You’ve got be in to get out!
Our aim is to take our learners on an unforgettable learning journey that can be summed up as inclusive outreach.
Why we want to get involved
We want to widen our learners’ horizons, both culturally and personally. We want to open up access to the urban and the rural in an innovative and safe way. We want to take people on an unforgettable learning journey, where the travelling is as exciting as the destination. We want to put learning on the map!
WEA has a long tradition of working with hard-to-reach, disadvantaged learners. Our inclusive, flexible approach means we take the learning to the learners. Just The Ticket will flip this on its head. Instead, we will be taking the learners away from their usual classroom environments and out into the exciting world of museums, art galleries, libraries within the urban metropolis or country estate.
In partnership with GMPTE and Mersey Travel, each learner in the project will receive free day bus passes, thereby enabling them to hop on and off public transport with ease. However, we realise that getting out and about may be a big step for some learners, especially those who are marginalised or who lack the confidence to travel on public transport. We will, therefore offer Travel Plan training via GMPTE and Mersey Travel to help learners gain in confidence when using buses and trams.
So how will it work?
Bespoke learning adventures will be designed around an operational theme of travel and routes. Much as London has the Underground system with stops on lines (e.g. the Circle Line) we have designed various lines in both Greater Manchester and Merseyside. These lines radiate out from either a Manchester or a Liverpool hub, have a distinct theme and incorporate four designated stops plus one library stop.
For example, the stops on The Textile Line will enable learners to visit:
- The National Trust’s Quarry Bank Mill to look at textile production from a historical perspective
- Urbis to study surface pattern design
- The Gallery of Costume in Platt Hall
- and Stockport Hat Works.
An additional stop at a library, such as the John Ryland’s University Library to access the Greater Manchester Textile Mills Survey Archive, will encourage independent research and study skills.
On course for a fabulous ride
Each travel line will have a course designed around the core theme e.g. History, Music, Art, Film, Creative Writing, Textiles. The courses will be for 30 hours at three hours per session. The museum, gallery and library visits will take place during the course and may involve some full days. The course tutors will deliver the course content and also accompany the learners on their learning journeys to the sites.
Once at the designated venues, the partner organisations will provide learning opportunities for the group. For example, on The Textile Line, the participants will visit Urbis where they will learn about surface pattern design and produce printed textiles over a six-week period. The courses can be lengthened or shortened, as necessary. We envisage that each course will have between 10 and 14 learners.
Anyone and everyone is welcome to get on board. As mentioned earlier, we have an enviable reputation in reaching, persuading, and enthusing hard to reach, non-traditional learners. The courses will be targeted at the BME communities, men, elderly people living in isolation, young people between 18 and 25 and those recovering from substance abuse. We have therefore designed lines that we think may be of interest to these groups: The Textile Line, The Engineering Line, The History Line, The Football Line, The Music Line and The Cool Manchester Line.
The learners’ journeys
Participants will join a learning adventure and travel with their travel companions on a designated route or line. Along the way, they will experience both traditional classroom activities in preparation for the stops ahead, in addition to the more informal visits to the museums, galleries and urban and rural points of interest.
We want to ensure everyone is on the right route. Therefore, each learner will have their starting points identified and will keep a record of their journey in a photo album, travel diary, and possibly an online blog, such as Twitter. They will also have a Passport which will be stamped by the tutor whenever a stop is visited and explored.
In addition to these personal outcomes, each group will produce items relating to the theme of their travel line. For example, in Merseyside, learners on The Picture Line would produce a themed set of twelve photographs as a Power Point Presentation or make a short film or podcast about their experiences of visiting Hardman’s Photographic Studio, Tate Liverpool, Picturehouse at FACT and Antony Gormley’s Another Place in Crosby.
Along their journeys learners will encounter far more hands on experiences than can be offered in the more traditional classroom environment.
Our tutors are well-qualified, enthusiastic educational professionals, some of whom are involved in the CaMeL (Capital Motivating E-Learning) project. This involves using a comprehensive kit of ILT equipment to enhance teaching and learning. Delivering Just The Ticket courses will give our tutors and their groups the opportunity to use digital cameras, voice recorders and mini laptops to good effect, to capture learning along the way.
We also intend to recruit four young media savvy students who will accompany the groups on their learning journeys taking photographs, videos and voice recordings which they will subsequently upload onto the WEANW website. These ‘Media Ambassadors’ will gain valuable hands on work experience while passing on their media skills to staff and learners in an informal way.
Why travel with us?
Our cultural partners can look forward to a more diverse range of visitors to their attractions. In particular learners from BME communities and those from deprived areas who would not ordinarily have the possibility to engage in cultural pursuits will be encouraged to attend. In addition, the trained and experienced Cultural Ambassadors will then have the confidence to take small groups to cultural venues for further informal learning initiatives, with or without WEA.
The transport partners will gain new users and improve their access to travel information for a more diverse group of people.
The learners will be able to visit new places as a group in a safe way. Using buses and trams and becoming conversant with travel timetables will give learners the personal freedom to use the public transport system with renewed confidence, both during and after the course. They will be able to share experiences with their peers using common ground and cultural references. Hands on learning opportunities will remove the tendency for certain groups to feel excluded from ‘highbrow’ cultural pursuits. During the courses learners will produce a range of products relevant to their particular line: a poem; a set of photographs; a hand-made book; taped interviews with relatives; an embroidered banner, for example. They can also elect to join WEA branches to help organise informal adult education opportunities in their locality.
WEA’s tutors and staff will have made new beneficial partnerships with cultural organisations in Greater Manchester and Merseyside. This in itself will open up how we design and deliver learning experiences in the future. By taking a more outward looking approach to informal education, we can enrich not only our learners’ lives but also our tutors’ working lives. In essence, we need to get out there to get more people in.
WEA’s branches will gain new members, who will be recruited from a more diverse range of people. This in turn will open up the kind of informal educational opportunities the branches offer with a fresh perspective and wider appeal.
End of the line?
Adults who have completed a course will then be eligible to apply to become ‘Cultural Ambassadors’ and, in effect, act as Travel and Tour Guides on subsequent learning adventures for new learners in the future. In order to facilitate the smooth transition from being a learner to an Ambassador, we will have short training courses to support the volunteers which will address such issues as ‘keeping safe when out and about’, First Aid and library research skills.
We will showcase participants’ work on the WEA’s North West website and ask tutors to nominate a ‘Learning Traveller of the Year’ who will be featured in the local press and radio.
At the end of the Just The Ticket project we will host a celebratory event to include all successful learners, tutors and representatives from partner organisations at one of the venues used as a stop. During this day, we aim to have a travel clinic, where learners from different lines can display, present and share their experiences and personal travel journey with others.
Everyone who has a fully stamped ‘passport’ will be eligible to take a free WEA course of their choice and will also be entered into a prize draw to win fabulous prizes.
It doesn’t stop here!
We are putting our learners on the road to participate in The Learning Revolution. We believe this project will deliver memorable, innovative learning journeys which can truly transform learners’ lives. This project is sustainable and replicable for the future. Once designed, the courses can be delivered repeatedly with new learners and new additional lines. The learners will gain transferable skills that will enable them to become active participants on their fabulous learning journeys. As a passport to their future, this project is Just The Ticket!