Today sees the launch of a new commission dedicated to examining the provision for, and possibilities of, adult education. Its creation coincides with a significant milestone the history of adult education in the UK, namely the centenary anniversary of the Ministry of Reconstruction’s Final Report on Adult Education in 1919.

The 1919 Centenary Commission will produce a report with future recommendations on the needs and possibilities for adult education into the century ahead. Due to be published in November 2019, its release will mark exactly 100 years to the day of the publication of the 1919 report itself.

There is a national – indeed global – consensus that lifelong learning is increasingly required, for the world of work, alongside machine learning and robotics; for a population living longer; and for an electorate facing new and complex challenges. The Commission will consider the educational provision required in the face of longer lives, changing work, and global challenges.

The 1919 Centenary Commission includes:    

  • Dame Helen Ghosh, Chair - Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Previously Chief Executive, The National Trust; Permanent Secretary at Home Office and Dept for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
  • Sir Alan Tuckett OBE, Vice-chair - Professor, University of Wolverhampton. Previously Chief Executive, National Institute of Adult Continuing Education; President, International Council for Adult Education.
  • Melissa Benn- Author, novelist, journalist, broadcaster. Chair, Comprehensive Future; Council member, New Visions for Education Group.
  • Lord (Karan) Bilimoria - Co-founder & Chairman, Cobra Beer; Chancellor, University of Birmingham.
  • Dr Sharon Clancy- Chair, Raymond Williams Foundation. Previously Head of Community Partnerships, University of Nottingham; Chief Executive, Mansfield Council for Voluntary Service.
  • Melissa Highton- Assistant Principal, Online Learning and Director of Learning, Teaching & Web Services, University of Edinburgh.
  • Uzo Iwobi OBE - Chief Executive Officer, Race Council Cymru. Previously Principal Equality Officer, South Wales Police; member of the Commission for Racial Equality.
  • Roger McKenzie - Assistant General Secretary, Unison. Previously Vice Chair, West Midlands Assembly.
  • Sir Ken Olisa OBE - Chairman, Shaw Trust; Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London; founder & Chairman, Restoration Partners; Deputy Master, Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. 
  • Dr Sue Pember OBE -  Director, Holex. Previously lead Director for FE, Dept for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Dept for Education & Skills (DfES); Principal, Canterbury College of F&HE.
  • Ruth Spellman OBE - General Secretary and Chief Executive, The WEA. Previously Chief Executive of Chartered Management Institute, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and Investors in People UK.
  • Paul Roberts- Chief Executive Officer, Aspire, Oxford.
  • Dr Cilla Ross - Vice Principal, Co-operative College.
  • Sir Peter Scott - Emeritus Professor of Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education. Previously Vice Chancellor, Kingston University, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor of Education, University of Leeds; Editor, The Times Higher Education Supplement. 

As key partners in the project, alongside the WEARaymond Williams FoundationUniversity of NottinghamKellogg College and the University of Oxford we are all committed to exploring how adult education can we revitalised for the 21st century.

Simon Parkinson, our CEO and principal said:

“We are delighted to be involved in this vital project which comes at a time when the need for adult education has never been greater. With a number of challenges on the horizon, including the ever changing nature of the world of work, we’re confident that co-operatives can lend a powerful voice and expertise to what is undoubtedly a matter of national importance.”

Dame Helen Ghosh, Master of Balliol College, Oxford who will chair the Centenary Commission commented:

“I was very honoured to be invited to Chair this Centenary Commission, stepping into the shoes of a former Master of Balliol, A.L. Smith, who was Chair of the committee that produced the 1919 Report. Balliol and its Masters have a long and proud record in supporting adult education, including the foundation of the Workers Educational Association in 1903 and hosting Summer Schools from the 1870s which became the annual Oxford University Summer Schools for Adults which are still going strong today. “There are eerie parallels between the problems of 1919 and those of 2019, making a powerful case for a new Commission to look at the challenges.  My own work as a civil servant on a variety of local regeneration programmes convinced me that learning at every stage of life is key to economic security, happiness and health and to creating a society in which everyone can flourish.”

Click the button below to read more about the project and access resources to hold your own debate on adult education.

Adult Education