South West Region

Shared Learning Projects

This page contains information about Shared Learning Projects.

  • Shared...Two or more partners
  • Learning ...Involves active learning
  • Project...Defined timeframe with beginning, middle & end
  • Shared ...Results shared with a wider audience

A variety of fascinating SLPs have taken place in the South West some of these are listed below. A Shared Learning Project (SLP) can be a partnership of one or more u3as with an outside institution such as a University, a Museum or a charity such as the National Trust. Or it can be an agreed project shared between two or more u3as, for example a project featuring a coastline, a river or a shared historical study shared between several u3as in a particular area.
This type of project usually lasts from between 3 months to 1 year.

Two exciting new projects are due to begin in your area very soon. These are The National u3a High Street Project and a new Shared Learning Project in partnership with King's College London funded by the Wellcome Trust called "Our 1901 Postal Pensioners".

Bath u3a
Surveying cemetery chapels in the area

Bath & Wells u3as
Researching objects in Bath Museum

Devizes u3a
Involved in archive research at Lacock Abbey on grotto and water gardens development and biographies of 13 owners – These to be made available to visitors.

Downside Abbey and Radstock u3as
Downside Abbey and volunteers from Radstock u3a have been working on photographic records held in the monastic library of the Abbey. Alongside the Downside team the volunteers have been digitalising the photographic archive and scanning images. This has enabled the team of volunteers to zoom in and inspect details from the images that previously people have not been able to see. These images in the valued books have been looked after by one of the largest monastic libraries in the country. The project is continuing with more images to work on. The work and has resulted in an ongoing partnership between the u3a and Downside Abbey. Members of the team were invited by the staff and have been able to visit the Abbey. As part of the partnering approach to Shared Learning Projects the staff at Downside Abbey also invited Radstock’s U3A volunteers to visit Glastonbury Abbey as something of a thank-you for the work that they have been doing over the last few months. The visit was a reciprocal arrangement between the volunteering parts of the two organisations and more such visits are planned as the work in the Shared Learning Project continues with ongoing opportunities for the u3a volunteers

Happiness Across the Ages
Exeter u3a developed a partnership over the years with Exeter University. One of the outcomes of this was a series of lectures for u3a members. On one particular occasion, representatives of the university’s Classics department talked about the Ancient Greek philosophers’ differing concepts of happiness. From this grew an intergenerational shared learning/research project that compared our current thinking around happiness with that of the ancient philosophers. u3a members were taught the skills of interviewing for qualitative research and interviews were carried out by students of Classics and u3a members, interviewing each other. The data collected was analysed by u3a members as well as the students and in any published work, the u3a members involved have been cited as co-authors in every instance. They have also produced a briefing on what was involved in order to pass on lessons learnt to others

Minehead & District u3a
Minehead and District SLPs
In 2014, Minehead’s first SLP on the history of the town’s old hospital was successfully completed. In March of that year, the new Minehead Museum was launched and our SLP became one of its exhibits that year. The museum, although small, is thriving and the old hospital SLP was still on display as the fifth anniversary was celebrated in March 2019. The curator, Julian Luke has been very keen to work with the u3a and has encouraged U3A members to undertake research on topics for annual exhibitions designed to maximise the viewing of as many artefacts as possible. To date, Minehead U3A has completed a further three SLPs with the museum. They are listed below in chronological order.
2015 -2016: Entertainment and Leisure in Minehead’s past
2016- 2017: Maritime Minehead
2017-2018: Minehead on the Move

Norton Radstock with Downside
The u3a Downside Shared Learning Project is using our u3a volunteers to contribute to another important project at the School. We are helping to conserve the photographic memorial of more than 200 boys killed in service during the First and Second World Wars. Downside SLP

Plymouth u3a
1. Many of the paintings in the Plymouth Art Gallery were not attributed to any artists and very little was known about them, so members of the team are researching the paintings and giving presentation on their findings. This is ongoing.
2. Working with Ford Park Cemetery investigating who is buried there and recording their findings in a book.

Saltash u3a
Reading the Hurlers. Saltash u3a has recently been awarded £33,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), for an exciting project called Reading the Hurlers. The community geo-archaeological project focuses on the early Bronze Age site of the Hurlers stone circles, near the village of Minions, Bodmin Moor.

Salisbury u3as
1. 30 people looked at two collections at Salisbury Museum
2. Assisted the museum with its refurbishment

Torbay u3a
1. Working with Torquay Museum researching the lives and works of Devon naturalists.
2. Working with Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum researching the history of the connection between Teignmouth and Newfoundland.

Wells & Cheddar u3as
Working at National Trust property Lytes Cary looking for a medieval village in the grounds. Ongoing.

West Wilts u3a
1. Three projects with Trowbridge Museum researching objects and writing a leaflet on the research.
2. Craft groups collaborating with Trowbridge Museum on their Magna Carta project.

Barbie’s story:

My name is Barbie Thompson and I am a member of the Plymouth u3a Shared Learning Group as well as Looking at Art, Maritime & Military History, Music and Philology groups.

Thanks to the u3a SLP I was invited to present my paper 'The Role of Plymouth & Dartmoor during the War of 1812' at several bicentennial conferences, culminating in June 2013 at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. There were 50 speakers with only two from the UK. It was a wonderful experience never to be forgotten.

Recently I have extended the talk to include the African American POWs that were held captive at Dartmoor Prison. Their culture, musical and dramatic performances as well as boxing lessons surprised the mainly white detainees against their previous stereotyped impressions. All were welcome to attend; including Sunday services, when gambling tables were pushed to one side for the methodist preacher. One young white sailor declared there was more entertainment to be had in their prison block than any of the others.