Monthly Archives: July 2014

Nine ways to change the future

The UK and the rest of Europe are in a period of significant demographic change.

People will work until later in their lives, they may have several careers and have to support children and elderly relatives for longer. To respond, we need a whole of life approach to public policy, well beyond the traditional split between schools, work, pensions and health.

The WEA believes that education is central to this approach.

Successful countries see education as an infrastructural investment which has transformational effects on productivity, social mobility, health outcomes and community cohesion.

Without access to education and lifelong learning we will continue to have a divided society in which human potential is wasted.

Education, at whatever age, changes people’s lives and allows them to take control over their destinies. It is the key to reducing inequality and promoting social mobility and inclusion.

We have proposed a manifesto towards changing the future for the better – socially, economically and culturally. We invite others to join us to support and develop these arguments over the coming months.

The manifesto sets out nine measures to transform adult education in the UK:

1. Ensure there is always an opportunity for adults to return to learning

2. Promote equality, opportunity and productivity at work

3. Develop educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged

4. Help people stay active throughout life through health education

5. Reduce health inequalities to give people more control over their own wellbeing

6. Promote tolerance and inclusion through access to English

7. Value lifelong learning so adults of any age can study

8. Help parents become educational role models

9. Value volunteering through a single credible set of measurements

Click here to read the manifesto in full.

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The legacy of the Tour de France

As you would expect from an ethically conscious charity like the WEA, many of our staff are keen cyclists, and this year’s Tour de France had the added bonus of finishing its second stage just outside our offices in Sheffield.

Ahead of the event, Yorkshire students combined poetry and song in this unique tribute to the Tour.

In London, many of our staff headed down to cheer the riders and there is no doubt that Le Grand Depart has been a fantastic success for England.

However, the Tour has also reignited the long running debate about the balance between cars and bikes. On Saturday, The Guardian published an Anonymous blog which said the worst thing about cycling was other cyclists and argued that a minority of cyclists give the majority a bad name. In response Peter Walker said that was nonsense and that faults with cyclist behaviour was exaggerated.

As a PR and cyclist, I have a great deal of sympathy with Anonymous. When you have a PR problem, like the one described by Sam Haddad in The Guardian, then the best way to address it is by stop doing bad things. In my career I have often been asked by companies why newspapers focus on all the negative stories and forget the good things they do – to which the answer is: stop doing the negative things and people will pay attention to the good.

Many cyclists flout the rules of the road, much to the annoyance of drivers and those cyclists like me that try to keep to them. If they stopped doing bad stuff we would all benefit.

At the same time, Peter Walker also makes the valid point that cyclists are treated as a group in a way unthinkable for drivers. Bad driving does not make all drivers bad – so why is it that cyclists are often treated like one group?

Following the GB team’s success at the Olympics and the Tour visiting Yorkshire, the enthusiasm for cycling is at a high. The WEA is committed to improving health, wellbeing and supporting the environment.

How can we encourage cycling in the UK?

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