Our history

Festival of Learning celebrates the very best in adult education and lifelong learning throughout England.

The campaign started as Adult Learners’ Week in 1992.

It encouraged people to join in and to help decision-makers understand better how adult education could influence a whole range of social policies. The idea was successful and spread to other countries.

Stories of people engaging with learning were filmed on BBC, ITV and Channel4. These anecdotes exposed the power of lifelong learning – that learning changes lives and helps people reach their full potential.

Over the years, the campaign has helped to celebrate the best in adult learning and has made a wider case for more adult education opportunities and for more people to take part.

In 2013, the campaign grew to incorporate a Festival of Learning with the purpose of engaging learners, providers and policy makers across the year as a whole.

In 2017, we marked our 25th year with HRH The Princess Royal, patron of Learning and Work Institute, and Festival of Learning continues to celebrate achievements and showcase award winners.

“The importance of learning means that today is the start of the next 25 years, continuing to make the case for adult education and continuing to make the case to get more people into learning.” – Stephen Evans, Learning and Work Institute

In 2020, a new Lifelong Learning Week was introduced. Taking place each year in early November, it brings together stakeholders from across the adult learning and skills and employment sectors at a range of events and activity.

Festival of Learning continues to inspire people into lifelong learning and showcase the positive and transformational impact it can have on lives.