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The Environment as an Informal Adult Learning Issue - 6 May 2008, London

Skills Minister speaks at Environment Event

To View a Full Report of the event, including images and highlights from David Lammy's speech, click here. 


The ECA hosted a seminar at Central Hall, Westminster, on the 6th May, chaired by Professor Bob Fryer, Chief Learning Advisor at the Department of Health.  The aim was to inform responses to the Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills consultation "Informal Adult Learning - Shaping the Way Ahead"


This event drew on a wide knowledge and experience in the fields of informal adult learning and environmental issues to help generate evidence to the Government on effective policy which addresses national priorities. 

Speakers included David Lammy MP, Minister for Skills, DIUS who gave the Keynote speech; Professor Bob Fryer, Chief Learning Advisor for the Department of Health who Chaired; Professor Shirley Ali Khan, Education Director, The Bulmer Foundation; Sophie Duncan, Project Executive for Breathing Places, BBC Learning; Joy Greasley NFWI Vice-Chair and Chair of Training Committee; Peter Templeton, Director of Education, Quality and Strategy, Workers' Education Association; Alan Tuckett, Director of Niace and Mark Walton, Head of Every Action Counts. 

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The Power of Learning

Creating inclusive, prosperous communities in the East Midlands organised by Take Part East Midlands & Neighbourhood Learning

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Innovation & Inspiration: the Crafts in Adult Learning

This one day event which incorporated the AGM, was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Kensington.

Planning for our seminar started before the changes in departmental structures were announced by Gordon Brown. Thus while our focus was on the crafts, which have felt the impact of successive Government actions, we used this event to set an agenda for the incoming national executive in its relationship with the new departments.


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Rural Learning Seminar

This event, supported by the Commission for Rural Communities, focused upon rural learning issues and included presentations of rural, intergenerational and vocational projects.
In celebration of the success of the Grundtvig Teddy Bear Project, an associated event, the Teddy Bears' picnic took place on the day. The Picnic bought together children and elders who had participated in this intergenerational project.

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British Council Conference: Celebrating European Lifelong Learning Opportunities

The Conference
The Celebrating European Lifelong Learning Opportunities conference hosted, by the British Council, was a unique opportunity for education professionals to find out more about the opportunities provided by the EU programmes for all phases and sectors of UK education.

Delegates from across the school, adult, vocational, further and higher education sectors had the opportunity to hear about the experiences of colleagues and learners and to find out about future opportunities through the actions of the new EU Lifelong Learning Programme (Comenius, Leonardo, Grundtvig, Erasmus and the Transversal programme). The ECA were pleased to be a contributer at this conference, showcasing the Grundtvig "Teddy Bear" Intergenerational project

The primary aims of the conference were to:

• explore ways in which international activity can raise achievement, increase motivation of staff and students and offer quality professional development
• encourage sharing of good practice and to celebrate the achievements of learners and education professionals who have previously been involved in EU programmes.
• raise awareness of the opportunities for learners of all ages and teachers in the UK through the European Lifelong Learning Programme
• showcase examples of best practice in European activity of relevance to the UK constituency
• provide a networking and professional development opportunity for all delegates.

The Exhibition

The exhibition showcase formed the backdrop to the conference. The exhibition supported the themes of the conference, demonstrating how education professionals and learners have benefited from EU funded programmes as well as providing motivation for delegates to consider further international activity within Europe. The ECA were pleased to be an exhibitor at this conference, showcasing the Grundtvig "Teddy Bear" Intergenerational project.

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Showcase Seminar and AGM

The Finnish Institute kindly agreed to host the 2006 AGM. We welcomed Kaarina Karjula, our "Teddybear" project partner from the Sastamala Community College, Finland and learnt something of Finnish Adult Education and culture thus underlining our continuing commitment to partnership working and international involvement.

Professor Brian Groombridge who is our President Emeritus, spoke about his personal and professional "Finnish Connection"

The seminar showcased the work of the Association and its Members covering the main areas of present involvement and activity

  • Intergenerational work
  • Sustainability
  • Citizenship
  • Arts in Adult Education

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South and East Region Summer Conference

In March 2003 when the ECA held its national conference on ‘Issues in the Training of Adult Education Tutors’ it was a time of change for the national staff development agencies. The development of the sectors skills councils was just around the corner and the expert seminar that resulted brought together many of the key players for a frank exchange about the issues. The shape of the new body which emerged as LLUK was at that time mere conjecture; it was still unclear which other elements, such as library and information services would enter the mix while museums were to remain outside.
The ECA’s Role
The significance of the ECA’s role at that time was its ability to give prominence to informal structured learning for adults and the occupational requirements of staff working in this sector.
We were told at the time that we added a significant dimension to the planning process by illustrating that this field of work lay directly between formal accredited FE provision on the one hand and very informal support for community learning on the other. With the prospect of a new accredited structure for tutors, irrespective of whether learners’ work is formally accredited - where are we heading?
LLUK has already established a strong framework for consultation on these matters but probably it will have been staff development specialists who will have most been involved.
What will Delegates gain from the Conference?
This event, to be held in one of the world’s foremost art and design museums, therefore looks at where we are now. It deliberately takes a focus on the practice of supporting learning in contexts, which are the natural territory of the ECA, but as before, looks wider.
June 10th provides a very particular opportunity for ‘the field’ to hear a range of perspectives and share views in an open and reflective atmosphere.
The future may be uncertain but the opportunity to contribute to shaping forward agendas is something that ACL specialists should not ignore. Part of our ‘Artistry & Craft’ must be to lead, not merely be driven in these changing times. In this latter respect please note that as a membership organisation the ECA seeks to be as widely representative as possible.
The associated Regional Annual Meeting provides an opportunity for active participation in the ongoing core work of the Association, including its regional and national frameworks.
Please contact the Regional Secretary for details of nomination to the regional and national committees – join us where the action is!

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Welcoming New Learners

“A civilised society should ensure that a broad range of learning opportunities is available to all”
LSC Consultation Paper ‘Investing in Skills: Taking Forward the Skills Strategy’

This conference set the scene for the Association’s work during 2006-07 in responding to the Government’s priorities. These have been laid out for us (by NIACE as agent for the DfES) in our funding framework as:

  • Social Inclusion – making sure that education and training are made available to the most disadvantaged
  • Skills for life (literacy, language and numeracy)
  • Learning provision designed to help people move from benefit to work
  • Capacity building that is designed to improve provision for disadvantaged groups

Social inclusion and widening participation have been major themes within adult education for a long time. In this conference we heared examples of current and future planning, successes achieved and the problems involved.

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Adult Learning for a Citizens' Europe

Despite the UK currently holding the EU Presidency it seems clear that the majority of our country’s citizens remain uncertain what ‘Europe’ is or does. There is not even an informed Euroscepticism. How can the education of adults help a coherent debate, when there are all-pervading and largely negative opinions from the media and most informed discussion takes place in highly technical language, legal jargon and abstractions?

This seminar aimed to bring together those UK organisations that share a concern about public engagement with the European agenda. The Educational Centres Association is the UK partner in TEACh, an innovative staff development project in conjunction with partners in Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary and Italy sponsored under the Grundtvig programme. Such innovative transnational activity recently won praise from the House of Lords Committee on Europe.

The intention in joining this project was to look towards Europe and identify policy strands and practical measures that increase learning for adults - about and towards active citizenship. In this we see it as auspicious that the Government should have just launched its inter-departmental civic renewal programme ‘Together We Can’. This fits well with the concept and context of the European Year of Citizenship through Education. The first cohort is largely made up of UK teachers, although the course team is widely drawn from partner institutions across Europe.

The seminar received a report back from the first TEACh pilot course that took place in September 2005, led by the multi-national team in Stoke-on-Trent. It also took account of the work of other UK agencies in developing the citizenship curriculum for both adults and young people.

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Valuing Adult Learning in Arts and Crafts


  • To enjoy a morning of information, discussion and networking with other members, ending with a plenary session;
  • to clarify consensus views that the ECA can carry forward on members’ behalf;
  • to hear about the past year and help to determine future goals for the South & East Region at the annual meeting
  • to visit a prestigious exhibition of Arts & Crafts Movement artefacts from all over the world

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Rural Adult Learning

Challenge It is commonplace to say that sparse populations present challenges in terms of delivering public services. This is especially true where adult learning in rural areas is concerned. Even where learners’ needs and interests can be clearly identified structural problems are immediately encountered; lack of suitable and adequately equipped premises, public transport and specialist tutors to name but three.
These problems are compounded by lack of ‘critical mass’, the simple arithmetic of enrolments which worsens as learning needs become more specific, particularly at “higher” levels and in specialist fields.
Change Against this background there are radical and enduring changes in the rural economy. Many of these have already resulted in existing skills and knowledge being de-valued, while at the same time new demands are arising from a range of economic and social factors.
Supply & Demand “Making Connections” looked at both the supply and demand sides of this equation, placing specific emphasis on the requirements and expectations of learners, especially empowering individuals and communities to identify and meet their own learning agendas.
Responsive Staff Key to any strategy that seeks to address such diverse learners’ needs will be front line staff; be they paid or volunteers. The recruitment, training and support of such individuals must therefore be of particular concern. Beyond providing ‘Information, Advice & Guidance’ – sometimes thought of as merely fitting learners into pre-existing courses, workers needs to be more proactive to ensure adequate appropriate provision. The identification of unmet needs goes along with raising expectations; often difficult when hopes have been previously raised and then not fulfilled.
Effective Partnerships This more “joined-up” approach therefore calls not only for more flexibility by providers but more effective partnerships between them, so that a best-fit can be achieved between learners and the opportunities provided for them.
As E M Forster said, “Only Connect!”
This conference looked at the diverse agencies now active in supporting rural adult learning and the ways in which effective cross-sectoral and inter-agency collaboration can make a real difference.

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Aiming Further, Higher, and Wider

Adult learning takes many forms: it may lead to a qualification, career progression, new roles in the community and/or different forms of personal satisfaction and fulfilment.

Whatever purpose individuals have in mind for learning, it may take them further, higher or wider into the world of lifelong learning.

In this conference, adult learners shared their experiences of learning, wherever it has taken them and made reference to the way in which advice and guidance has helped and informed their decision-making. These personal reflections were set in the context of learning theory and practice by a lecturer/researcher who specialises in adult learning.

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Arts, Culture, and Lifelong Learning Conference

This ECA conference, sponsored by the DfES, explored prospects for forging effective partnerships (especially between Adult Community Learning and cultural organisations).

It brought together people with roles in policy formation, management and planning of programmes, staffing, exhibition design, interpretation and learning resources in the education of adults, to share perspectives.

Amongst those were museum education officers, college governors, principals of FE and ACL establishments NGO and LEA officers, officials of heritage orgnisations, chairs and members of student / staff associations and leading members of community and voluntary organisations.

The event coincided with Manchester's hosting of the British Museum's travelling exhibition "Buried Treasure". A private view of the exhibition was arranged for conference delegates on the Wednesday evening. Hotel accommodation was arranged in association with Marketing Manchester.

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