The ECA's relationships and networks with adult educators and learners outside of the UK stretch back over half a century and are particularly strong within Europe. 


As an organisation committed to people learning together, sharing understandings and working for a sustainable future, we view the opportunity to exchange best practise, experience and carry out joint work with adult educators throughout the world as an enriching experience, which benefits the learners, educators and organisations involved. It teaches us about different methods, ideas and cultures and can create enduring relationships with those who share the same beliefs about the importance of lifelong learning.


The ECA contributes to projects, conferences, networks and policy at an international level.


European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA)
The ECA has been a member of the EAEA since it began and before that members of its predecessor the European Bureau for Adult Education.  In the build up to the 2009 EAEA General Assembly, the ECA acted as the co-ordinator for the on-line Climate Change Thematic Group to discuss approaches to addressing this topic through adult learning initiatives.


Future Forum

VOV LogoECA representatives have attended all but one of the Future Forum on Adult Education conferences organised by our sister organisation Verband Österreichischer Volkshochschulen (VÖV) / Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres.  The Future Forum aims to create opportunities for exchange, dialogue and co-operation between Adult Educators from different countries in Central Europe.

The ECA was also represented at forum's predecessor, the Salzburg Talks, from 1962 - 2007.


EUCIS-LLL conference 2013

The European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning (EUCIS-LLL) promotes European-wide cooperation amongst civil society organisations. Consisting of more than 30 European networks active in education and training, EUCIS-LLL works to build citizen’s voice on lifelong learning issues and to propose innovative solutions drawing upon the expertise of its member networks. The 2013 conference was held in Vilnius in May where up to half of the participants were from Lithuania.

The ECA is a part of EUCIS-LLL through our membership of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) which promotes adult learning and the widening of access and participation in formal, non-formal and informal adult education. Being part of the EAEA and of EUCIS-LLL is important for the ECA because it provides a voice for us to push forward strong messages to EU institutions on lifelong learning.

ECA Vice-Chairman, Chris Minter, attended the conference, which specifically debated the
implications of the recent European Commission’s Communication on “Rethinking Education: Investing in Skills for better Socio-economic outcomes”. He also took part in a workshop on the use of new social media in European adult learning.


Learning for a Better World

In partnership with Speakers' Corner Trust, the ECA held a mini-debate at the initial conference of the UK contribution to the EU agenda for Adult Learning; ‘Learning for a better world' in Cardiff from 25th - 26th April 2013.
The question posed was ‘should we have an elected European council for learners?' This contributed to a lively debate throughout the conference and whilst the majority of participants were generally in favour of the statements supporting such a Council, many comments reflected the importance of using existing mechanisms at many levels and several of ensuring that positive actions came about as a result.

"the learner voice must be heard at EU level"
"adult education is a European issue"
"anything that involves learners in their learning is a plus"

There were also comments that pointed out the "need to take care with the ‘elected' part. As this "could be rubbished if the claim cannot be substantiated" and that the role of those elected would have to be carefully explained:

"would be important to have learners who will represent others"

This was a really positive response to the debate from the professionals across Europe at the conference.


The REAL Project
The ECA are acting as consultants to the REAL Project, a new project funded by the Leonardo strand of the EU Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme which started in early 2013. The project will build on the success of the ECA's Flexi-Path project and extend, adapt and develop the Flexi-Path toolkit so that it can be used by anyone teaching adults across Europe who wishes to accredit their competences based on relevant experience.

It will use the national qualification frameworks of the partner countries to help develop a toolkit focused on enabling users to validate their own experience against their own national framework. It also hopes to change the power relationships which currently favour the receiving institution and tend to work against both the applicant and the whole ethos of RPEL (Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning).


Changing States - Lifelong Learning in Transition, ECA Annual Conference 2012.
The ECA's annual conference in 2012 helped delegates to hear about the UK's involvement in the development and delivery of adult learning activities within the EU Lifelong Learning framework.  There was a showcase of past and current projects, including those carried out by the ECA, and a chance to find out about the opportunities for adult learning within ‘Erasmus for All' the new funding programme for 2014 - 2020. Speakers included Sue Waddington, President and Gina Ebner, Secretary of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) and Mark Ravenhall the UK Coordinator for the Lifelong Learning Programme. For a delegates review of the conference click here.


European Network for Integenerational Learning (ENIL)

ENIL aims to promote intergenerational learning by bringing together practitioners throughout Europe, facilitating the exchange of ideas, expertise and best practice and creating support structures for influencing policy.

ECA representatives shared their experiences of providing intergenerational learning at the first ENIL thematic conference 'Intergenerational Learning and Volunteering' in Rome in November 2011. 


GRUNDTVIG 10th Anniversary Celebrations
The ECA played a part in the European Commission's Grundvig 10th anniversary celebrations by contributing to the ‘Grundtvig. A decade of European innovation in adult learning' conference.  The conference took place in Brussels in January 2010 and brought together European national, regional and local policy makers, experts in the field of adult learning, representatives of successful Grundtvig projects and individuals/organistions interested in the field. The event consisted of thematic key speeches, reflections around the future of adult learning in Europe and presentations of successful projects. The ECA's Chair & CEO Bernard Godding gave a presentation of the ECA's European intergenerational Teddybear project during the ‘Senior Citizens and Adult Learning' workshop


The Flexi-Path project ran from January 2009 until September 2010 and was funded by the Leonardo strand of the EU Lifelong Learning Programme. The ECA as the UK partner was joined by partners from Estonia, Germany, Italy, Romani, Spain and Switzerland. The project focused on developing a systematic approach to analysing and validating senior adult educators competence profiles at EQF Level 6 & 7. The resulting Flexi-Path Toolkit - A Guide to Creating a Professional Portfolio to Demonstrate High Level Competences of Adult Educators will help users to construct a professional portfolio of competences gained throughout their career. The partners also produced the publication 'Flexible Pathways towards Professionalisation' which details the theoretical background and ideas behind the project and the work undertaken. It also introduces the toolkit and looks forward to future prospects. 

"Very clear, well thought through and a welcome, much needed asset for the sector"

"Every Senior Manager should have on"

"A good opportunity to reflect on own personal competences and to realise one's own potential"

"Can guide professionals in both documenting their career and validating their competences"

"Has the capacity to raising more awareness of the importance of competences gained in non-formal environments"

Feedback of Flexi-Path Toolkit 


LLinE (Lifelong Learning in Europe)
LLinE CoverThe ECA has made various contributions to the Lifelong Learning in Europe (LLinE) journal. The publication is a combination of a scientific journal and a magazine and is directed at the whole of the adult education field: researchers, advocates, decision makers and educators.

ECA President Emeritus Prof. Brian Groombridge gave a presentation at the LLinE conference ‘Lifelong Learning and Wellbeing' in Finland in January 2010. Brian followed this up with an article in the next edition of the journal entitled ‘Out of the twilight zone - the arts and wellbeing in the third age' which took account of the demographic shift by focusing on older people and the arts. The article looked at how arts of all kinds can maintain and develop both mental and physical wellbeing in older people, either as practitioners or as audiences.

In 2009 as part of the ‘Learning Generations' edition ECA Chair & CEO Bernard Godding, ECA Trustee Paul Olver and fellow Teddybear project Partner Fabio Della Pietra authored the ‘Grundtvig supports Teddy Bears - transforming an ageing society' article. This examines the Teddybear project and identifies successful models that give mutual benefits for wellbeing and informal learning.


TEACh (Teaching European Active Citizenship)
The Association joined European partners in 2004 - 2007 for the Grundtvig funded TEACh project. Active citizenship is considered to be one of the most vital factors for European development and there is a strong demand for ways to teach and provide training in this field. The TEACh project developed and delivered a training programme for adult education professionals who teach active citizenship in non-formal adult education. The programme gave further training to participants as well as providing them with an analysis of skills related to active citizenship, invaluable tools to teach these skills and an understanding of best-practice examples of active citizenship throughout Europe.
In 2008 the European Commission selected TEACh as one of the ten projects which stand out for their quality from over two hundred mobility projects it had recently funded.


Teddybear (Twinning the Elderly, Disadvantaged and Disabled with the Young By Enabling Active Reminiscence)
The Grundtvig funded Teddybear Project took place between 2004 - 2006. With an ageing population across Europe it has become increasingly important to explore relationships between older learners and the young. The ECA alongside partners from Finland and Italy sought to explore the potential benefits of linking non-family related young people to older people in their community through structured meetings and working together in an education context. The partnership therefore carried out intergenerational work between older people (50+) including those who were disadvantaged or suffering from mild dementia / Alzheimer and young children between 6 - 12 years old. 

Activities included older participants sharing their life stories and skills and knowledge with the younger participants who then responded to these and who also taught the older participants IT skills.
The EU Commission recognised the project as one of the most successful and significant Grundtvig projects within its remit between 2000 - 2007.


North Sea Commission
The Association played an active role in the North Sea Commission's Innovation and Education Group and led their research into the demographic issues facing education systems in North West Europe. Our conclusion; that with an ageing population and anticipated changes in the labour market, governments and employers need to urgently adjust education and training policies in favour of workers in their middle and later years.