17.04.2013 REPORTS

Ideal of justice motivates a British adult educator

GENERATION NEXT. Adult education professional Alistair (Al) Lockhart-Smith promotes the need for balance in adult education policy.

Alistair Lockhart-Smith, 33, works for the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) as a Project Officer. His duties include managing and coordinating national and international projects to support the development of adult education policy.

"In my work I get inspired by people I work with: they are genuinely passionate about adult education, and seeing the impact of adult education among practitioners, teachers and learners stimulates and inspires me.

The most annoying feature about my work is the amount of paper work involved. However this can be vital in ensuring that we know what works best to improve opportunities for adults to learn in ways that work best for them.

The mission of non-formal adult education is the concept of lifelong learning; laying the foundation for an inclusive learning society is important, especially for disadvantaged communities and hard to reach groups.

I became an adult educator by chance. After gaining my Bachelor's degree in English literature and language at Reading University, I taught English in secondary education, after which I worked for a Government adult education department. My adult education career started there. I went on to work for an adult education charity before I arrived at NIACE.

NIACE champions adult education and is a well-respected organisation in the sector. Working at NIACE is rewarding because, as an independent organisation, we are well positioned between national and local Government, and practitioners and learners to reflect the needs of the sector that in turn informs our work at all levels.

In ten years I hope that the economic crisis will be well and truly over, and I wish that the significant role that equipping adults with the skills they need to get on in life will have been born out. I would like to stay in the adult education field, supporting the sector and overcoming new challenges.

In my life the most important things are family, friends and colleagues. They help shape me as a person and support me through life.

I would like to educate everyone. We all learn new things every day, sometimes without realising it and the great thing about adult education is that it gives people the confidence to change their lives.

Adult education policy should ensure that everyone gets the support that they need. The present system in the UK is heavily front-loaded, favouring the young and already advantaged. Getting the balance right is difficult, but policy makers should make sure that all groups get the right amount of support they need."

Text: Aura Vuorenrinne

Alistair Lockhart-Smith took part to EAEA´s first Younger Staff Training in 2011.