Let’s Learn – the vision

“Let’s Learn” – Community Education Bay of Plenty, is a small group of women who are passionate about supporting Community Adult Education in the Bay of Plenty.

The “Let’s Learn” group has been an evolvement over time from the original ACE Network, transitioning to the Western Bay of Plenty Community Education group after night classes ended in 2009; this group then re-organised itself into Community Education Bay of Plenty in 2015. The new “Let’s Learn” moniker was adopted in 2016 to better describe its vision, which is “People have endless opportunities to learn, grow and connect in the Bay of Plenty” and this is underpinned by their mission “To provide a hub that supports our local learning community.”

They have created the Let’s Learn website to list as many of the local community education courses, workshops and adult education events as it can. They are now working on plans to form a trust so that they can grow the sustainable, affordable provision of community education throughout the Bay.

Let’s Learn (https://letslearn.co.nz/) has now been uploaded onto ACE Place.
Zoe Wilkinson who is the Chair of the committee says that while the old network suited the pre-2009 ACE Network setup, the new Let’s Learn group is more Community Education based and has more community courses listed – the kind of things that used to be offered by the local high schools, but which are now provided by independent tutors, community groups and organisations.
The other members of the committee are Judith Honeyfield from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology (previously the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic), Amanda Earl from the KatiKati Community Resource Centre and local tutors Shelley Dean and Charlotte van Doorn.

Adult Learners’ Week He Tangata Mātauranga provides another opportunity to showcase what’s on offer. In 2015 and again this year the committee organised a Free Course Taster Evening. This was held around Adult Learners Week where 26 tutors were involved in offering half hour sessions over a two and a half hour evening event. Last year they had fifty people attend, and this year 150 turned up. Just 80 had registered but, says Zoe, “they just kept coming through the door. There was a real buzz, it was amazing!. We had a free café running so people could sit and talk while they waited for their course. We had all sorts of tutors from drumming, to yoga, art, calligraphy, languages, tap dancing. It was really quite extraordinary.”

The group also ran the successful “Adult Learners Week Awards Ceremony” awarding and acknowledging the efforts of Adult Learners in the Bay of Plenty. Let’s Learn created the “Life Long Learner Award” in 2015 to acknowledge adult learners in the community, who have evolved from adult students to Adult Educators.

The committee provides a regular newsletter to tutors and providers from their database, telling them how to up load onto the website, and giving them information about up-coming events, and advertising.

They plan to offer Tutor training and more networking and public taster events. Some of the committee members are qualified adult educators and are able to upskill new-comers to the group. And while not every person offering community education is on the website yet, momentum is building. Their database has 200 providers and tutors, and it’s growing.

As all of the community courses are user-pays, the committee is keen to be able to subsidise some of the courses. That means applying for funding and forming a Trust. Once funding is secured they plan to employ a Let’s Learn Co-ordinator to streamline the management of courses, tutors, the website and social media. Watch this space.