Latest News

Meet our new Chief Executive

Owen Mapley

The HAFLS team welcomed the news that Owen Mapley was appointed by councillors as the new Chief Executive for Hertfordshire County Council at a meeting of full council back in October and has now been in his new role since the start of the New Year.

Owen is a keen supporter of the work HAFLS does and even presented some awards to learners at last year's 2018 Adult Achievement Awards. He later tweeted;

'This was a wonderful event - I had the honour of presenting awards to two brilliant ladies who overcame confidence and language challenges to develop their skills and secure new jobs. Very proud to help celebrate @HAFLS and their inspirational service users'

Owen was recommended for the Chief Executive role by the council’s Employment Committee following an extensive recruitment and selection process to identify the best candidate to lead the staff of the council. He joined the council as Director of Resources in early 2016, and has a wealth of financial and senior leadership experience from previous roles in the private sector and the civil service. After graduating from the University of Leicester with a degree in Business Economics, he worked for professional services firm PwC for 12 years before holding senior leadership roles with the Ministry of Justice, Her Majesty's Courts Service and the Legal Aid Agency. Prior to joining the council, he was Director of Finance & Estates at the Home Office. 

A Hertfordshire resident for the last 18 years, Owen said: “I am very proud to be appointed as the next Chief Executive for the County Council. Having close ties to Hertfordshire both personally and professionally, I look forward to working with councillors, staff, residents and partners to deliver the wide range of important services that we all rely on.”

David Williams, Leader of the Council said: “I am delighted that the recommendation of Employment Committee has been approved by Full Council and that Owen will be taking on his new role as Chief Executive of Hertfordshire County Council early in the New Year. He will inherit a very strong legacy from John Wood who will be retiring after 6 years as an outstanding Chief Executive”

Stephen Giles Medhurst, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said: 

"We welcome Owen’s appointment as Chief Executive designate and we trust he will follow in John Wood’s footsteps and look forward to working with him ensuring the council is open and engaging with the public and all councilors."

Judi Billing, Leader of the Labour Group said:

“I am delighted that Owen’s appointment has been wholly endorsed by the full council. I look forward to working with him and John Wood in the handover period and with Owen as the new Chief Executive. 

“I know that he appreciates the importance of effective opposition in local government and understands the roles and responsibilities of all 78 County Councillors in ensuring that Hertfordshire serves its communities sensitively, fairly and effectively.”

Prize draw winner all 'Fired' up for 2019!

Christmas prize draw winner

The Christmas Light Switch On event at Stevenage Town Centre on Thursday 22nd November was another huge success. HAFLS was given a VIP stand next to our valued friends at Age Concern and right next to the Main Stage. It was hard not to boogie to the great live music and it helped to keep out the cold!

We ran a prize draw which offered participants the chance to win an ‘Amazon Fire Tablet’ and there were 9 free HAFLS courses offered as runner-up prizes. The lucky “Amazon Fire Tablet winner was drawn at random on the night by Santa! The lucky winner was presented with her prize on 3rd December when we held a small celebration event.

The Study Plus team were out in force selling beautiful decorations, gifts and Christmas bunting made by the young people. A total of £62.00 was raised for their chosen charity which this year is The Living Room. Thanks to all the young people for their terrific efforts.

Chair of the HAFLS Advisory board awarded CBE in New Years Honours


The New Year started with the fantastic news that Lynsi Hayward-Smith, Chair of the HAFLS Advisory board and a trustee for the Education and Training Foundation, received a CBE in recognition for her services to FE.

The head of adult learning and skills at Cambridgeshire County Council has served on the board of the ETF for almost five years, having first been appointed in 2014.

David Russell, boss of the ETF, said Ms Smith’s award was “extremely well-deserved” and gave “due recognition” to the “sustained impact” she has had in her career.

“She has been instrumental in shaping the success of the ETF over its first five years as a trustee, ensuring we never lost focus on adult learning or on overall impact,” he said.

HAFLS welcomes guests from Myanmar - Thursday 24th January

HAFLS was honoured to host special guests from the Department of Alternative Education in Myanmar and VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), who visited us in a bid to learn more about our county’s approach to community learning, as part of a wider trip to learn about adult education in the UK.

Following years of military rule, Myanmar is rapidly experiencing significant change as it transitions to become a democracy with heightened expectations of quality of life.

Myanmar remains one of the world’s least developed nations despite being a fertile country, rich in natural resources. The 2014 census found that 29% of people in rural areas live below the poverty threshold, while in urban areas the poverty incidence is estimated at 15%. The annual budget allocated to education by the government is low; only about 1.2% is spent per year on education. Subsequently education benefits mainly those who can afford to pay for it. Schooling is compulsory until the end of elementary school, probably about 9 years old, but many drop out of school earlier as they are sent off to work.

 Arriving at County Hall, ready to learn more about HAFLS, were Dr Zaw Win (Acting Director General), Dr Win Pe (Director of Policy, Planning and Management), Dr Win Win Kyaing (Director of Literacy Education) and Dr Li Li Myint (Director of Quality Assurance, Accreditation, Monitoring and Evaluation).    

The visitors from Myanmar were accompanied by Clare Crocker, Ben Williams and Gwen Harris from VSO (https://www.vsointernational.org/) who are supporting Myanmar’s transition to a more equitable, open and accountable society in a number of ways, including improving education services. Since 2012, VSO has been working with the government, local and international partners to ensure the most disadvantaged participate in development that benefits them.

Our guests were met by Chantal Lommel (Head of HAFLS) and Philippa Morton (Strategy and Innovations Manager), who introduced HAFLS and gave an overview of how the service runs.

The complexities of the HAFLS service were then discussed further, including protocols and best practice with regards to the procurement of community learning, project models, quality monitoring, partnership building, contract/partnership management and project management. The visitors were able to ask questions and consider how the principles presented by HAFLS could potentially be incorporated into their vision for the future of Myanmar’s adult education.

Myanmar visitors - ch

(Chantal and Philippa present the workings of HAFLS)

Following a brief break for lunch, the visitors were taken to a children’s centre in Waltham Cross, where HAFLS run some of their courses allowing learners to take advantage of the crèche facilities at the centre.

Here, the visitors were able to observe a mixed-levels English literacy lesson in progress. When asked, the learners revealed their diverse backgrounds. With ethnicities ranging from Algerian, to Iraqi, Russian to Nigerian, it was heartening to see the learners in their work groups, planning a day out in London, using leaflets and other materials that the tutors had acquired.

Myanmar visitors - cc

(Our visitors pictured with the class tutors at the Waltham Cross children centre)

Following the conclusion of the lesson, the tutors, Gill and Maria, answered questions from our Myanmar guests, including queries on the learning records and course structures.

The day concluded with a visit to the Waltham Cross Community hub. Here, our guests firstly met with HAFLS Health & Wellbeing and Family Learning tutor, Dionne Phillips, who gave a presentation on HAFLS Health and Wellbeing provision which aims to engage adults with the most barriers to learning and employment. Then, representatives from some of HAFLS’ valued partners met with our Myanmar guests and discussed how the HAFLS partnership works for them. The partners who agreed to share their perspective about subcontracting and partnership arrangements were: East Herts and Broxbourne CVS, Herts Mind Network, Oaklands College and SPS Training Limited.

Our visitors appeared to have found the insight into all that HAFLS offers very useful and inspiring. With a first-hand experience of a lesson in progress and a discussion with our valued partners, we could not have been more proud of all that HAFLS stands for and hope that, in time, lessons learnt during their trip to the UK can help in bringing together the community in Myanmar to develop a love of lifelong learning.

Myanmar visitors - WX

(Our guests, pictured with partners at our Waltham Cross community hub)

Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life