Our Regional Forums – Sharing Viewpoints and Shaping Learning23-November-2020
Picture: Our recent forums incorporated multiple-languages and links to live classes – thanks to all who took part. . . and the internet!
We always look forward to hearing the views and feedback of our learners and tutors, and we offer a variety of channels in which everyone can ‘have a say!’ – one of which is at our Regional Forum events.
These gatherings are part of what makes us unique in the adult learning sector where our learner voice takes centre-stage enabling ideas and viewpoints to be recognised where these are then acted upon as appropriate on a local, regional or national basis across Wales. Our forums cater for learners across all Welsh regions - South East, South West, South Central, Mid, and North.
As with learning itself, in the wake of Covid-19 our forum events have taken on a quite different flavour of late where these have been conducted over the internet.
Our Chief Executive, Kathryn Robson, attended each of the six most recent events and commented, “We have taken a step into the unknown with our latest forums. Our 100 year plus heritage has seen the forums regularly feature as part of our face-to-face approach; but with continued challenges presented by the virus, we have taken action to ensure the events continued in a way which has not only seen our constitution being upheld but has presented positive prospects for the way we do these in the future.”
All of our learners from across our Wales regions received an email invitation to attend the forum events, and those who took up the offer reserved their virtual seat using an online booking form.
The agenda for each meeting offered opportunity for learners to share their learning experiences during the period of national lockdown and to date, feedback from the regional Council representative regarding recent council meetings and developments, as well as an opportunity for a regional round-up of highlights from the Regional Manager.
The learner discussion were varied and gave direct insight into learning in lockdown as well as informing on future course needs - interest was expressed for example in First Aid, IT and Online Safety courses.
The forums also presented an opportunity for learners to elaborate on their experiences of online delivery, where their feedback described this as, ‘Online is flexible’, and ‘I feel more comfortable learning at home’. In contrast other learners said they preferred face-to-face learning: ‘I like to have a pencil in my hand’, and regarding the online format, ‘the tutor spends a lot of time supporting us with IT [not just the subject]’.
Health and well-being examples were also noted during the forum events, where some learners had completed a ‘lockdown project’, which one described as ‘a lifeline’, where the importance of continued learning was described as ‘critical’ and ‘vital’.
The forum events were a great success – demonstrating our learners’ vitality and thirst for learning regardless and perhaps because of our current circumstances.
We are working with Branch officers and members to improve wider participation in Regional Forums, ensuring that key points are included in future agendas to reflect the work of the voluntary movement across all regions. We are also exploring our regional curriculum offer to support and satisfy our learner requests.
All of our Regional Forum events are open and available to all of our learners. If you would like to have your say at the next round of forums or to find out more, talk to us today.