2006 Keynote Speaker Biographies
Dr Ursula Howard, Director, NRDC
Ursula is Director of the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy based at the Institute of Education, University of London.
From 1995 to January 2003 Ursula was Director of Research at the Learning and Skills Development Agency (formerly FEDA). During this time she led the Agency's research strategy and programmes. In 2001 she was instrumental in establishing the Learning and Skills Research Centre, a specialist strategic research centre focusing on long-term policy development and improving practice across the field of post-education and training. At LSDA she also directed a number of national development programmes which supported the implementation of new policy, and led a range of national evaluation and impact studies.
Ursula started working in adult literacy in 1974 in a voluntary adult education centre in South London. She continued teaching and organising in literacy, numeracy and language for many years in London and Brighton. In the late 1980s, she became a manager in further, adult and community education but has always worked on the principle that literacy, numeracy and ESOL are the heart of post-16 learning. She was Vice-Principal at Kensington and Chelsea FE College before joining LSDA in 1995. Her own research focuses on the development and use of writing as skill and means of expression. Her PhD was about the acquisition and meaning of learning to write in 19th Century England, comparing meaning and experience across time with the late 20th Century context.
John Vorhaus, Associate Director, Research Programmes, NRDC
Dr John Vorhaus is Associate Director, Research, at the National Research and Development Centre in Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC) at the Institute of Education. He was previously a member of the Research Directorate at the Learning and Skills Development Agency, and, before that, he was Head of Humanities at an adult education institution in central London.
John has taught philosophy at the Universities of Bristol and London, and also in prison, adult and further education, and he continues to publish in the areas of political philosophy, philosophy of law and philosophy of education.
On-going research is taken up with persons with profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities; their political status, the question of whether and how they are shown respect, and an examination of the teaching and learning practices best fitted to their needs and abilities.
Neil Robertson, Head of Skills for Life Strategy Unit, DfES
Neil Robertson came to the DfES in February 2006 as the new Head of the Skills for Life Strategy Unit. Educated in Edinburgh, Neil joined the construction industry before reading and tutoring Sociology at Edinburgh University. Following a spell in youth work, specialising in training, research and addressing drugs misuse, he moved to the Scottish Further Education Unit to develop his interest in skills through a range of literacy and technology projects. Neil then worked with City & Guilds where he held management responsibilities in customer relations, quality assurance and product development. In January 2003, he was appointed Deputy Director responsible for skills development at the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
Alan Tuckett, Director, National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE)
Alan Tuckett has been Director of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) in the UK since 1988. He is a visiting professor in the Centre for Labour Market Studies and the Institute for Lifelong Learning at the University of Leicester, and Special Professor in Continuing Education at the University of Nottingham. He held a similar role in 1993 at the University of Warwick.
He sits on the Government's Skills Alliance, and is a member of the statutory Adult Learning Committee of the Learning and Skills Council. He is a member of the Council and Strategy Committee of the Open University and of the Council of City and Guilds. He is past President of the Pre-School Learning Alliance.
Before joining NIACE Alan worked as Principal of the Friends Centre in Brighton 1973-1981. In the 1980s he was Principal at Clapham - Battersea Adult Education Institute in the ILEA, working to promote adult learning to those who benefited least from initial education.
Whilst working in London Alan became President of the International League for Social Commitment in Adult Education, which led to advisory work with President Arafat of the Palestinian National Authority and with the South African government.
Working with colleagues Alan initiated Adult Learners' Week as an annual learning festival in the UK and has helped its spread to almost 50 countries.
Alan has been awarded six honorary doctorates (D Univ at the Open University, Sheffield Hallam University, Bradford University, Staffordshire University, DCL at Kent University and D Litt from Brighton), Fellowship of the City and Guilds of London Institute and, in 1995, an O.B.E.
Deborah Brandt, Professor of English, University of Wisconsin, USA
Deborah teaches undergraduate writing and graduate courses in literacy and writing studies. She is author most recently of Literacy in American Lives (Cambridge University Press, 2001), a book that traces the changing conditions for literacy learning across the twentieth century. Literacy in American Lives was winner of the 2003 Grawemeyer Award in Education, which is designed to bring attention to scholarly works that have the potential for wide application and influence.
Dr Leslie J. Limage, Programme Specialist, Division of Basic Education at UNESCO Headquarters
Dr. Leslie J. Limage is Programme Specialist in the Division of Basic Education at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. She has worked in international literacy policy, research and practice for nearly 30 years, including coordination of the International Literacy Year Secretariat at UNESCO in 1990; participation in the UK literacy campaign and provision in the early 1970s and has written extensively on literacy issues in both developing and industrialized countries throughout her career. She has contributed background papers on histories of literacy and development; literate environments and book publishing and a bilingual glossary for the 2006 EFA Global Monitoring Report on Literacy. Her graduate studies were undertaken at the University of London Institute of Education and the University of Paris (where her doctoral dissertation in 1975 was a comparative study of literacy and culture, policies and practices in two developing and two industrialized countries).She was involved in the creation of national level literacy agencies, firstly in the UK and in 1983 in France, as well as others.
Carolyn Medel-Anonuevo, Senior Research Specialist, UNESCO, Institute of Education
Carolyn Medel-Añonuevo is a Senior Research Specialist at the UNESCO Institute of Education, Hamburg which is a non-profit international research, training, information, documentation and publishing centre on literacy, non-formal education, adult and lifelong learning. Carolyn leads on various projects at UIE promoting international and regional dialogue and cooperation with a particular focus on gender issues and adult basic education.
Mary Hamilton, Professor of Adult Learning and Literacy, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Lancaster University
Mary Hamilton is based in the Centre for the Study of Education and Training
(CSET) within the Department of Educational Research and the Lancaster Literacy
Research Centre. Her main areas of interest are in adult and continuing education:
policy issues and public representations of literacy; comparative perspectives,
especially across industrialised societies; processes of informal adult learning
and issues of access and transition for mature students. She is a founder member
of the national network, Research and Practice in Adult Literacy (RaPAL ) and
directs the NRDC practitioner led research initiative.