Guest Post: Essex Havard from NIACE introduces Adult Learners’ Week 12-18 May 2012

Today’s guest post comes from Essex Havard from the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).  Adult Learners’ Week runs from 12-18 May 2012 – this means that an Adult Learners’ Week event on the evening of Friday 18th May could also double as your Museums at Night event!


Why get involved with Adult Learners’ Week?

I’m tempted to say “put the kettle on, this may take some time” but I’ll try to be brief…

Adult Learners’ Week is a “celebration of adult learning” of all sorts, by all sorts of providers and in all sorts of venues: Local authority adult education departments, Higher Education and Further Education institutions, voluntary and charity sector providers (e.g. U3A), museums, libraries, archives and Uncle Tom Cobley and all…

Museum-specifically, it’s a time for you to trumpet your successes over the previous year (exhibit adults’ work, have a certificate presentation evening etc), highlight projects coming up in the near future and also organise short, bite-sized, have-a-go type learning events for adults and family groups.

The UK population is ageing and lifelong learning ought to be a more important part of all our lives. Actively engaging with learning as an adult leads to many direct and indirect positive benefits:

·         improved self confidence
·         decrease in reliance on health services
·         increase in racial tolerance
·         increase in detection of life-threatening illnesses
·         improved social cohesion
·         improved chances of gaining employment

and many other benefits too numerous to mention here.

Museum education services are usually, but not exclusively, staffed by primary school-experienced professionals. So, if you are less confident in developing an adult “offer” for Adult Learners’ Week (and beyond) why not liaise with a local adult learning provider? In my experience the best adult learning projects in museums have done this (for example, the “In Touch” volunteer programme in Manchester Museum and The Imperial War Museum North).

Why not use Adult Learners’ Week to try something new? Push the boundary. Be innovative!

If you join in with this UK-wide promotion you will be joining with thousands of other events and gaining from the publicity that is currently being organised by NIACE (England and Wales) and SALP (Scotland). For colleagues in Northern Ireland I’d recommend contacting EGSA.

NIACE (England):
NIACE Dysgu Cymru (Wales):

Contact us, let’s develop a dialogue. I’d love to field questions about Adult Learners’ Week. My e-mail address is I’m happy to answer your questions and/or point you in the right direction.

If you are a museum in Wales then you can gain access to some small funding to facilitate your events. This money is only available if you join one of our 22 (one per county) Learning Festival Planning Groups. Again, drop me a line and I’ll tell you who your local contact is.

So wherever you are in the UK, get stuck in and show that museums are for adults too!

Good luck with your plans.

Gentleman with glasses

Essex Havard

Essex Havard works for The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) where he is Campaigns and Fundraising Coordinator for NIACE Dysgu Cymru (NIACE’s Wales arm). He is NIACE (England and Wales) contact for adult learning in the museum sector. Prior to his joining NIACE (in 2004) Essex worked in the museum education sector with periods as Events Officer at National Museum Wales, Museum Education Officer for Bath City Council and Education, and Education and Access Officer for The Council of Museums in Wales.


Thanks very much, Essex! If you’d like to write a guest post or case study for this blog about any aspect of event planning or marketing in arts or heritage venues, please drop me a line at or call me on                01273 623336.

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