Sylvia Kent is a learner at the WEA Billericay branch. She has studied numerous English Literature and History courses with WEA. Here is what she had to say about the classes and her experience of WEA:
“My family always expected me to earn my keep upon leaving school at 15 and since then it was always a personal dream to return to English Literature and History studies which I left behind at secondary modern school. I was determined to study my chosen subjects at a WEA evening classes which I took after an exhausting day’s work at an international firm in London.
How wonderful it would have been to have known about the Workers’ Education Association in the 1960s! I continued to sign up for evening courses in whatever topic I needed to know about which incidentally were all quite expensive but I thought necessary. By 1979 I had a young family and started working for the Official report (Hansard) in Westminster and the Peers Office.
It wasn’t until 1986 that I owned my first computer and another ten years before AOL Broadband was set up. I had no excuses then for not learning more about the WEA, its impressive history and its huge help benefiting many people in a similar situation who had drawn short educational straws.
In 1996 I joined a WEA class in Brentwood where I studied Victorian women writers. I loved the course content, was impressed by my tutor’s knowledge and made friends with my fellow students. As a freelance journalist and now a writer of seven books I have also made numerous useful networking contacts.
Decades after leaving school I am still learning. My latest WEA class covered the work of the writer Alan Bennett. Again, I enjoyed learning about this writer through our superb tutor Stephen O’Kane. Our friendly chairman Denise Fielding couldn’t have been more helpful and the students obviously enjoyed the weekly gatherings. During eight classes we learnt via film and sound clips and did lots of background reading. I hope to find more time in between writing my own books, to study further topics. Long may WEA continue!”
Sylvia’s tutor Stephen O’Kane commented in a local advertising journal “ I really look forward to teaching literature at Billericay WEA. They are a particularly friendly and welcoming group. The sessions are always lively and fun. Everyone is very relaxed and I think the branch members have established an excellent learning and teaching environment”.