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Planning Retirement Online

How to become older & bolder in  later life



Sacha Anderson of NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education) explains how the Older & Bolder initiative develops better learning opportunities for older adults aged 50+ 

Life continues to be complex and changing through our 50s, 60s and beyond. Learning plays an important part in this, and the opportunity to participate in learning is all about helping people to evaluate their lives – and to make informed choices.   

 The work of NIACE’s Older & Bolder team includes:

  • Collecting the testimonies of older learners on the benefits of their later life learning experiences. 

  • Gathering and sharing information about learning provision for older adults, from around the UK and the world. 

  • Helping to develop partnerships and networks of all kinds of learning providers. 

  • Publishing newsletters, briefing sheets and policy papers on issues relevant to older learners and those who work with them.

  • Organising conferences and seminars.

  • Running two e-mail discussion groups. 

  • Offering awards, to reward good practice and encourage others to open up opportunities for older learners. 

  • Undertaking research projects.


E-mail discussion groups

Older & Bolder runs two e-mail discussion groups with the aim of allowing older learners to explore their concerns, successes and frustrations.

The Older Learners e-mail group allows members to offer each other moral and practical support by sharing their problems and solutions.

The Older and Bolder e-mail group is aimed mainly (but not exclusively) at practitioners and providers and gives members the opportunity to pass on information about events, recent research, sources of funding, etc.

We are also currently developing a ‘Wall of Ambition’ on the Older & Bolder web site. Older learners are encouraged to post details of their learning ambitions on this page, in the form of virtual ‘bricks’ which will build a ‘Wall of Ambition’. The Wall will provide a record of the diverse goals and motivations of older learners, and will hopefully inspire others to take up the learning challenge.

Senior Learner of the Year

Each year NIACE holds the Senior Learner of the Year Award, which is presented as part of Adult Learners’ Week in May. This year’s winner was Mary Frances, aged 72 from Somerset. Mary always wanted to write for her local newspaper, and enrolled on a journalism course. She has now achieved a lifelong dream and is freelance correspondent and feature writer on her local paper.

We have held a number of other awards in recent years, including the Oldest Learner in England in 2000 (won by 107 year-old Fred Moore), the Celebrating Older Learners Campaign, and a series of Institutional Awards for organisations demonstrating innovation and good practice.

Project work 

Recent project work has included:

  • Financial Literacy and older people – two projects to examine the issues around older people and financial understanding. 

  • ‘Mind Your Language’ – collecting testimonies on audiotape from older people for whom English is not their first language to the value of their learning experiences, to highlight their needs and encourage others from their communities to come forward.

  • Learning in residential and day care settings.

If you are interested in finding out more about the work of Older & Bolder, the Older & Bolder awards, or would like to join either of the email discussion groups, please follow the link to the NIACE Older & Bolder web pages:
research/older_bolder/default.htm or contact Sasha Anderson, Older & Bolder Information Officer,



laterlife interest

The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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