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Our second webinar of the year continued our focus on the future for adult/lifelong learning in Northern Ireland, picking up on key reports that have been recently released. In particular we were delighted to have a presentation on the Skills Strategy consultation paper from Roger Arneill (Skills Strategy Development Lead at DfE), since that consultation just opened on 27 May. Other inputs came from Prof John Holford (Uni of Nottingham) on the Centenary Commission Report on Adult Education, Brian Doran (CEO Southern Regional College) on NI College of the Future Report and Seamus McAleavey (CEO, NICVA) on its Manifesto for Change.

FALNI encourages all stakeholders to respond to the Skills Strategy consultation (closing date 19th Aug) and would like to hear your views to inform our own response.


Our 2021 series of webinars began with this event on 19th March which is the start of an on-going exploration into Creating a Culture of Lifelong Learning in Northern Ireland. We were delighted to have Caoimhe Archibald MLA (Chair of the Committee for the Economy) open the webinar and hope this marks greater collaboration between the Forum and this key committee. We then had two presentations on the theme – first Prof Ellen Boeren from the University of Glasgow and then a return speaker, Fiona Aldridge from Learning and Work Institute. In the breakouts participants identified building blocks for creating a lifelong learning culture and these will be taken up now by a small number of working groups which will develop the ideas and start to initiate actions: these working groups will report back at a conference in the autumn.


With Covid restrictions continuing the launch of the Learn Well, Live Well report (see Reports/Resources) which the Forum developed with our partner, Belfast Learning City, as part of the 2020 UK EAAL programme, had to be another online event. We were delighted to have the endorsement of the two Junior Ministers from the Stormont Executive as well as hearing once again from our friend Raul Valdes-Cotera from UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning,


With Covid restrictions Forum events went online in 2020. Under the EAAL contract we ran four webinars and worked with our partner, Belfast Learning City, to commission and edit a report on adult learning and health and wellbeing.


In September our webinar focused on participation in adult learning and our key speaker was Fiona Aldridge from the Learning & Work Institute. L&W carry out an annual survey of participation across all parts of the UK (see our Reports/Resources page for the 2019 and 2020 reports). 42 people attended the event from Gov depts, Universities, FE Colleges, and the community and voluntary sector.


In October our webinar introduced the theme of our forthcoming report – adult learning and health and wellbeing. 44 participants heard presentations on two of the report’s themes: Helen McNamee from Community Development and Health Network spoke on health literacy, and Denis Barrett from Cork Learning City spoke on that city’s development as part of UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities.


Our third webinar focused on participation in adult basic skills, After a keynote from Alex Stevenson of the Learning and Work Institute (Flexibility and Access in Basic Skills: the workplace as a context for boosting participation), there was a local presentation from Kevin Lavery of Belfast Metropolitan College on the college’s engagement with local employers around essential skills.

The webinar also had an update from Fiona Aldridge on the 2020 Adult Participation in Learning Survey.


The final webinar returned to the theme of adult learning and health and wellbeing to give an overview of the report which was nearing completion. The keynote address came from Raul Valdes-Cotera from UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, who wrote the report’s Introduction. The report will have 20 local case studies and three of these were shared in the webinar: GRAHAM, esc films and Limerick Learning City.


The report on adult learning and health and wellbeing – Learn Well, Live Well – will be released in January 2021. The report consists of six commissioned articles and 20 case studies, with an Introduction by Raul Valdes-Cotera from UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning.