Ideas, experiences and challenges: Wise Wales Partnership for Wales Conference 2015

Wise Wales held its second annual Partnership for Wales Conference in Neath on Wednesday 3 June. Over 50 delegates from the higher and further education sectors in Wales came together to exchange ideas, experiences, and challenges.

The conference marked the launch of the first stage of the Pathways to Partnership toolkit, a resource developed by Wise Wales to enable students’ unions and institutions to map their current partnership activities and identify ways in which they can develop.

A higher education partnership staff network was also launched, and held its inaugural meeting at the conference. The network will run throughout the year and is intended to be forum for staff to support one another and share good practice and experiences.

Delegates at the conference had the opportunity to hear Professor Jo Smedley of the University of South Wales talking about ‘the learner journey’. They also took part in a number of workshops.

We were pleased to welcome Will Page and James Smith from the University of Exeter and Exeter Students’ Guild respectively, who spoke about their experiences of student engagement. Zoe Pulling from Warwickshire College spoke with FE delegates about student engagement and the multi-campus institute. In addition, Tom Lowe, VP Education, and Cassie Shaw, a Student Fellow and Student Engagement Assistant, both from Winchester Students’ Union spoke about enhanced collaboration and shared their ideas for inspiring students to be agents of change.

As well as all of these interesting and engaging workshops, delegates had the opportunity to come together in Good Practice and Ideas Sharing Showcases, one each for the HE and FE sectors. These sessions, led by Wise Wales’ Student Partnership Consultants, saw students, partnership practitioners, and others, sharing their experiences of how partnership has worked well in their institutions, and building relationships with each other.

NUS Wales Deputy President Ebbi Ferguson also launched the Further Education Media Toolkit, which aims to support students and officers in FE with media relations and campaigning.

Ms Ferguson closed the conference, calling on delegates to define what activism means to them, and to use their power and influence to effect real change on the matters that they care about.

The Wise Wales team extends its thanks to all external speakers for their inspiring words throughout the day, and all the delegates who joined us in Neath.