The three partners in Learners First are:
I joined the National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling in 1978, when I left University. I became involved in research into guidance and support in the Youth Training Scheme – and started to run courses on it for supervisors. Later, I worked with Tony Watts to research and write Adult Education and the Curriculum, which became the curriculum framework for the REPLAN programme.
Since forming Learners First with Anna and John in the mid-eighties, I have taken the lead on most of our research and evaluation projects, putting my background as an occupational psychologist to practical use for Government agencies, education and training providers and public companies. I’ve also written my share of the learning resources we have developed for clients such as the Open College, Health Pickup and the Land Based Colleges National Consortium.
I’ve also managed some of our projects and was the Programme Coordinator for Learning for Work 2004-08.
Anna and I have lived in Bristol since 1987. We got married in 2009, when I was recovering from a brain haemorrhage, which has left me a Blue Badge holder. I joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 2000 – and now regularly offer my Thoughts for the Day on BBC Radio Bristol.
I am a writer, researcher and musician. I graduated in Sociology from Leeds University in 1974 and began work as a research assistant in the audio visual media research unit of the Open University. In 1977 I joined the National Extension College in Cambridge where I worked for twelve years, first as an editor and later as Assistant Director of Education.
I worked closely with Anna at the NEC and was delighted to join Learners First in 1989. Since then I have written a wide range of learning materials including, most recently, the Functional Skills in Context series (with Anna); I have worked on a number of Learners First research projects and co-authored the report Becoming Competent; and I helped to manage the Land Based Colleges National Consortium and the Key Skills Support Programme.
I am also a singer songwriter and have released five albums – more details are on my web site. Learners First has published a collection of my song lyrics – details are on the publications page. And I conduct ecological surveys for organisations including the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology.
My first job was as a teacher of children with learning difficulties and I soon became involved in the start of the adult literacy campaign through the Workers Educational Association. I joined the National Extension College by working at the Basic Skills Unit, developing resources for Youth Opportunities Programme. I went on to manage the staff development for the Youth Training Scheme in Cambridge and Bedfordshire and then worked with John as an Open Learning editor.
Through Learners First, I have played a leading role in developing a wide range of learning resources and, having gained an MEd from Bristol University in 1999, I’ve also been involved in several of our research and evaluation projects.
I believe passionately that most people do not have the opportunity to achieve their full learning potential, that much formal education does not help them to do so and often serves to narrow their horizons.
I love the teaching and traning work I’m doing now. One day a week I work as a cook/trainer helping a team of adults with learning difficulties to prepare three course meals for a group of isolated elderly people. Every summer I also teach English to foreign students who come and live in our home in Bristol through Living Learning English.