For over 100 years, the WEA tradition at its best has hinged around a distinctive and influential blend of programmes, people and process.
• Effective WEA programmes built on students’ experiences and interests and linked them both to a wider social and critical understanding and to social and civic action and involvement.
• An emphasis on people who missed out on education first time round so WEA offered potentially a route back into a sometimes life changing educational journey
• The development of educational processes that build a democratic relationship between tutor and students, building the curriculum together, and encouraged students to go on to become active WEA members.
Today, as we renew our own vision and values in a changing and unpredictable world, we need to think about translating these into a modern context. We are proposing to set out our defining characteristics to provide benchmarks for our own work and to enable students and others to assess us.
This list of characteristics is as follows;
• Delivered to accommodate the busy lives of part-time adult students and their diverse interests and needs
• Welcomes second chance and returning students, developing and encouraging their skills and progress as independent learners
• Engages with adult students of all ages encouraging lifelong learning throughout the life course
• Takes positive action to reach and meet the needs of those affected by economic, educational or social disadvantage
• Recognises that students have multiple aims which include confidence building, personal development, community involvement, education and employment progression and that their intentions are central to the educational process
• Develops models of provision that build group support and interaction
• Encourages critical thinking and an appreciation of wider context and different perspectives on issues
• Supports and finds ways to facilitate student involvement in course planning and delivery and engage students and former students in building and delivering provision and taking part in the governance of the Association
• Increases understanding and capacity to engage actively as citizens and communities and participatory processes
• Links with, and is responsive to the needs of local community networks and organisation
• Contributes to building a ‘learning society’