2020 Festival of Learning award nominations now open

7 November 2019

Learning and Work Institute has opened nominations for its 2020 Festival of Learning awards. The annual awards, which began in 1992, recognise the outstanding achievements of adult learners, tutors, employers and learning projects, and aim to inspire others to take part in learning.

Nominations for the 2020 Festival of Learning awards open today, Thursday 7 November, and will close on Tuesday 11 February 2020. Award winners are selected from four categories:

  • individuals who have transformed their own lives and the lives of their families, friends, their communities, and the places they work
  • tutors whose valuable contribution to adult learning and the impact they have had on their learners deserves recognition
  • innovative and transformational learning projects or provision that could be replicated or adapted by other learning providers
  • employers that have invested in their workforce to improve productivity, increase staff retention and enhance their business performance

Participation in lifelong learning has a huge range of benefits. Learning can not only help people find a job or progress in work, it can improve health and wellbeing, increase civic engagement and boost confidence.

However, recent data from Learning and Work Institute’s adult participation survey shows that participation in lifelong learning is at its lowest for more than 20 years. The survey also found that the reasons adults don’t engage in learning include a lack of time, feeling too old, a lack of confidence, caring responsibilities and having a disability.

Festival of Learning award winners show that these barriers can be overcome, and no matter what your circumstance, taking part in learning can make a positive difference.

Stephen Evans, chief executive at Learning and Work Institute, said,

Adult learning makes a real difference to people, to our economy and to our society. It is important that we recognise that contribution. That’s what the Festival of Learning is all about; showcasing the benefits of learning through the inspirational stories of adult learners.

“If you have been inspired over the last year by an adult learner, tutor, learning project or an employer’s workplace learning provision then we want you to share their story with us by nominating them for a Festival of Learning award. 

“While lifelong learning has never been more important, participation has been falling. That’s why we need to celebrate the life-changing impact of adult learning and encourage more adults to give learning a try.”

David Hughes, chief executive of Association of Colleges, said:

“The Festival of Learning awards are not only a brilliant way to celebrate adult learners who have made great achievements but also an inspiration to others to think about and explore the opportunities learning can provide. Colleges and learning providers will want to nominate teachers and learners who make a special contribution to education because the personal stories really show the transformative impact of learning at all stages in life.”

Paul Eeles, chief executive of the Skills and Education Group, said:

“Here at the Skills and Education Group, it is our pleasure to be supporting the Festival of Learning again this year. As an organisation committed to the advancement of skills and education to improve the lives of individuals, we are well aware of how lifelong learning transforms the lives of adults and benefits wider society. It is important that we celebrate the outstanding achievements of adult learners to raise awareness of these benefits, and the Festival of Learning does just that. We are excited to hear the stories and achievements of the nominees this year.”

For more information and to submit your award nomination, visit the Festival of Learning website.


For further information and interviews, contact Rhian Short, marketing and communications manager, at Rhian.short@learningandwork.org.uk or 0116 204 4217 / 07880 724062

About Festival of Learning

Festival of Learning celebrates learning through the remarkable stories of people, projects, provision and organisations that have used learning to transform make a difference to individuals, families and communities. The achievements of Festival of Learning award winners are recognised and inspire others to discover the benefits of learning.

Festival of Learning is supported by the Department for Education and works with a range of partners, including NOCN, Education and Training Foundation, Skills and Education Group, City Lit and the WEA.

About Learning and Work Institute

We are an independent policy and research organisation dedicated to lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion. We research what works, influence policy, develop new ways of thinking, and help implement new approaches. We have run Festival of Learning, previously known as Adult Learners’ Week, for 28 years.

Our participation in adult learning survey shows that fewer adults are taking part in learning than 20 years ago. Visit our website for full data and comment.

ab