NAEGA plans to develop its branches during 2004. The following reportfrom the NAEGA board (from the latest issues of News and Views) gives the details.

Good News for Branches

Report from NAEGA Board

Encouraging active member participation

At the AGM in July, Jo Ward, Chair of NAEGA, listed branch development as a Board priority for the immediate future. She emphasised that active participation by members at local and regional level is essential to achieving our aims as an association. We are delighted to report that the DfES and the Learning and Skills Council have agreed funding to support NAEGA branch development in England over a two-year period. However, NAEGA is a UK organisation and the new Branch Development Project will apply across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. NAEGA is actively seeking other funds to work outside England, but work will start simultaneously in all parts of the UK. The project is also intended to be sustainable and, when external funding ceases, will continue as part of our ongoing arrangements for supporting branches.

Location of branches

The project will develop active national/regional branches of NAEGA in appropriate areas in the UK. Current levels of branch activity are described in our latest annual report (see Discussion is underway on the development of a branch in Wales, in collaboration with NIACE Dysgu Cymru. A combined Northern Ireland/Scotland branch has flourished in the past, but discussions have commenced on developing separate branches. In England, branches will be developed in each of the nine government office regions, to ensure coherence with regional socio-economic planning arrangements, including LSC and Regional Development Agency boundaries.

We believe that adult guidance practice, as well as learning opportunities provision, must be responsive to local conditions and meet differing consumer demands. Branch activities can play a significant role in encouraging best practice in supporting the development of learning communities.

How will it work?

We propose to allocate a named mentor to each existing and putative branch, to help members develop a branch infrastructure, a programme of activities and liaise with relevant NAEGA officers. Mentors will be paid a consultancy fee. Branches will also be eligible for small grants from the project budget, to fund activities and development work. Branches will be expected to work with mentors to draw up applications for grants, which will be approved by the Project Steering Group. The Steering Group will be a sub group of the Board, on the same basis as the Editorial Team.

We expect that new and less active branches will require more mentor time than established ones. However, we want to encourage established branches to draw on both funds and mentor time to pilot new ideas, such as regional development work, in order to set up examples of good/interesting practice, to stimulate members in other regions.

The Board will appoint a project manager and mentors. If you are interested and have experience of branch development see for details in late December. We will also appoint an external evaluator, who will work with the steering group to agree an overall evaluation strategy, including her/his independent appraisal of the impact of the project.