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Winners trip to parliament!


Each year the Festival of Learning highlights the benefits of learning and celebrates the achievements of adults who through learning have transformed their lives. In October 2019 this year's winners attended a parliamentary reception at Westminster, bringing together winners, parliamentarians and key figures from the education and skills sectors. 

Winners from Adult Education Wolverhampton including Seong Chua, who was awarded the English Language Learning Award and Marie Smith who received the Learning for Health Award were invited to the London event.

Marie Smith 

Going to the parliamentary event shows parliamentarians the importance of funding for adult education. It shows how learning transforms lives not only that of the individual studying but the fantastic impact it has on their family and friends too! I really owe my life to education. It gave me my life back.

by Marie Smith

In October 2019 I was invited to attend the houses of parliament as part of the Festival of Learning Awards and in recognition of my learning journey. The event showed parliamentarians the importance of funding for adult education, how it transforms lives and the impact it has on the individual, family members and others too.

Whilst there, I met Robert Half an MP for Harlow who congratulated me on my achievement and for receiving my award.

My whole experience from beginning to end has been a journey...a journey that has totally transformed my life. The anxieties I experienced taking those first steps to attend the Like Minds wellbeing group seems so distant but it actually wasn't that long ago. I do wish that I had taken those first steps earlier. My journey has taken me from having no self-worth and wanting to end my life on a daily basis to feeling that I totally belong. Meeting new friends and seeing the world in a totally different way and I don't believe that anything but education could have done that for me. Today I wake up not wanting to miss a minute in a day, giving thanks I'm still here to appreciate my life and looking forward to everything that life has in the present and the future.

Now I see a futureā€¦
Before it felt I was in a dark tunnel there was no light at the end there was no escape from this tunnel. Now I'm out of that tunnel in a bright new world with my eyes wide open. I do still have my down mornings especially when I have had a nightmare that's one thing I can't control but having a future and a reason to live makes getting over nightmares so much easier.

Adult Education Wolverhampton has helped me achieve so much in so little time. The staff are outstanding, nothing was ever too much and there was always someone to talk to when I needed support and reassurance. I am now studying at the University of Wolverhampton and enjoying my course. There is no stopping me. From Adult Education to University the support has been amazing. I really owe my life to education. It gave me my life back.
I am currently in my second year at University and I most certainly shall do my Masters. I feel a hunger for knowledge, it's really hard to explain but the more knowledge you obtain, the more you need, the hunger never seems to go.

Thank you Adult Education Wolverhampton. You shall never know what you have done for me. The true extent of my life how it was to now. My eyes fill up with tears ...tears of gratitude. How do you begin to thank someone who has saved your life? I know 100% hand on my heart I would now be dead if it wasn't for Adult Education Wolverhampton. For all your support. I never did anything in my life that was truly for me and you along with all the other staff gave me strength to have that to do something that is solely for me. Thank you with all my heart.

Seong Chua

I feel very proud to be one of the learners who was invited to a private meet and greet session with Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal at the basic skills event in Westminster. It was incredible to be amongst such inspirational people. A fabulous and cool experience that will be cherished."

by Seong Chua

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend two events in London. The first event was the Festival of Learning 2019 Parliamentary Reception which took place at the House of Parliament on Tuesday 22 October and then later in the week I was invited to speak at The Basic Skills, Moser report, event at Westminster Kingsway College on 24th October in London.

The parliamentary reception was an invite only drinks and buffet lunch reception attended by parliamentarians (from both the House of Commons and House of Lords) and many inspirational people who work in the adult learning and skills sector. It was an important event in the Festival of Learning calendar because of the message it gives parliamentarians and policy makers about why adult learning is so important and the many positive impacts and benefits of adult learning on individuals, families, communities and employers.

It was a fantastic event, on a glorious sunny Autumnal day, that celebrated the Festival of Learning 2019 winners. I was blown away by the Houses of Parliament, the beautiful, intricately designed grand building as well as terrace views of the River Thames and the London Eye. The thing about the Houses of Parliaments is that you never know who you are going to bump into. Therefore, I was very excited to meet Gordon Marsden MP (Labour Party MP for Blackpool South and Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Skills), Robert Halfon (Conservative MP for Harlow and Chair of the Education Select Committee), Vicky Seagar (New Directions Award Winner) and Keoghs Law (Employer Award Winner).

The Basic Skills event, also called 'The Moser' report, twenty years on: an adult basic skills policy roundtable, was being attended by the Institute for Learning and Work Patron, HRH Princess Anne. The event was also attended and led by Alex Stevenson who is the Head of English, Maths and ESOL for the Learning and Work Institute. I was invited to take part in a learner panel / informal conversation on stage along with 2 other learners and the chief executive Stephen Evans to talk about my own experiences of learning as an adult. It was amazing to hear the other learners' testimonies about how powerful their learning journeys have been and to have the opportunity to share our experiences. I felt very proud to be one of the learners who was invited to a private met and greet session with Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal.

The event identified what needed to be done to help tackle the challenge of basic skills. It brought together expertise from the sector and discussed the need to develop and enhance support available to adults with low literacy, language and numeracy skills. For this to be implemented through increased teacher professionalism, standardised curricula, new qualifications and a statutory entitlement to fully funded adult basic skills learning.To ensure that twenty years from now, no adult would miss out on opportunities in life and at work due to low levels of basic skills.

It was incredible to be amongst such inspirational people at both events. I believe that this trip to London was the most fabulous, and coolest, experience and has become one of my most cherished moments to date.

Seong was also invited to speak about her experiences of being an English learner at a basic skills event where HRH Princess Ann attended as the guest of honour. Princess Ann is the patron for the Learning and Work Institute and is an ambassador for lifelong learning.

At the event Princess Ann said, "Adult learning plays a vital role in's good for people, it's good for your health, self-esteem and if you want more employability. None of those will be the same for individuals. There will always be different reasons for doing it, but I think that health and self-esteem is probably common to most people who take part in that learning process." Quote from

After the event Seong was invited to personally meet with HRS Princess Ann where she had the opportunity to talk about her story and the amazing impact that learning has had on her life and that of her family.

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