WEA News http://www.wea.org.uk/news This is the feed of the latest news from the WEA. <![CDATA[New research from Warwick University calls for urgent action on adult education]]> The first report commissioned by the APPG for Adult Education, conducted by the Institute for Employment Research (IER) at Warwick University, is released today, calling for a cohesive national strategy for adult education.

The Adult Education: too important to be left to chance report is based on independent research and a comprehensive review of the benefits of adult education for individuals, employers and communities, addressing in particular the most disadvantaged in society.

Findings from IER’s ‘Call for Evidence’, Town Hall meetings and interviews with senior leaders highlight a stated danger that national policy for adult education could disappear by 2020.

The report outlines the economic and social costs to not providing basic skills, and significant gains in providing them. It calls for a new national strategy and introduction of coherent adult education policies which are vital to bring disadvantaged adults back to learning and into the workplace. 

The report claims that the positive examples of adult education in England are largely hidden to the general public, policymakers and Ministers with very uneven provision, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

In response, the report sets out five key recommendations to government, to secure future success in adult learning. These are:

  • A new strategy: establish a national and regional strategy for adult education, health, employability and wellbeing
  • Redistribute resources: Develop an adult education framework that seeks to rebuild and rebalance resources fairly for adults across the different life-stages
  • Improve awareness: Provide careers information, advice and guidance in local communities and building capacity in the adult education workforce to make greater use of labour market intelligence and midlife reviews
  • Data and evidence: Identify and gather more evidence on the full impact of adult education, including the voices of adults and their needs.
  • Private sector support: Encourage more employers to step up and offer opportunities to adults, particularly older adults keen to remain active in employment.


In addition to a review of existing literature, a formal call for evidence and interviews with stakeholders, the study analysed survey results and focus groups with adult learners to identify the personal challenges and motivations involved in participation, awareness of and barriers to accessing provision. It found:

  • Awareness: there is little awareness of adult and community learning. Those who knew about vocational and employability courses run by colleges or private training providers felt that these were low level courses that might not help them gain employment. Very few said that they had a written career or job plan and they were unaware of the role adult and community learning could have in increasing their chances of sustained employment.
  • Commitment to learning: attending an adult learning course can have a positive impact on improving: knowledge and skills for personal goals (84 per cent); motivations to keep learning (71 per cent); being able to make well informed decisions about next steps (58 per cent); and confidence in dealing with new situations (51 per cent).
  • Reasons for learning: a significant proportion reported that the course subject had been a source of encouragement (80 per cent), whilst location and transport links were a further important factor (42 per cent) together with the reputation of the college, course or tutor (42 per cent). For adults not engaged in learning, a desire for more tailored and flexible local provision that meets their needs was a common theme.

Chair of the APPG on Adult Education Chi Onwurah MP said: ““The APPG was established to champion adult education and the huge benefits it brings, not just for individuals, but to the wider economy as well. I welcome the recommendations in this report and we will be pushing Ministers to recognise the importance of adult education not just with warm words but with a strategy that contains real actions.
“As the country grapples with its future in what is a period of uncertainty and upheaval following the referendum, now is a good time for Ministers to take a fresh look at adult education and get behind something that clearly has huge potential to change lives for the better.”

The main author of the report, Deirdre Hughes OBE, Principal Research Fellow at the University of Warwick, Institute for Employment Research (IER) said: “Over the last decade, we have seen outstanding progress in adult education reaching deep into local communities and improving people’s life chances. Our research highlights the social, economic and cultural benefits of such provision. However, there is a serious danger that this type of provision gets seriously forgotten in national and/or regional policies. This would be to the detriment of millions of adults who simply want to improve their life chances and need some educational support along the way.” 

Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive at the Worker’s Educational Association said: “We can see from this research that there is good work being done within the adult learning community. However it is largely going under the radar. We need to raise awareness of the work already being done and urgently address areas for improvement - the voices of adult learners need to be heard so that planned provision is relevant and linked to their individual needs. We need greater cohesion and improved strategy on a national level, and a commitment to improving awareness of adult learning services for the hardest to reach. Adult learning can transform lives, and that is why it is too important to be left to chance.”

Media coverage of the report:


http://www.wea.org.uk/news/New-research-from-Warwick-University-calls-for-urgent-action.aspx Wed, 06 Jul 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
<![CDATA[WEA project shortlisted for National Lottery Award]]>

A project developed by WEA Ambassador Lisa Robinson – ‘Slave Trade Legacies: The Colour of Money’ – has beaten off stiff competition from over 600 organisations to reach the public voting stage in this year’s National Lottery Awards – the annual search for the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects. 

The project explored the extent to which some UK heritage visitor attractions acknowledge their links to the transatlantic slave trade. Volunteers were given training from a range of expert facilitators and analysed venues with well-known or hidden links to slavery. They also explored how their own ancestors have contributed to the material wealth of the UK including the wealth of certain individuals.

'Slave Trade Legacies: The Colour of Money' is competing against six other projects to be crowned the winner of the Heritage category. Winners of the seven National Lottery Awards categories will each get a £3,000 cash prize to spend on their project, an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy and attend a star-studded glittering Awards ceremony in London, broadcast on BBC One in September.

WEA Ambassador Lisa Robinson says:  “We’re delighted to have reached the finals of The National Lottery Awards. Lottery funding has supported a team of volunteers to visit and engage with heritage sites, take part in workshops and learning sessions, and capture their journey on their own website and social media. It also enabled the project to produce and screen films. It has also enabled us to work in partnership with local and national adult learning and education providers such as the Workers’ Educational Association and a range of UK universities.

“It’s easy to vote so we’re hoping people support us, and it would be a fantastic reward for all the volunteers involved in the project to receive national recognition for their hard work and commitment.”

Lisa Robinson first became involved in the WEA over 16 years ago as a Tutor Organiser in the East Midlands region. She has since held a number of positions including branch secretary, branch member, tutor and member of the former national women’s committee.  Lisa continues as a tutor and for some time her social enterprise, Bright Ideas Nottingham, has developed learning provision in partnership with the WEA East Midlands.  This has included the award winning Women Leading for a Change programme.  

As a national Ambassador for the WEA Lisa is always looking at ways in which she can work in partnership and in 2014 she approached the WEA to get involved in the Slave Trade Legacies Project.  Together we designed and delivered a course which proved to be the first of its kind in the UK, attracting new learners to the organisation. The course provided students the opportunity to learn and dialogue with academics from University of Nottingham, University of Leicester and University College London.

To vote for 'Slave Trade Legacies: The Colour of Money' please click here or telephone 0844 836 9675.

Voting runs for four weeks from 9am on Wednesday 22 June until midnight Wednesday 20 July.

 You can follow the campaign on twitter: #NLAwards.

http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-project-shortlisted-for-National-Lottery-Award.aspx Thu, 23 Jun 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
<![CDATA[Adler Legacy Day Celebrates WEA Achievement in Oxford]]>  


The hosting of an event in Oxford each year was one of the conditions of the incredibly generous legacy gift of around £300,000 left to the WEA by Catherine and Fred Adler. As devoted socialists, trade union activists and supporters of adult education, the Adlers were passionate advocates of the transformative power of education. Working within the theme of ‘democracy’, this year’s event was a positive testament to our work and Catherine and Fred would’ve been delighted with the opportunities the WEA are providing for people in the Oxford area.

With tutors, staff, volunteers, students, local councillors and WEA partners in attendance, the morning began with our ‘Making a Difference’ video which provided a neat overview of the our ethos under the themes of Employability, Health and Wellbeing, Community Engagement and Culture. With focus on Preparing For Work and Helping in School courses, WEA tutors Heather Dommet and Vivian Vermede introduced students Lubna and Shamena who addressed the audience with stories of how the WEA has helped them to integrate, gain confidence and find employment and volunteer opportunities. (Read student case studies below)

A highly enjoyable part of this year’s event came when creative writing tutor Kate Joyce and two of her students Rita and Owen delivered their original, intertwining story of three individuals on the same day in Oxford City Centre each affected by issues of democracy. Rita tells us of how creative writing has become a fresh personal challenge during her retirement and Owen suggests that it is “in all of us somewhere.” Kate also highlighted how it can be used for social and political change and as a democratic tool to create divergent voices.

Tutor Simon Hill gave a very interesting talk on the topic of ‘Can democracy Survive War?’ He spoke about the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act and how, at a time when Britain was fighting for freedom, various forms of censorship and social controls were applied to public discourse. He also touched on the Emergency Powers Act prior to World War Two and the more recent terrorism acts which, in attempting to make the population secure, unavoidably restrict civil liberties. We learn that such restrictions are often not repealed after war and we’re informed that no women and around 40% of men didn’t have the vote at a time the country was fighting for democracy in World War One.

Emma Carney briefly touched on last year’s Save Adult Education campaign where 11,000 signatures and 500 letters to MPs resulted in a visit to 10 Downing Street and a positive outcome in the face of government cuts. We then heard about the two inspiring mosaic projects with students of diverse age, ability and background working together to produce two pieces currently on display at The Barn in Greater Leys and Littlemore Community Centre. The day concluded with two students, Ali from Afghanistan and Aziz from Iraq, telling their stories of how they partook in WEA Community Interpreting Courses to help others like themselves to integrate and find success.

With this year’s event providing further testimony to lives changed and opportunities provided, Fred and Catherine would be proud to know that the WEA are working hard to do justice to their wonderful gift.

Read Jo Brown's Story

Read Lubna Mahmoud's Story

Read Shamena Ali's Story

http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Annual-Adler-Legacy-Day-Celebrates-WEA-Work-in-Oxford.aspx Thu, 26 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
<![CDATA[WEA's Julie James-Turner leads art group to V&A victory]]>

Image: WEA Tutor Julie James-Turner at London's Morley Gallery

A local community arts group for adults with learning difficulties has been given the seal of approval from an esteemed panel at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The group, who study with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), entered a national competition, whereby entrants created new art works inspired by V&A collections. Their group composition was hand selected out of hundreds of entries to appear in the competition exhibition – ‘Inspired by…’ – at London’s Morley Gallery. Taking their inspiration from the V&A’s South East Asia collection, their work – an intricate tapestry – focuses on the rich cultural heritage of the North West.

Julie James-Turner, WEA Tutor, says: “I’m incredibly proud of my students. Having their achievement recognised by such an expert group, in a blind selection process, is wonderful.  For me, it highlights that the arts are for absolutely everyone. Through my work with the WEA, I teach students with physical and learning disabilities and with every class, see how they grow in confidence and self-esteem. This win has given them such a boost.” 

The ‘Inspired by…’ exhibition is open to the public from 17th May – 17th June 2016 at Morley Gallery, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7HT and entry is free. Opening times vary. For further information visit www.inspired.by


http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEAs-Julie-James-Turner-leads-art-group-to-VA-victory.aspx Tue, 24 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
<![CDATA[Festival of Learning 2016]]>

The Festival of Learning 2016 (previously Adult Learners’ Week) is a national celebration of lifelong learning, with 'Have a Go' learning events taking place during May and June.

As part of the celebrations, there will be awards ceremonies taking place later in the year, showcasing achievements of outstanding individuals, tutors, employers and projects in England.

The deadline for nominations is 5pm, Friday 20th May 2016.

If you would like to nominate a remarkable person, employer or project, please go to the Festival of Learning website: 


http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Festival-of-Learning-2016.aspx Tue, 10 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
<![CDATA[Roots of democracy]]>

2015 was the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, providing an opportunity to reflect on the development of democracy, human rights and freedom. The WEA has put together a pack of materials covering:

1. Origins of the Magna Carta 

2. Legacy of the Magna Carta to the present 

3. The nature of rights and freedoms 

4. Potential threats to rights and freedoms in future

5. How to develop a campaign strategy to expand or protect freedoms

The materials consist of Power Point slides with activities, information, handouts and links to resources online.

Click here ot visit WEA Learn Online for more information.

http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Roots-of-democracy.aspx Wed, 27 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
<![CDATA[Government launches new Culture White Paper]]>

Photo: A WEA Southern Region art class

For the first time in more than 50 years, the government has published a white paper on culture. It is the second ever to be released and documents the Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s commitment to nurturing public support for the arts.

The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) has a rich legacy in fostering cultural engagement in communities – from the Pitmen Painters, whose impressive feats were charted in the eponymous play by renowned playwright Lee Hall, to J.L. Carr, described in his Independent obituary as ‘one of the most distinctive and idiosyncratic novelists of the post-war era’.  We were one of the organisations consulted by the DCMS, as our valuable work in this field is still going strong today.

The WEA is referenced in the government paper, with the charity’s latest impact data highlighting the beneficial effect of adult education in increasing cultural participation.  In 2014/15, over 2,000 classes took place in crafts, creative arts and design with over 28,000 students starting a course, including over 2,000 students in 178 creative writing classes, and over 6,500 students in 474 performing arts classes. Of the students taking part, 22 per cent were from black or ethnic minority backgrounds and 41 per cent had a disability. Half of the students were on means-tested benefits and 28 per cent from disadvantaged postcodes.

According to the charity’s 2015 impact research, 81 per cent of all students at the WEA are involved in more cultural activities, which include reading, following their participation in a WEA class - regardless of the subject. In addition, the study found that 36 per cent of all students valued the arts, music or literature more than they had previously whilst 35 per cent had a greater understanding of other cultures.

It is clear that lifelong learning plays a vital role in increasing participation in the arts.  By ensuring that it is available for all, we help to protect our cultural heritage and nurture creativity and expression.

http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Government-launches-new-Culture-White-Paper.aspx Tue, 05 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
<![CDATA[WEA Conference 2016]]>

The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) biennial conference took place at the historic Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield earlier this month. Tutors, students, members, volunteers and colleagues from across the country were in attendance, with vigorous discussion around sustainability (the theme of the 2016 conference) and the future of the charity.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, delivered a rousing speech on co-operation and the need to challenge the consumer society. He said that "we need to practice the skills of empathy" and use the UN Framework to deliver sustainability. Paul Allan, who has an extensive background in the environmental field, with over 25 years’ experience in the renewable energy industry then spoke about his work with the Centre for Alternative Technology. He has been instrumental in developing a wide range of renewable energy systems and is now leading on the ground-breaking Zero Carbon Britain research.

British politician and academic Lord David Blunkett delivered the keynote speech at the evening reception. Speaking from personal experience, Lord Blunkett told the audience of the challenges he faced when returning to education and of the ultimate gain. If he had not secured his O-level qualifications by attending evening classes, he would not have been able to attend university and subsequently forge a career in national politics.

Another highlight of the conference was the WEA Awards 2016 ceremony. Each year, the charity celebrates educational excellence, achievement and best practice. Award-winning journalist Nadine Dereza hosted the event, which highlighted the fantastic work of the students, tutors and staff that make the WEA special.

Speaking on this year’s ceremony, Ruth Spellman, WEA Chief Executive, said: “I would like to thank the WEA teams in our Yorkshire and Humber and North West regions who worked tirelessly to ensure that the 2016 conference was a triumph. I was privileged to hear from a variety of wonderful speakers and educational practitioners and felt honoured to share the success stories of the WEA Awards recipients.

Events such as these serve to reiterate the value of adult education – it is something which we must strive to protect given its life-enhancing and life-changing effect. ”

http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Conference-2016.aspx Wed, 23 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
<![CDATA[International Women's Day 2016]]> Gender parity is the theme for this year and individuals and groups are being urged to take action in order to accelerate equality for all.

Over my lifetime I have witnessed remarkable developments in terms of gender equality. Women’s lives have been transformed by technology, changes in our economy and in social attitudes so that women expect to compete on equal terms. Yet life chances are persistently unequal.

As Christine Lagarde, chief executive of the IMF, said in the 2014 Dimbleby Lecture, women “face discrimination at birth, on the school bench, in the boardroom. They face reticence of the marketplace – and of the mind”.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, reminds us that far too few women run FTSE 100 companies and the pipeline of talent gets blocked by men who, more obviously, fit in. These uncomfortable realities have made me reflect on my own journey.

Today I am proud to be chief executive of the Workers’ Educational Association. The adult education charity has been going for more than a century and it is as badly needed today as it was in 1903.

A survey carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2013 ranked England and Northern Ireland 14th for adult literacy and 16th for adult numeracy. This low level of adult skills inevitably impacts on the success of the economy as a whole.

According to the charity Go ON UK, nearly a quarter of the adult population lack basic digital skills, a phenomenon that affects women more than men, given time taken out because of childbirth.

Which is why the WEA helps thousands of working people and those in the poorest communities to return to education, whatever their age or income. People like my grandfather, who left school at 11 but who enrolled on a WEA course and eventually won a trade union scholarship to Ruskin College, Oxford, and another to Peterhouse at Cambridge.

Leading an organisation was something that I thought was beyond my grasp when growing up in a small Welsh mining town in the 1960s. When I read economics at Cambridge I was intimidated by the cutglass accents and the seemingly easy social confidence of my fellow students.

My accent wasn’t right and the first time I was invited out for dinner I turned up at midday. My first proper job was at the National Coal Board.

Working in such a male dominated industry in the 1970s was no picnic and, despite coal being in my blood, career opportunities were non-existent for women. Like many mothers, my career stalled after I had children. After my third was born I had to deal with redundancy and the serious illness of my husband. For a while, life was bleak.

Childcare costs plus working part-time meant that I was struggling financially. It is a vicious cycle that affects many women, which is why we have to do more to support mothers in the workplace.


There is so much work to be done in the fight for equality. Last year, the WEA launched a campaign focusing on the importance of education and lifelong learning, to enable women to overcome the disadvantages they face in society.

The majority of our students are women and many of them use courses as a means to reskill or retrain. We must do more to promote inclusive and flexible workplace cultures.

The importance of this was recently confirmed by the Centre for the Modern Family, a think-tank established by Scottish Widows. Its latest report, published last week, revealed that one in four UK workers would sacrifice pay for greater flexibility.

The UK still has a way to go before men and women are on an equal footing. According to the World Economic Forum it is now ranked 18th out of 145 countries in terms of the gender gap, an improvement from the 26th place ranking it achieved last year.

So what do we do? According to the report no country in the world has achieved gender equality but I think there are lessons we can learn from those at the top of the league table: Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

I believe that true equality is possible. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take another 117 years until the pay gap between men and women is closed. Education is at least part of the answer.

We need to learn to be both gender and colour blind. We also need to recognise and reward good practice wherever we see it, learn from our own experience and the experience of other countries and cultures.

Globalisation has the potential to open up opportunities and to encourage wider participation – and global organisations need seriously to address widening and deepening the talent pool if they want to continue to be successful.

Governments need to take tough action where human values of respect and dignity are compromised and we need to tackle head-on the biggest temptation of them all: to set our sights too low and quit the field when the battle is not yet won.

This article first appeared in the Sunday Express.

http://www.wea.org.uk/news/International-Womens-Day-2016.aspx Tue, 08 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
<![CDATA[UK workers prepared to sacrifice pay for greater flexibility]]>
  • 23% of workers prepared to take a pay cut in return for fewer working hours
  • More than a fifth (21%) of employees without children say parents receive better support
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of medium-sized businesses do only what is legally required to support flexibility
  • Almost one in four UK workers are willing to take a pay cut in exchange for more flexible working hours as pressure builds on employers struggling to live up to employees’ expectations.

    The latest report from Scottish Widows’ think tank, the Centre for the Modern Family, revealed that although employers are positive about introducing flexible working policies – with two thirds (65%) acknowledging that they increase productivity and wellbeing in the workforce, many are failing to live up to the expectations of employees, as more than one in five (21%) workers without children think parents receive better support when it comes to flexible working arrangements.

    Whilst the study of 2,000 adults and 500 businesses found that almost a third (32%) of employees with children felt their employer provided equal support for all, only 20% without children agreed, and a similar proportion (21%) of those without children claimed that parents received better support.

    The findings showed employers’ responses reflected this perception, with more than half (51%) offering flexibility for mothers with young children. However, far fewer are supportive of fathers with young children (35%), older workers (26%) and other employees (34%) who may have additional responsibilities such as elderly or unwell relatives to care for, charity and volunteering responsibilities, or a desire to attend additional training or classes outside of work.

    Concerns over logistics and cost prevent change

    Whilst businesses appear to be taking steps towards meeting the needs of parents in the workplace, varying barriers still exist when it comes to extending those policies to support employees more widely.  

    Although evidence suggests that participation in additional training outside the workplace has a positive impact on employees’ happiness[1], more than a third (35%) of employers worry that they can’t afford to go beyond what is legally required when it comes to flexible working.

    The study found that medium-sized businesses struggle the most – with almost a quarter (23%) saying they do what is legally required of them in terms of flexibility for families, but not any more than this for other employees.

    Almost three quarters of medium-sized businesses (72%) would never consider offering full-time working from home, compared to half (51%) of micro and two-fifths (40%) of enterprise businesses. Over half (52%) of medium-sized employers said this would be logistically too difficult to implement, whilst over a third (35%) worry it would impact negatively on the business.  

    Half of medium businesses also said they would not consider offering part-time working from home, compared with 16% of enterprise and 22% of large businesses for the same reasons.

    Blind to the benefits

    Despite a positive view from the majority of businesses (66%) – in particular large businesses (72%) and enterprises (77%) – that providing flexible working options enables them to attract and retain valuable employees, there is still a gap to fill between intention and action.

    Almost a fifth of businesses (17%) have called for clearer information around the business benefits of flexible working – rising to a quarter (24%) in large businesses. Almost a third of employers (31%) place the onus on employees – saying they would be encouraged to reconsider their decisions if employees would consider taking cuts in return for more flexible working hours.

    However, employees feel it is the employer’s responsibility to offer solutions, and many are keen to see changes in the workplace. A quarter (24%) of employees think employers should offer flexible shift patterns, and almost a quarter (23%) would be willing to be paid less in return for working fewer hours if this were an option.

    Anita Frew, Chair of the Centre for the Modern Family, said: “Although employers have taken promising steps towards offering more flexible working hours, there is still work to be done to ensure these policies are being rolled out to all employees. Our economy depends on a skilled and motivated workforce that functions productively – and our best hope of achieving this is through encouraging employers to adapt to the evolving needs of the workforce. Targeted support is essential to help employers understand the benefits for their business, but practical support is crucial in order to navigate the complex challenges around the implementation of more flexible initiatives and practices.”

    CMF panellist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, The 50th Anniversary Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School and President of the CIPD  said, “Flexible working is no longer something to be viewed as reserved for working parents, but something that will help increase the wellbeing of all employees. Finding ways to open these opportunities more widely – to those with other commitments such as caring for a family member, attending a training course or regularly playing for a sports team – will go a long way towards retaining top talent. Not only that, but there is evidence to support how working compressed hours can actually make people work better and more efficiently, so there is a business case for making these changes.”

    [1] According to the Long term Impact of WEA Adult Education report, over half (53%) of people feel happier in their jobs and more satisfied with their work as a result of taking part in additional training outside of work

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/UK-workers-prepared-to-sacrifice-pay-for-greater-flexibility.aspx Wed, 02 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Conference 16: A Sustainable Future]]>

    Join us for the WEA biennial conference, which will be held on 11th and 12th March 2016 in Sheffield. This year the theme of the conference is sustainability, with an event on the Friday of national significance with a great line up of speakers and workshops along with the Association Dinner. On Saturday, the formal business of the conference will take place with debates on some of the key issues affecting the WEA and adult education.

    Cutlers' Hall, Sheffield

    Friday 11 March 2016, 11am to 5pm
    Saturday 12 March 2016, 9am to 4pm


    If your costs are being met by a WEA Region or Association Services, you can register online here.


    Book your place at WEA Conference 2016 here


    WEA Chief Executive and General Secretary Ruth Spellman and Chair of Trustees John Taylor welcome you to WEA Conference and debtate the future of adult education in the UK





    Ed Mayo is Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, the national business association for co-operative and mutual enterprises. He has a track record of innovation and impact in his work to bring together economic life and social justice.

    Chair of the participation charity, Involve and Vice-President of Co-operatives Europe, Ed is also editor of The Co-operative Advantage: innovation, co-operation and why sharing business ownership is good for Britain, published in 2015, and co-author of the book Consumer Kids,

    Ed rose to prominence as director of the New Economics Foundation. He chaired the Jubilee 2000 campaign and was part of the team that founded the Fairtrade Mark. From 2003 – 2009, Ed was Chief Executive of the National Consumer Council.


    Join us for a buffet lunch and visit our exhibition at Cutlers' Hall


    Workshops to be confirmed

    The Green Curriculum

    Arts and the Environment

    Community Volunteering

    Achieving a Sustainable Future for Adult Education

    Family Learning and the Importance of Nature

    Workshops to be confirmed

    Sustaining Family and Community - The Work of Caring in Hard Times

    Green projects across England and Scotland

    Climate Change: After the Paris Talks

    Democracy Workshop

    Sustainability forum


    Join the WEA and special guest, The Right Hon. Lord Blunkett for a celebratory three course dinner at Cutlers' Hall



    Question the WEA Trustees on the latest Annual Reports and Accounts - available here.

    Debate the future of Conference and the sutainability of the WEA - the latest agenda is available here.

    Join us for a buffet lunch and visit our exhibition at Cutlers' Hall

    Help us celebrate fantastic stories from across the Association at the annual WEA Awards ceremony

    Join the debate on the shape of WEA branches in the future. Read the working group paper here.

    An update on conference from WEA General Secretary, Ruth Spellman

    * Timings and speakers are subject to change

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Conference-16-A-Sustainable-Future.aspx Thu, 18 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA elects new President]]> Current WEA Deputy President, Lynne Smith, is set to become President of the Association following an all member vote. WEA Ambassador, Paul Simpson, was the other candidate in the election.

    Lynne will take over the presidency after Colin Barnes completes his final term as President at WEA Conference 16.

    The post of Deputy President was not contested. Standing Orders Committee has therefore confirmed that Lindsay Pearson is duly elected to the post of Deputy President.

    Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive and General Secretary commented: "I am sure that members, staff, volunteers and supporters of the WEA will join with me in congratulating Lynne Smith on her election as President of the WEA.

    "Everyone who knows Lynne will also know what a staunch advocate she is for the WEA and for lifelong learning. We are all looking forward to her presidency.

    "I would like to also thank Paul Simpson for participating in the election and giving our members a chance to vote.  I was delighted to see so many members engaged and enthused by the election process.

    "At Conference, I also look forward to having the opportunity to thank Colin Barnes for his dedication to the WEA over his past two terms as President. His legacy will be a stronger WEA that is delivering more for our students, and I look forward to celebrating his contribution to the Association in March."


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-elects-new-President.aspx Thu, 18 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[New partnership with Wessex Archaeology]]>

    Wessex Archaeology and the Workers’ Educational Association have forged a new partnership to promote and deliver educational outreach with heritage at its heart.

    Wessex Archaeology Chief Executive Chris Brayne and Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, will be signing a memorandum of understanding at the Omega Centre in Portsmouth today.

    Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Frank Jonas is attending to speak about the Mary Rose and WEA students will be there to help show that heritage themes can support the teaching of Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and literacy.

    Chris Brayne says: “The WEA and Wessex Archaeology share a belief that knowledge has the power to change lives and that the right to access education goes beyond traditional education.

    “We see this partnership as a means to magnify the impact of the activities of both organisations and to reach new audiences in new ways.”

    Ruth Spellman says: “The partnership with Wessex Archaeology is very valuable to our students. It encourages intellectual curiosity and lifelong opportunities to learn which we are passionate about in the WEA. I look forward to seeing the impact on individuals and their communities.”

    Please see below for media coverage on the partnership:




    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/New-partnership-with-Wessex-Archaeology.aspx Mon, 08 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Adult education and lifelong learning debated in the House of Lords]]>

    Photo: Baroness Sharp

    Yesterday, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Sharp led a debate in the House of Lords on the role of adult education and lifelong learning in strengthening the UK economy.  Demographic change in Britain and rapid technological advancement were cited as the two of the key challenges which our workplaces must adapt to.

    Baroness Sharp said: “Of our current workforce of some 31 million, 12 million are due to retire within the next 10 years, and only 7 million are coming through our education system… with technology moving so fast, many in the current workforce will find their jobs radically altered and, to remain productive, will need to reskill and retrain, possibly several times during their lifetime.”

    Speaking at the debate, Lord Watson of Invergowrie, noted the results of the WEA’s latest impact report which assessed the effect of our provision against our four curriculum themes.  “For more than a century the WEA has opened doors for millions of people… Four months ago the organisation published the results of a survey of their students. It was entitled Changing Lives and revealed the extent to which adult learning impacts on so many areas of an individual’s life. That survey found that more than half of those aged under 60 gave improving communication skills as a specific skill developed on a WEA course.

    “Tellingly, four months after completing the course, almost one in four reported having found employment. In addition to the impact on students’ civic engagement, a quarter reported a significant impact on their role as parents, with a quarter stating that they felt more confident about helping their children with reading, writing and maths. Thus the benefits of adult education to the next generation will begin to take root.”

    Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, Lord Shipley and Baroness Garden of Frognal all referenced the charity and its role in ensuring that everyone has a chance to return to education.

    The WEA is pleased to see this issue raised in parliament, and through the work of the APPG, will continue to champion the importance of lifelong learning to individuals, communities and wider society.

    For a full transcript of the debate, please go to:


    The debate starts at 3.01pm

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Adult-education-and-lifelong-learning-debated-in-the-House-of-Lords.aspx Fri, 29 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[UKCES publishes skills report]]> The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has published its 2015 Employer Skills Survey which reports that, despite a surge in job openings, the number of positions left vacant because employers cannot find people with the skills or knowledge to fill them has risen by 130% since 2011.

    The report says that "the economy cannot rely on initial education alone to ensure people have the continuously changing skills that are needed" - highlighting the need for lifelong learning opportunities as around 90 per cent of the current labour force have the potential to be active in the labour market a decade from now.

    Lesley Giles, deputy director at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills said:

    "With global competition intensifying, the UK urgently needs to boost its productivity. To do that, we need people with the right skills. But that’s only half the story. Creating good jobs that produce high-quality, bespoke goods and services is just as important. The Employer Skills Survey provides a wealth of data to enable businesses, training providers and policy makers to make informed decisions about what needs to be done to boost jobs, productivity and prosperity throughout the UK."

    Douglas McCormick, Chief Executive of the Sweett Group and a Commissioner at UKCES added:

    "The UK has witnessed exceptionally strong job creation in the past few years, creating jobs at a faster rate than any other EU country. However, this growth has been accompanied by stalling productivity levels. Evidence from the Employer Skills Survey suggests that developing the skills of the existing workforce to taking advantage of new technology and digitisation will be critical if the UK is to finally close the productivity gap."

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/UKCES-publishes-skills-report.aspx Thu, 28 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA responds to ESOL policy announcement]]> The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) welcomes  the Government’s pledge to provide greater investment in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) provision but believes the newly announced funding of £20million for community learning does not fully make up for the recent cuts to this area. Since 2010, we have witnessed a drastic reduction in the ESOL budget of almost 50 per cent. In order to help people fully integrate into their communities and boost active citizenship, we believe more should be done to encourage and facilitate English language learning for those who need it.

    In our experience, ESOL students are hardworking and diligent, committed to contributing to their communities and wider society. By creating a more cohesive ESOL strategy, the Government could help thousands of people across the country unlock their potential and contribute to the economy. An effective ESOL programme has the potential to promote community cohesion, fair access to services, social mobility and can enable students to access the labour market.  The WEA believes that there should be funding available to support all those who are unemployed or on low pay that want and need ESOL classes.  

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-responds-to-ESOL-policy-announcement.aspx Thu, 28 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Election for WEA President 16]]> This year, WEA members are able to vote in the election of WEA Association Officers. The WEA has four Association officers, each of whom sits on the WEA Trustee body. The four officers are President, two Deputy Presidents and Treasurer.

    There are two vacancies this year. Office holders take up post from the end of Association Conference.

    This year’s vacancies are:

    • President (four year term)
    • Deputy President (four year term)

    The current post-holders until WEA Conference are:
    President: Colin Barnes
    Deputy President: Lynne Smith

    Nominations for the above posts were invited earlier this year. In total three nominations were received. All nominations were in order and received before the closing date 1 October 2015.

    Nominations received
    The nominations received, in alphabetical order by name are as follows:

    • Lindsay Pearson Deputy President
    • Paul Simpson  President
    • Lynne Smith President

    Appointment to the post of Deputy President
    The post of Deputy President was not contested. Standing Orders Committee therefore confirms that Lindsay Pearson is duly elected to the post of Deputy President. Formal announcements are to be made at Conference or in Conference documentation.

    Election for the post of President
    Since two nominations have been received for the post of President, a ballot among WEA members will now decide which candidate will be elected to the post.

    Electoral Reform Services is administering the election of Preident on behalf of the WEA. Before voting you should read the supporting statements from the cadidates and the role description for the post of President below.

    Download supporting statements for WEA President

    Download role description for WEA President

    If you were a registered member by 12 September 2015, you will be able to vote in the election. You will have either recieved an email from Electoral Reform Services or a ballot paper by post providing security details for the election.

    Should you believe that you were a member by 12 September and have not recieved a ballot paper by Friday 22 January, please contact Sebastian Hanley at shanley@wea.org.uk and we will resend your ballot.

    The closing date for the election is 5pm on Monday 15 February 2016. You will not be able to vote after this time.

    Election results

    Elections of WEA Association Officers are supervised by the Standing Orders Committee appointed at the previous Association Conference. The results of the election of President will be announced at WEA Conference on Saturday 12 March 2016 and on the WEA website at www.wea.org.uk.

    In order to be able to vote, members are required to have joined the WEA in England and Scotland on or before 12 September 2015. Further information about the regulations of governance of the WEA can be found in our Governing Document. This is available on our website at www.wea.org.uk/governance.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Election-for-WEA-President-16.aspx Tue, 19 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Teach for WEA London Region]]>

    WEA London Region is looking for experienced, knowledgeable, flexible and creative adult educators for inclusion on our Tutor Panel. We particularly need tutors who can teach Functional Skills Numeracy/Maths, but there are also potential openings across London within the following subject areas:

    • Art Appreciation (Art History)
    • Community Interpreting
    • Creative Writing (Poetry)
    • Functional Skills English
    • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
    • Photography (Digital)
    • History (Modern History)
    • Literature
    • Music Making & Music Appreciation
    • Parenting, Family & Child Development (Helping in Schools)
    • Personal Development (Mindfulness and Meditation)
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Singing
    • Using Computers, Mobile Devices, Software & Social Media (Digital Media & Publishing)

    You should ideally have experience of working with educationally or socio-economically disadvantaged adults across a range of community settings. Applicants should hold a First Degree or equivalent in their subject(s) or have significant, demonstrable professional knowledge and skills. Applicants should also hold a Level 4 teaching qualification (minimum) or be willing to work towards this. Whilst we can’t guarantee tutors work, inclusion on our Tutor Panel ensures that you will be considered when suitable courses arise.

    To apply, please download and complete the application form on the WEA website here, and return it to the London Region Tutor Support Team at TSTeam@wea.org.uk by 12pm on Friday 12th February 2016.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Teach-for-WEA-London-Region.aspx Tue, 12 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA launches its Impact Report 2015]]>  

    Hundreds of students from across the Association were surveyed for the ‘WEA Impact Report 2015’ which looks at progress made against the charity’s four core areas: employability; health and wellbeing; community engagement and cultural education.

    The report demonstrates that adult learning has an enormous impact on individuals and communities. Our work transforms outcomes for people in deprived communities; it reduces social exclusion, increases social mobility and enables families to break the cycle of deprivation.

    Key findings from the report suggest WEA courses:

     develop important employment-related skills and life skills that help improve students’ wellbeing at and outside work;

     improve students’ engagement with their communities and foster a community spirit;

     improve the health and wellbeing of students and enable students to make better health decisions, particularly those with long term health conditions;

     encourage students to take up voluntary work as well as provide skills useful in voluntary work;
    encourage students to be more active citizens;

     develop students culturally and improve their cultural understanding;

     provide useful skills, confi dence and improve employment opportunities for both the employed and unemployed;

     positively impact parenting and improve familial relations;

     encourage students to take up taught courses and learn independently;

     have a substantially higher impact on students from ethnic minorities and students claiming means-tested benefits and;

     have cascading benefi ts beyond students and into families and communities.

    Download the report as a pdf here or read below.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-launches-its-Impact-Report-2015.aspx Thu, 03 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Spending Review Comment]]> Following the announcement of the government's spending review, Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the Workers’ Educational Association, commented: “Achieving the Prime Minister’s aim of economic security requires long-term investment in our education, training and skills. Without continuous opportunities to learn throughout our lives, the economic potential of many citizens will be lost and our productivity levels will continue to lag behind other competing countries.

    “The Chancellor has announced in the Spending Review that the government is protecting funding for the core adult skills participation budgets in cash terms. While this is welcome, we believe there needs to be more investment in adult learning alongside a rebalancing of our education and skills policies to reflect the fact that productivity improvements will be driven by those who are already in the labour market.

    “By 2020, one third of the workforce will be over 50 and in the next 10 years, of the 13.5 million jobs which will be created only seven million will be filled by young people. Keeping adult skills up to date will be an increasing challenge and a necessity. Unless we have accessible and affordable education and skills provision economic growth will stall, our productivity levels will continue to be below the G7 average, and five million adults will continue to struggle without basic literacy and numeracy skills.

    “As David Cameron himself has said, the idea that you go to school, go to college, get a degree and stop learning and start working; that's old thinking. From now on, everyone is going to be thinking about how to continuously increase skills through life.

    “But to support these aspirations and to build pathways back into learning requires action and investment in the education institutions that are best able to deliver high quality, flexible and affordable further and higher education.”


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Spending-Review-announcement.aspx Wed, 25 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA News 34]]> The Autumn edition of WEA News is now available, including stories on our Save Adult Education campaign, Conference 16, the new All Party Parliamentary Group for Adult Education and much more.

    Click here to download the current edition of WEA News (PDF).

    Alternatively, click here to view a copy online.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-News-34.aspx Mon, 16 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[2015 Molly Morgan Lecture]]>  

    On the 12th November 2015, the WEA’s annual Molly Morgan lecture took place in partnership with London Metropolitan University. 

    Molly Morgan was a WEA volunteer who was tragically murdered on her way to a WEA course in 2009. During her life, she gave so much of her time to the charity and had volunteered with us for over 25 years before her death at the age of 81. Molly was dedicated to the values and mission of the WEA and these annual lectures are our tribute to her memory. 

    WEA tutor Christos Efstathiou gave the lecture to an enthusiastic group of students and literature devotees based around his book ‘E.P Thompson – A Twentieth-Century Romantic’.  The book depicts Thompson as a community activist and the lecture explored the ways in which this could be applied to thinking around the modern working class.   

    The lecture was an excellent opportunity for the local community to find out more about British historian, writer and socialist, Edward Palmer Thompson and also find out more about the WEA’s work in the area,

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/2015-Molly-Morgan-Lecture.aspx Mon, 16 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA look to the Scottish Parliament for progressive leadership in adult education campaign ]]> As the WEA leads the campaign to save adult education across England, colleagues in WEA Scotland give their support and solidarity, whilst reflecting on some key differences in Scotland.

    Jayne Stuart, Director of WEA Scotland said: “At a time when adult education in England is under enormous threat, Scotland's devolved powers and co-produced strategies have led to adult education becoming a feature within the Scottish Governments Programme for Government 2015-16. This is a significant and positive step forward for adult education in Scotland.”

    With a shared ambition for fairness, equality, solidarity and democratic engagement, support for adult education in Scotland can be seen in:

    • The work of the National Forum for Adult Learning
    • The launch of the Statement of Ambition for Adult Learning in 2014
    • An implementation plan for the Statement of Ambition focusing in literacy and numeracy, family learning, adult achievement awards, workforce development and learner voice.
    • The creation of the new Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund to support infrastructure and core services within national third sector organisations.
    • The recent passing of the Community Empowerment Act, and previously the Community Learning and Development Regulations and Guidance.

    Ms Stuart continued: “Adult education is valued across all political parties in Scotland. The formation of a Scottish Parliament Cross Party Working Group on Adult Learning has backed this up - testament to the shared belief that adult learning benefits people and communities throughout Scotland.

    “There is strong support for adult education in Scotland, and clarity amongst leaders of the impact learning can have on individuals, families, communities and workplaces. An effective vehicle for economic and social justice, a strong adult learning sector is key to the future of Scotland.

    “The simple fact is - adult education benefits us all. Of course the impact of the spending review will be felt everywhere across the UK, and we await the outcome with some trepidation. With further devolved powers in Scotland however, we can hopefully be more optimistic that the adult learning pathway is more clearly and positively set out.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Scotland-comment-on-education.aspx Wed, 04 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Save Adult Education campaign goes to Downing Street]]>

    Photograph is courtesy of Pat Pope. From left: James Drummond and Joanna Cain from the WEA, Chi Onwurah MP, Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, tutor Mona Nashed and student Lisa Birch.

    An award winning adult education student and a fashion tutor from Tower Hamlets joined shadow minister and Newcastle MP, Chi Onwurah, to deliver a petition of over 10,000 names to 10 Downing Street as part of a campaign to save adult education.

    Lisa Birch, a stay-at-home mother since 16 who was able to return to education in her mid-thirties, and Mona Nashed, who helps students from one of London’s most deprived areas develop their maths skills through working with textiles, presented the petition to the Prime Minister ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review in November.

    The Save Adult Education campaign was launched earlier this month by the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), the UK’s largest voluntary provider of adult education. Chief Executive of the WEA, Ruth Spellman and WEA Director of Education Joanna Cain, joined the group to highlight the importance of adult education to communities throughout England. Alongside the petition, hundreds of WEA students who have benefited from adult education have been writing to their MPs to protest against potential cuts in the Spending Review.

    Adult education, which is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, represents only six per cent of the department’s spending devoted to education and training. This year alone, the Adult Skills Budget has already had cuts of 24 per cent and 3.9 per cent, and many students are concerned that further cuts will have a devastating impact on a service which provides skills, confidence and support to disadvantaged communities across the country.

    With the government expecting that 13.5 million jobs will be created over the next 10 years but only 7 million young people coming into the workforce, there is a concern the loss of adult education services will mean that older workers will not be able to update their skills while employers will face a shortage of workers.

    Chi Onwurah MP said: ““I know myself how learning can change people’s lives dramatically by fostering a more positive outlook, boosting self-esteem and improving employability prospects. Adult education is important because it helps individuals and their families break cycles of deprivation and forge better lives themselves. For many people living in low-income communities, adult education is a lifeline which helps them get the skills they need to get on in life.” 

    Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA said: “Adult education plays a key role in helping people gain the skills, confidence and self-belief needed for work and helps older people keep their minds and bodies active throughout life. Thousands of people have joined the WEA in saying this is a vital service for our economy and our society.

    “Many of our students missed out on a good education at school, but still have aspirations for themselves and their families. Everyone deserves a second chance to get back into learning and it is essential for our economy and society that we continue to provide high quality education for adults. We hope the Chancellor will listen to the voices of our students and recognise in the Spending Review how valuable education is to older people.”

    The petition was run on the 38 Degrees website at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-adult-education

    Click here to view coverage of the petition in FE Week.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Save-Adult-Education-campaign-goes-to-Downing-Street.aspx Fri, 30 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The decline in part-time education]]> On Thursday, 29 October 2015, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) published It’s the finance, stupid! The decline of part-time higher education and what to do about it.

    This collection of essays explains the catastrophic fall in part-time student numbers, which is harming the economy and limiting people’s ability to transform their lives, and proposes a range of options for tackling the problem.

    The contributors come from a wide range of organisations, including: Birkbeck / UCL Institute of Education; London Economics; the National Union of Students; NIACE, The Open University; the Workers’ Educational Association; and the universities of Cambridge, Northampton and Wolverhampton.

    Ruth Spellman, WEA Chief Executive and General Secretary, is one of the contributors.

    The authors attribute the decline in part-time students, among other things, to:

    • the sharp increase in tuition fees;
    • inflexible course design; and
    • a lack of good quality information, advice and guidance.

    Among the solutions proposed are:

    • cost-effective changes to the funding rules, such as providing support for second-chance students and providing funding for students taking a module or two rather than a full course;
    • engaging employers in course delivery; and
    • giving Local Enterprise Partnerships a more formal role.

    In his foreword to the publication, Nick Hillman, the Director of HEPI, writes:

    “The collapse in part-time study is arguably the single biggest problem facing higher education at the moment. There are other challenges too, such as the future of the research environment, how to assess the quality of teaching and dealing with the effects of marketisation. But it is the fall in part-time learning that is probably the biggest black spot.

    “The fall in part-time student numbers is clearly partly – possibly mainly – associated with the changes to student finance, hence the title of this collection. Part-time numbers have fallen more in England than other parts of the UK with lower (or no) fees, but it is not the sole cause. The decline began before the £9,000 fees were introduced. Any solution is likely to rest upon innovative delivery methods and other ways of improving access as much as relying on tweaks to the entitlement for financial support.

    “If we succeed in reversing the decline in part-time study, the benefits to employers in terms of improved productivity and to the economy in terms of faster growth will be substantial. But the benefits to individuals and their families will be even more transformative.

    “Lifelong learning is a concept that no one opposes, but it does not happen on its own and it needs to be supported.”

    Peter Horrocks, the Vice-Chancellor of The Open University and the author of the opening chapter, said:

    “For too long the focus of higher education policy has been on the traditional university route of school leavers heading into full time study.

    “As this collection shows, part-time higher education has a key role to play in boosting productivity, contributing to economic growth and driving social mobility.

    “Alongside our calls for the reversal of the policy to refuse loans for most second degrees, this paper is full of proposals which, if taken seriously, would help the Government deliver on its promise to support the most aspirational people in our society.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-decline-in-part-time-education.aspx Thu, 29 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Oxford University and the WEA reveal singing's secret power]]> We have long known the power of a good sing-along. Now, research from the University of Oxford has shown that singing is a great ice-breaker and can get groups of people to bond together faster.

    A study, published in the Royal Society’s Open Science journal, looked at how a series of adult education classes grew closer over seven months. The conclusion – singing groups bonded quicker than those taking part in other classes.

    Dr Eiluned Pearce, from Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology led the research. She said: “One of the key differences between humans and other primates is that we can exist in much larger social groups. Singing is found in all human societies and can be performed to some extent by the vast majority of people. So singing has long been believed to be one of the ways in which we build emotional bonds when establishing one-to-one connections between everyone in the group is impractical.”

    To test the theory, the researchers worked with charity the Workers' Educational Association (WEA), the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education. The WEA set up seven courses, four in singing, two in crafts and one in creative writing. Each course, made up of two-hour sessions, was run over seven months with a two-week break in the middle.

    Those attending the classes were given surveys before and after individual sessions in the first month, just before the break and at the end of the seven month course. In it, they were asked to rate how close they felt to the other members of the class.

    Dr Pearce said: “We had expected the singing classes to feel closer to each other than the other classes at the end of the seven months. However, we found something different.

    “For every class, people felt closer to each other at the end of each two-hour session than they did at the start. At the end of the seven months, all the classes were reporting similar levels of closeness.

    “But in the first month, people in the singing classes were much closer to each other than those in the other classes. Singing broke the ice better than the other activities, getting the group together faster.”

    Howard Croft, WEA Project Manager, said: “Feeling connected to those around you, be it friends or family, is one of the key ways to improve your wellbeing.

    “Adult education of every kind can help improve mental health and boost self-esteem, but singing together is a uniquely communal experience that can foster better relations between people from all walks of life.”







    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Oxford-University-and-the-WEA-reveal-singings-secret-power.aspx Wed, 28 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Peter Quigley]]> We are sad to announce the recent death of Peter Quigley, who played an active role in the WEA for many years.

    Scottish Convenor, Marc Sherland, writes:

    I learned Peter Quigley had passed away on the evening of Tuesday 13th October in hospital following an operation, whilst I was attending a WEA Regional Heads Meeting in London. The President Colin Barnes led us all in a few moments of silent contemplation.
    Peter was a long standing colleague on the Scottish Committee being elected as the interim Vice Convenor in 2012 and until recently, serving on both the Administration, Finance and General Purposes and Education Sub-Committees.

    He had been Convenor of the Fife Local Association for well over 20 years. 

    Peter had also represented WEA Scotland nationally on the WEA Council and more recently on the Standing Orders Committee.

    On the wider stage of life, Peter was a former English teacher, and Union Representative and this often meant that he was called on to represent members in disciplinary procedures. Indeed he represented my Cousin, Bill Bald and successfully defended him in a case of wrongful dismissal. Peter was elected as EIS Vice-President for 2005/2006, and was again the members’ choice, as he took on the role of EIS National President for 2006/2007.

    Knowing of my literary aspirations, Peter had chatted to me a couple of times about writing a book himself, though, ever cautious, he never revealed the plot. It is for this and the many other unrealised potentials that we always regret the passing of a life, the achievements stand as testament, the intentions and possibilities as feasible conjecture.

    A forthright individual, Peter always challenged what he did not agree, but with a good heart and there are few who would not say that he sought to improve the WEA and its place in the world. He will be missed.

    WEA Scotland would wish to extend to Peter’s family and friends our sincere condolences. Their loss is very much ours. I would also like to record our thanks for Peter’s many years of service to the Workers’ Educational Association.

    Peter’s funeral will take place on Tuesday 27th October 2015 at 11.45 am at Kirkcaldy Crematorium, Rosemount Avenue, Kirkcaldy, KY2 6HQ.

    Please consider for a few moments Peter Quigley’s contribution to our lives and the life and success of the WEA.

    Marc R Sherland - Scottish Convenor

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Peter-Quigley.aspx Mon, 26 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Labour MP Holly Lynch voices support for adult ed]]>

    L to R: Holly Lynch MP, John Ross, Nicky Reed, Lauren Iredale, Adam Roe

    Labour MP Holly Lynch has voiced support for the WEA's Save Adult Education campaign after meeting with our students and tutors last week. Holly's visit to The Artworks, an independent art school who we are working in partnership with, was an opportunity to meet local residents who have benefitted from community learning.

    The Halifax MP, part of the 2015 intake, was invited to a screening of a campaign video produced by learners which captures the many reasons why adult education should be protected and supported.

    Commenting on the campaign, Holly said: "Adult education is essential in ensuring that people have the skills and the confidence to make the most of the opportunities available to them, either in employment or in life.

    "This government's cuts are potentially devastating for the country and for Halifax. I will be fighting to win back those opportunities that education brings."


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Labour-MP-Holly-Lynch-voices-support-for-adult-ed.aspx Mon, 26 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA tutor featured in this month’s Prima magazine]]> New WEA tutor Tracey Kettridge is interviewed in this month’s Prima magazine in a feature on inspirational women. Tracey is a former beautician who, five years ago, decided to change career and study counselling and hypnotherapy after years of being a shoulder to cry on for family, friends and clients. It was a difficult feat considering that she had four children (her youngest at the time was one years old) and it meant leaving behind the security of a profession which she was thriving in. While Tracey felt a little daunted by the prospect of studying, she wanted to be a role-model for her children and do something to make herself feel proud.  Since qualifying to Diploma level in counselling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, Tracy has gone on to work for a women’s refuge.

    In September, Tracey fulfilled another of her ambitions – to become a tutor with the WEA. She will be empowering those with low self-esteem to recognise their worth and talents by teaching a confidence course with us.

    Tracey says: “I love what I do and take such pride in being able to help people. Taking a change of direction in life can seem overwhelming but I’m so pleased I did as I now have the career I’ve always dreamed of. I hope other women will take confidence from my story and decide to go on their own journeys.”

    Welcome to the WEA Tracey – we’re so pleased to have you on board!

    Click here to see the full article in Prima

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/primafeature.aspx Fri, 09 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Education sector unites to celebrate the value of ‘invisible’ part-time students]]> Organisations from the education, business and employment sectors have joined forces to shine a spotlight on the hundreds of thousands of students studying part-time around the UK.

    The new We #LovePartTime education campaign aims to increase public visibility of the number of people who have studied part-time and the many benefits it brings to our society. The campaign aims to:

    • engage part-time students (past and present) to identify themselves as part-time students and express the benefits they have derived as a result,
    • encourage advocates of the campaign to publicly support it.

    The campaign is being supported by:

    • The two largest providers of part-time higher education: The Open University and Birkbeck, University of London.
    • Unionlearn – the learning and skills organisation of the TUC who last year who have helped over 220,000 people access training and development.
    • Workers' Educational Association (WEA) – the UK's largest voluntary sector provider of adult education.
    • Universities UK, the representative organisation for the UK’s universities; GuildHE, a membership body of heads in higher educational institutions; University Alliance, which represents 18 universities, and the University think tank, Million +, which works directly with 18 universities in England and Scotland.
    • National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) – the national voice for lifelong learning.
    • National Union of Students (NUS), which represents the voices on 7 million students including part-time and mature students.
    • CBI, whose 190,000 members employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of the private sector-employed workforce.

    With more than two million students currently settling into new university courses, a fifth of these will be studying part-time whilst juggling work and family responsibilities.

    These part-time students are largely 'invisible' – they may not identify themselves as being a student, and are often overlooked in media and government reports in favour of reporting on the participation of younger, full-time students. The sector is calling for greater recognition of the value of part-time education and is asking students, past and present, to share why they love part time study.

    Click here to find out how you can support the campaign.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Education-sector-unites-to-celebrate-the-value-of-invisible-part-time-students-.aspx Fri, 02 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Adult Education Under Threat – Act Now!]]> The Government is currently preparing its Spending Review for the next 5 years and will announce its plans on November 25. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, which funds the WEA and other adult learning institutions like ourselves in England, has been asked by the Chancellor to suggest cuts of 25% and 40%.

    Less than 6 per cent of Government spending on education and training is devoted to adult further education and skills. Further cuts, on top of the 24 per cent and 3.9 per cent cuts to the Adult Skills Budget already announced this year, will have a devastating impact on a service that is life-changing for many people.

    Putting this in context, over the next 10 years there will be 13.5 million more jobs but only 7 million young people coming into the workforce. At the same time employer investment in skills and training has declined by 2.5bn since 2011.  Apprenticeships alone will not fill the gaps.  In addition, the research shows that adult education improves health and wellbeing, develops confidence and builds better communities.

    Over the next few weeks we are hoping to reach thousands of students, members and supporters of the WEA as well as a vast range of partners and friends who share our concerns. Our aim is to raise awareness, make the case for adult education and to give adult learners a voice.

    We need you – the WEA’s greatest advocates – to help. Individual letters or emails to your local MP and the Chancellor will make a difference and make sure that adults are not forgotten when cuts are being made. Thank you for your support. 

    How you can help:

    1. Write to your local MP – the sooner the better

    2. Spread the word on social media

    • Use #saveadulteducation on twitter and tell the world about the impact adult education has had on your life, family and community
    • Join our Facebook Campaign at https://www.facebook.com/saveadulted

    3. Sign our campaign petition at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/sae


    Suggested text for email or letter to your MP

    Dear [Enter the name of your MP]

    The Government is currently considering its plans for spending over this parliament.

    I am deeply concerned that the cuts suggested for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will have a serious impact on the sustainability of adult education across England.

    Less than 6 per cent of Government spending on education and training is devoted to adult further education and skills. Further cuts, on top of the 24 per cent and 3.9 per cent cuts to the Adult Skills Budget already announced this year, will have a devastating impact on a service that is life-changing for many people and communities across the country.

    As a supporter of the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), I have experienced the impact adult education can make.

    Please add in a personal statement of what the WEA means to you whether as a student volunteer or tutor. This might include examples that a course has:
    • helped you keep active;
    • broadened your horizons
    • Led to employment or volunteering opportunities
    • Given you self-confidence and raised your aspirations

    The WEA has been educating adults for over 100 years. Millions of people have benefited from adult education. Please help us maintain this vital service for generations to come by highlighting the importance of adult education to the Chancellor and BIS over the coming months.

    Yours sincerely,

    [Your name]


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Adult-Education-Under-Threat--Act-Now.aspx Tue, 22 Sep 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[New Parliamentary Group for Adult Education to be launched]]>

    WEA Chief Executive Ruth Spellman and Scottish Widows CEO, Toby Strauss meeting Newcastle MP, Chi Onwurah

    The Specialist Designated Institutions (SDIs) - City Lit, Fircroft College, Hillcroft College, the Mary Ward Centre, Morley College, Northern College, Ruskin College, the Working Men’s College and the Workers’ Educational Association - and Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central will launch a new parliamentary group for adult education next week in Newcastle.

    The group has been formed to raise the profile of adult education, and in particular, the vital role it plays in providing high-quality educational provision to the most disadvantaged members of society. The group will aim to start a wider debate about the future of adult education in this country.

    Ahead of the launch, Chi said:

    “I’m delighted to be launching, and chairing, this new all-party parliamentary group for adult education. Learning can change people’s lives and improve not just their skills and job prospects but also their confidence and health.

    “We need more opportunities and support for adults to learn throughout their lives, whatever their circumstances. Our world is constantly changing and learning helps many people to make the positive changes they need – whether it’s finding a better job or broadening cultural horizons.

    “I am looking forward to working with other MPs, Lords and educational groups like the WEA – who do so much good – in exploring how we can make this happen for more people.”

    The group will be established as an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) shortly after the launch. APPGs have members from all the main political parties in Parliament and the Adult Education APPG will be supported by the WEA and other specialist adult education institutions.

    The launch event will be at 11am on Friday 18 September at Westgate Community College in Newcastle. Details of the event are available at http://chionwurahmp.com/2015/08/dr-miriam-stoppard-is-coming-to-newcastle/

    All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Terms of Reference

    Purpose/Role of the Group
    • To investigate the impact of adult education on the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of the UK.
    • To champion the work of the SDIs
    • To raise awareness and engagement on the challenges and opportunities in Adult Education
    • To share research on the impact of Adult Education on our economy and society
    • To highlight the causes and consequences of educational disadvantage
    • To develop appropriate policy recommendations and identify practical steps to increase the impact of adult education
    • To engage a wide cross section of educators, employers, business groups, local authorities, political representatives and other relevant organisations on issues relating to adult education and its impacts

    The APPG for adult education was developed by the nine Specialist Designated Institutions (SDIs): City Lit, Fircroft College, Hillcroft College, the Mary Ward Centre, Morley College, Northern College, Ruskin College, the Working Men’s College and the Workers’ Educational Association.

    Created as part of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, the SDIs offer a vast range of adult education courses for over 130,000 students across Britain each year, providing educational opportunities for every community in the country.

    The group has been formed to raise the profile of adult education, and in particular, the vital role it plays in providing high-quality educational provision to the most disadvantaged members of society. Our aim is to engage key stakeholders, organisations within the FE sector, parliamentarians and other major influencers in a debate about the future of adult education.

    Membership will consist of a group of MPs and Lords from all sides of the house and the secretariat will be provided by the SDIs.

    Working Methods
    The APPG will adopt a shared learning approach which will deliver three reports and one research paper led by the WEA research department over the course of the parliament, detailing key issues and recommendations for adult education and their impacts on society.

    The group will host up to three events per year. It is proposed that the group agree a subject for investigation, followed by a call for evidence, with at least one oral evidence session held each year to engage students, parliamentarians and other stakeholders in the discussion. Alongside students, speakers at these events might include other providers of adult education such as The Open University, non-SDI colleges, LEPs, employers, local authorities as well as ministers and opposition spokespeople.
    A report would then be developed in consultation with the group for launch at the annual AGM.

    The APPG will aim to launch in November 2015 with subsequent events in February and May and will hold these months moving forward as key target dates.

    Sharing Information
    WEA will facilitate the development of a web space for members which will include a secure password to share resources
    Through this members will be able to share information and resources and the provision to circulate documents and aid in the organisation and support of meetings and events
    The SDIs will provide joint secretariat services.

    The group will aim to review the relevance and value of its work and the terms of reference annually. This will ensure it is supporting its stakeholders and addressing the key areas of adult education in the most effective manner


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/New-Parliamentary-Group-for-Adult-Education.aspx Tue, 15 Sep 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA students head to Parliament]]>

    WEA Yorkshire and Humber students

    As part of the WEA’s ‘Europe, Democracy and Citizenship in the 21st Century’ programme, students are heading to Brussels to find out direct from those at the heart of European politics how citizens can influence change.

    Today marks the first day of the trip, which will see students discuss their views with parliamentarians, activists and union members. They will also have the opportunity to visit the key historic landmarks associated with European democracy.

    An exciting itinerary has been scheduled, with speakers from the European Economic and Social Committee and SOLIDAR (a European network of NGOs working to advance social justice on an international scale) discussing diverse topics from the future of the EU to workers’ rights.

    Students from the Yorkshire and Humber-based project will be greeted by a more familiar face during their visit to the European Parliament – regional MEP Linda McAvan – who will give them an overview of voting procedures during this week’s mini-plenary session.

    Speaking on the importance of the programme, Linda says: “Active citizenship is the gateway to transforming widespread participation in politics.  Active citizens are stake holders in democracy whether it’s getting involved at a local community level, or participation in a national or EU campaign. It is important that people of all ages feel that politics belongs to them.  Participation through active citizenship in politics matters and creates a necessary sense of engagement with political and civic issues.

    “Education directly forms a part of a part of active citizenship. That is why projects like the WEA’s Europe, Democracy and Citizenship in the 21st century are crucial. It allows participants the chance to develop skills in critical thinking and analysis which brings immense value and prepares them for active citizenship.”

    The WEA project, headed by Jol Miskin, WEA Regional Education Manager, was established earlier this year to help local people feel empowered to participate in and engage with European politics.

    For the latest news and updates, follow us on twitter @weaadulted #weabrussels

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-students-head-to-Parliament.aspx Tue, 15 Sep 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The WEA's budding writers]]> A group of WEA workplace learners from Falkirk have taken part in the Scottish Book Trust’s annual writing competition. The competition is part of a national campaign to get Scotland writing. This year, all entrants were asked to write about a significant journey that they have experienced in their lives.

    The stories submitted by WEA students Debbie Callaghan, Margaret Callaghan and Carol Brown are available to read on the Scottish Book Trust website and are entitled: ‘Water Baby’, ‘Final Journey’ and ‘Standing by the Window’.

    Selected stories from competition entrants will be published in a book that will be distributed for free during Book Week Scotland 2015

    The authors’ learning journey began when they expressed an interest in building their confidence and communication skills in response to a WEA article in a local council publication.

    Arrangements were made for the class to run in Denny Community Centre, following approval from Falkirk Council. Students made significant progress in achieving their goals and overcame barriers such as dyslexia to achieve SQA qualifications in Communication and Working with Others.  For some learners these were their first recognised qualifications.

    As is often the case, once engaged, participants developed a passion for learning and wanted to continue to write in their own voice. This demonstrates that workplace education is a valuable route into learning and removes barriers to participation. The group has continued to produce exciting prose and poetry and have plans to publish an anthology of their work in the autumn.

    The WEA has a proud tradition of supporting learners to tell their stories and we are delighted that our learner’s writing has an outlet on the Scottish Book Trust website.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-WEAs-budding-writers.aspx Thu, 03 Sep 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Do you want to be the President?]]>


    Countdown to WEA Conference 16

    Preparations for the WEA biennial conference, which will be held on 11th and 12th March 2016 in Sheffield are now underway. This year the theme of the conference is sustainability, with an event on the Friday of national significance with a great line up of speakers and workshops along with the Association Dinner. On Saturday, the formal business of the conference will take place with debates on some of the key issues affecting the WEA and adult education.

    For more information, download the introductory letter from General Secretary Ruth Spellman.

    Do you want to be President or Deputy President of the WEA?

    All WEA members (there are now around 10,000) can vote, nominate and stand in this year’s elections for two WEA Association Officer positions. Should it be necessary a postal and online ballot will be held and this will take place during January 2016.

    A nomination form including further details of the Officer roles and eligibility and rules is available here.

    WEA Conference Motions

    The WEA Conference provides the chance for WEA branches and regions (including their Scottish equivalents), WEA Council, plus affiliated organisations and other enfranchised bodies, the chance to debate and vote on motions.

    Conference motion forms can be downloaded here.

    Before submitting a motion, please read the conference guidance for motions available here.

    Changes are also being proposed on how motions are considered for conference. To find out more about the regulation changes, please click here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Do-you-want-to-be-President.aspx Mon, 24 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA response to the Mid-Life Career Review report]]> In response to the Mid-Life Career Review report, Ruth Spellman, Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) CEO, says: “The WEA welcomes the findings of this report which calls for greater training and development opportunities for older workers. Responding to demographic change is one of the key challenges of modern society. We are living longer and those entering the labour market today can expect a longer working life than previous generations. It is clear that we need to rethink the way that we approach workplace learning for those aged 50 and over. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicts that there will be 13.5 million job vacancies over the next decade but only 7 million school leavers. Investment in training later in life is part of the solution to retaining older workers, boosting productivity and closing our ever widening skills gaps.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-response-to-the-Mid-Life-Career-Review-report.aspx Fri, 21 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Mental health project wins funding]]> WEA West Midlands has been awarded £117,431 from the Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities programme for its Aspire project based in Wyre Forest, Worcestershire. The focus of the three year project is to engage adults within the area to improve their mental health, reduce isolation and loneliness, and provide them with an opportunity to improve their health and wellbeing by attending a variety of adult and community learning activities.

    Howard Croft, WEA Projects Development Manager, said: “The Aspire partnership project will improve social integration by offering access to free community based learning opportunities to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing. In turn, this will help reduce feelings of isolation and improve employment prospects, thereby building stronger communities. We are very grateful for grant funding from the Big Lottery Fund as this work could not take place without it.

    "We are looking to work with partners within the Wyre Forest area including Kidderminster, Stourport and Bewdley to deliver this project. We would be interested in hearing from potential partners who would be willing to host activities and/or assist with engaging/recruiting beneficiaries, peer support, referrals and advising beneficiaries on progression routes and/or signposting."

    Project activities will be delivered locally, aimed at adults wishing to improve their wellbeing and resilience and will include a range of courses, visits, tasters and workshops. The project will start in August 2015 and will run until July 2018.

    If you would like more information about the project or are an organisation interested in being involved please contact: Katherine Brown, WEA Project Coordinator, on 07825 934 106 or alternatively email: KBrown@wea.org.uk


    This project is supported by the Big Lottery Fund's Reaching Communities Programme

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Mental-health-project-wins-funding.aspx Tue, 18 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA volunteers direct Rotherham Branch towards success]]>

    An influx of enthusiastic volunteers has seen our Rotherham Branch emerge as a WEA success story over the last three years. A diligent and hardworking team, the Branch have delivered an excellent service in their local area and, after 276 student enrolments in 2011, this figure has increased by 87% during this period. Since having just four or five branch members a few short years ago, Rotherham have accumulated a brilliant group of motivated volunteers and, now boasting a team of fifteen, the Branch now have more members than ever before!

    Having worked with the Branch for 5 years, Course Programme Worker Maxine Turner has overseen its growth during this period and is delighted with the volunteers now on board: “With younger blood, enthusiastic and highly motivated new members, the work of the Branch has accelerated over the last three years, particularly in the last two. Our members come both from previous student and volunteer roles and therefore bring with them a great mix of different skills and knowledge”.

    Of Rotherham’s fifteen current members, seven of them made the journey from a student in a WEA classroom all the way up to being a branch member. With Dawn Rudd, Khatt Lambert and Linda Koncowoj now fulfilling their roles as Chair, Vice-Chair and Branch Secretary respectively, three of these former students now occupy key positions within the Branch. Also, the hard work and reliability of Barrie Dalby, a member of the branch for 15 years and long serving Treasurer, has provided a valuable sense of continuity alongside the injection of new personnel.   

    Among the Branch’s recent achievements is their successful hosting of Yorkshire & Humber region’s inaugural Summer Fayre this June. Dawn and Khatt in particular are worthy of special praise as they enthusiastically and proactively went about arranging the event and even manned a stall on the day! The event raised an excellent £500 towards our Mental Health Appeal! Dawn and Khatt, whom Maxine calls “fabulous and encouraging”, subsequently received a recognition certificate from Adult Learner’s Week in celebration of their wonderful work. (see picture).

    Maxine continues: “It is a privilege and honour to work alongside the Rotherham Branch members, who, more often than not, blow me away with their enthusiasm and pro-activism but also with their wicked sense of humour.  As all the members come from the local area, they understand the needs of the community and tell it like it is, as only Yorkshire folk can!  Long may they continue to engage with the people of Rotherham.”

    Well done to everybody at our Rotherham Branch – keep up the good work!

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Volunteers-Direct-Rotherham-Branch-Towards-Success.aspx Mon, 17 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Young people need better access to careers advice]]> In response to research from the Career Development Institute (CDI) on independent careers advice in schools, Ruth Spellman, Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) CEO, says: “The CDI’s findings, supported by new research from the Department for Education, indicate that one third of schools are not meeting their legal responsibility to provide pupils aged 12 – 18 with independent careers advice. This is disappointing news given that many young people and adults need access to high quality careers advice if they are to find a job which they can hold down and commit to.

    "The evidence from other countries is overwhelmingly convincing that careers advice makes a difference, particularly for those students who don't have access to other networks and who are disadvantaged. The WEA routinely gives information, advice and support to our students whether they are looking for further educational development or to move into employment. We know it makes a difference.”


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Young-people-need-better-access-to-careers-advice.aspx Thu, 13 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Thinking about learning something new?]]> Click on the image of the brochure you wish to download below.

    East Midlands - Chesterfield

    East Midlands - Derby & Derbyshire

    East Midlands - Leicester

    East Midlands - Lincolnshire & Rutland


    East Midlands - Northamptonshire & Northamptonshire

    East Midlands  - Nottingham



    Eastern - Bedfordshire

    Eastern - Cambridgshire


    Eastern - Day Schools

    Eastern - Essex


    Eastern - Hertfordshire

    Eastern - Norfolk


    Eastern - Suffolk




    North East




    North West



    South West


    Southern - Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire

    Southern - East and West Sussex

    Southern - Kent

    Southern - Surrey


    West Midlands - Herefordshire



    Yorkshire & Humber - Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield

    Yorkshire & Humber - Bradford, Calderdale, Kirkless, Leeds, Wakefield and The Five Towns

    Yorkshire & Humber - Doncaster, Grimsby, Scunthorpe and North & North East Lincolnshire

    Yorkshire & Humber - York, North Yorkshire, Hull & East Riding

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Thinking-about-learning-something-new.aspx Fri, 07 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Interested in healthcare support?]]> WEA partner, The Open University is part of a team of 10 partners who together form one of the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO), as part of a Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funded project.  The NNCO scheme aims to encourage more people into higher education through the development of networks offering them the right advice and support.

    As part of this, the OU-led NNCO team have been looking at developing a free online course for healthcare support workers. They would like this course to focus on an area of learning that is relevant to your role, which can give you a real opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and skills.

    It would be very helpful if you could please take a few minutes to complete a short survey for the OU. In particular, they would like to find out about how interested you would be in using online courses, any skills that you would like to develop, and any specific areas of healthcare that you would be most interested in learning about. The survey is entirely anonymous and any information you provide will be held securely in accordance with the Open University's data protection policy, which complies with the Data Protection Act (1988).

    Please follow the link below to complete the survey, which will be open until Friday 21st August:

    Link to NNCO Survey for Healthcare Support Workers

    In the meantime, if you have any queries about the survey or the development of the online course, please contact the project Evaluation Officer, Jenny Goff:

    • Email: jenny.goff@open.ac.uk
    • Tel: 01908 332629
    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Interested-in-healthcare-support.aspx Wed, 05 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Life of WEA tutor remembered]]> The life of potter and teacher, David Ballantyne, is being celebrated through a new website set up by his family.

    The site, at http://www.davidballantyne.net/, explores David's life and work.

    A former student said: "David was not just centred in the field of ceramics, but also in music, painting, architecture, with an amazing inventiveness all bound together with a wonderful sense of humour and principle which could turn the humble sounding 'pottery' into an art with the widest horizons."

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Life-of-WEA-tutor-remembered.aspx Mon, 03 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[ESF Community Grants Programme changes lives for those furthest from the job market]]> The ESF Community Grants (2014 – 2015) programme for the North West and Merseyside was managed by the WEA in partnership with VOLA, Locality, Community Matters and Network for Europe.

    Small social enterprise or not-for-profit organisations were invited to bid for grants, targeted at people with disabilities and health conditions, lone parents, people aged 50 and over, people from ethnic minorities, women, workless adults in under-developed areas and communities and individuals underrepresented in the labour market.

    The £4.5m programme engaged with over 7,000 people who were furthest from the job market, a quarter of whom gained accredited qualifications. An evaluation of the project showed 44% of beneficiaries reported that they had found employment or become self-employed; 29% were doing further learning, while 49% were doing voluntary work. 98% said that they had at least one positive employment related outcome and only 12% thought they could have found another route to gaining these benefits. 86% also said that they shared what they had learned on the ESF projects with family and communities which meant the programme had far reaching effects.

    To read the full evaluation, please click below.

    Paul’s story 

    Paul has found a renewed sense of community.

    Before the project, Paul described his situation as being ‘stuck in a rut’ in which he spent most of his days sat at home watching TV. He had been looking for employment for some time but had continually been knocked back and slowly watching his confidence drop as time went by. Paul initially saw the project as a way to get out of the house but as the project progressed he started making friends and felt he was given an opportunity to network and develop skills that he never knew he had. Paul is working as a volunteer with the organisation that ran the course and will be applying for vacancies as they arise. He is also looking to source funding to develop a new community initiative which creates garden furniture for elderly residents in the area using recycled wood.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/ESF-Community-Grants-Programme-c.aspx Tue, 28 Jul 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA response to Adult Skills and ESOL Budget cuts]]> In response to the further cuts to the Adult Skills and ESOL budgets, Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, says:  “Adult education gives people the chance to get into work and to improve their job prospects.  It also has a direct impact on health and wellbeing, encourages community engagement and volunteering, and transforms the lives of families in disadvantaged areas of the country.  It is disappointing that despite the investment we have made and the successes we have achieved, funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses and other basic skills has been cut, at a time when it is clear that these resources are having an impact.

    “At the recent Adult Learners’ Week national ceremony, we heard from remarkable individuals, many of whom had left school with few or no qualifications, who returned to the classroom as a means of improving their circumstances. At the age of 21, Adele Tilley, a former WEA student, returned to education studying GCSEs in English, maths and ICT. This led on to and Access Diploma in Business Management followed by an Integrated Business Masters at De Montfort University. Adele has now started her own business. Stories like these show the impact adult education can have.”

    Ivan Ojounru, WEA ESOL tutor in Liverpool, says: “The ESOL courses we offer benefit the students in many ways; students are more able to use the English language in a variety of settings, form new relationships and participate more fully in their local communities and wider society. Many of my students have taken up employment, gone on to further study at college or undertaken voluntary work. They want to give something back to their communities.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-response-to-Adult-Skills-and-ESOL-Budgets-cuts.aspx Fri, 24 Jul 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA garden wins award]]>

    The garden is now up for an RHS People’s Choice Award https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-flower-show-tatton-park/gardens/RHS-People-s-Choice-Award.

    We’d like to extend the invitation to to see the garden themselves it's open from 22 – 26 July 2015 and encourage you to vote for Field to Fabric in the RHS People’s Choice Awards large garden category. Voting closes on Thursday night at midnight. Vote here!

    Other images are available on the Instagram profile FieldtoFabric and Facebook Page FieldtoFabric.

    Field to Fabric is an exciting project from Lancashire Museums Service in partnership with the Workers' Educational Association (WEA). Colleagues and students have worked together to produce a feature garden for the Royal Horticultural Show (RHS) at Tatton Park in July 2015. The garden will then be displayed at Helmshore Mills Textile Museum.

    The garden itself is a living resource and that charts the journey of cloth production from plant, through the carding, spinning, weaving and dyeing processes into fabric. All plants in the garden are species that play a part in traditional cloth production. The project sought donations of seeds, plants and gardening tools from local garden centres.

    An important aspect of the Field to Fabric garden is to present the permacultural aspects of planting and support education around species that have become endangered due to agricultural practices, despite being abundant in the past. The garden features a woven willow fence, to signify the weaving process. This was facilitated by WEA tutor Joevanka Gregory and in doing so, worked with some Lancashire schools. Working with WEA tutor Julie James Turner, WEA students produced textile and papier mâché pieces, which highlight local entomology and birds. A series of information panels depict the changing social and industrial landscape in Lancashire, songs and stories of Lancashire mills and the story of the Field to Fabric garden from design to planting.

    WEA students visited both Helmshore Mills Textile Museum and Queen Street Mill Textile Museum as research for their work on this project. These museums are both historic textile mills, which tell the story of an important part of Lancashire's history; its significance during the Industrial Revolution. Helmshore Mills comprise of a woollen fulling mill and cotton spinning mill. Queen Street Mill was a commercial weaving shed until 1982. Both mills are still in production and the cotton spun at Helmshore is woven at Queen Street to produce calico. The Field to Fabric garden features a fabric 'stream' made from calico produced at Queen Street Mill and ends in a dye bath made from natural plant materials.

    Having their work presented at an event as prestigious as RHS Tatton is especially poignant considering the categories of audience who engage in this project; which supports the most hard to reach in our community and includes Asian women and students with learning difficulties and physical disabilities.

    Colleagues from Lancashire Museums and the WEA prepared the garden at RHS Tatton and are on hand during the show from 22 – 26 July 2015. During the show, WEA tutors are offering free of charge taster textile craft workshops to show visitors. Lancashire Museums and WEA courses are being promoted throughout the show to encourage wider engagement in horticulture, permaculture, and the creative processes.

    When the Field to Fabric garden moves to Helmshore Mills Textile Museum following RHS Tatton Show, a celebration event will be held for all WEA students and tutors who have contributed to the project. Students will be given the opportunity to present their work in the form of music, drama, song and exhibition and enjoy the garden in its new surroundings. At Helmshore the garden will be on display to all museum visitors and will be available as a learning resource for visiting schools and events for all audiences hosted by the museum.

    Learning Manager Elaine Bennet who leads the project “We’re thrilled and ecstatic, we didn’t believe we would win anything as we were up against top, top professionals and only entered because we were encouraged by Michael Vincent who had given us free technical support. Judges said our concept was very good and very ambitious, realising the ambition and design. 

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-gardent-wins-award.aspx Thu, 23 Jul 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Lancashire's textile industry showcased]]>

    Volunteers from Offshoots Permaculture Project, Burnley, support the Field to Fabric Garden, a partnership project with Lancashire Museums and Workers Educational Association (WEA).

    Visitors to the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park between Weds 22nd through to Sun 26th July will be delighted by a Field to Fabric garden, a show case of the plants and materials intrinsic to the success of the Lancashire’s textiles industry. Calico cotton produced at Queen Street Mill Textile Museum in Burnley is the basis of a creative water feature.

    The Field to Fabric garden has been created through a partnership with the Lancashire Museums and the Workers' Educational Association (WEA). Local volunteers have helped to grow the plants and design and build the garden using the principles of Permaculture which combines an ethical framework with an understanding of how nature works to create agriculturally productive, non-polluting, healthy human settlements.

    WEA students in East and West Lancashire have contributed to the research for the garden and the textile craft work which represent species of birds, butterflies and woodland animals found in Lancashire. Students’ exploration of natural dyes has resulted in the production of a series of educational postcards and an inspirational textile book available through the Lancashire museums loans collection.

    Elaine Bennet, Regional Co-ordinator with the WEA here in the North West explains “Every plant in our garden is intrinsic in the process of making to the dyeing of fabric. Many of the plants have multiple uses and we have used the principles of Permaculture in our design and execution, mimicking the natural growth and interaction between species, not damaging the ecosystem and relying on nature's course to provide an extremely varied, healthy garden that requires relatively little maintenance. By bringing past and present together, cottage and industrial heritage, we wish to educate, inspire and play our part in supporting education and a living culture.”

    Jessica Forshaw, Lancashire County Council's heritage learning officer, said: "We are very grateful to The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their funding support towards the Field to Fabric garden. The garden highlights how textiles are produced, from the plant through the carding, spinning, weaving and dyeing processes turning it into the finished fabric. All the plants in the garden are varieties used in traditional cloth production. We have learned a lot about species that are now endangered, often because of the agricultural processes we use nowadays."

    The garden will continue to thrive after the show as it will become a living resource in a new home at Helmshore Mills Textile Museum, in Rossendale where, from Sunday 2nd August, the garden and museum is to host a varied events programme including craft activities for the whole family as well as art workshops for adults.

    The RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park, Cheshire will run from Wednesday 22 July 22 to Sunday 26 July. The show features the latest trends in garden design and developments in horticulture.

    Helmshore Mills Textile Museum is run by Lancashire County Council's museum service. The gardens are free to visit but entrance to the museum is £4 for adults and £3 for concessions, accompanied children go free. Car parking is free and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum is fully accessible for disabled visitors, including people with guide dogs.

    For more information about the Field to Fabric garden, or the Museum events programme, please telephone 01706 226459 or email: helmshoremuseum@lancashire.gov.uk. Or visit the web site:  www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums.

    The Heritage Lottery Fund: From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players' money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. www.hlf.org.uk.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Lancashires-textile-industry-showcased-.aspx Mon, 20 Jul 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[MEP gears up for debate on the EU]]> Yorkshire and Humber MEP Richard Corbett will face questions from students on the state of the EU, the European decision-making process and political participation in a lively debate hosted in Sheffield today. The forum is part of a programme from the WEA to support adults from disadvantaged communities to engage with European politics.

    The WEA’s ‘Europe, Democracy and Citizenship in the 21st Century’ project helps local people feel empowered to participate in and influence the work of the European Union.

    Dawn Dale, WEA student, says: “Before the course, I didn’t really know that much about the EU and wasn’t that interested – it just seemed so far removed from everyday life. I didn’t vote in the last European Parliamentary elections because I didn’t see the point.

    “With EU politics dominating the headlines lately, I felt it was something that I should be more informed about so decided to sign up for the course. I’m glad I did as I know so much more about it now and will definitely head to the polls to vote on EU issues. It does make a huge impact to local communities and more people should take the time to find out about it.”

    Richard Corbett, MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, says: “"With a referendum on the UK's EU membership just around the corner, it's crucial that voters have access to the facts and arguments they need to make up their minds. Rather than fighting against the anti-European agenda of our mainstream press, programmes like these provide an important opportunity for ordinary people to take part in discussions, separate fact from myth and make up their own minds."

    Jol Miskin, Regional Education Manager at the WEA, says: ““Projects like these are so vital to promoting active citizenship. At the last European elections, there was only a 33.2% turnout in the Yorkshire and Humber region which signals how high levels of disengagement are. Greater understanding of the issues at hand can help counteract this alienation from the political process. Education, at whatever age, is the key to promoting inclusion, encouraging critical thinking and boosting participation.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/MEP-gears-up-for-debate-on-the-EU.aspx Fri, 10 Jul 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA response to the Summer Budget 2015]]> In response to the Summer Budget, Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the Workers’ Educational Association, says: “Today the chancellor has rightly focussed on productivity as a key issue for the growth and sustainability of the UK economy. This comes following numerous reports on the widening of the productivity gap between Britain and other major competitors.  According to a recent report from the Office of National Statistics, output per hour in the UK was 17 percentage points below the G7 average, 27 percentage points below France and 28 percentage points below Germany.

    “One key reason for this gap is the long-term underinvestment in skills.  In this current climate, there is a compelling case for increasing investment in the education and skills of the whole work force. Only 5% of government spending on education and training goes on adult FE and skills. Education should and needs to be accessible to everyone and in particular those who lack proficiency in literacy, numeracy and digital skills.

    “We are still awaiting further clarification on FE funding which will hopefully become clearer when the Productivity Plan is published on Friday. Currently, there are 5 million people in low-paid work that will not be eligible for an apprenticeship. The WEA would like to see employers and government working in partnership to increase skills and reduce income inequality.  As stated in our manifesto, we believe that auto-enrolling workers at all levels into training and development accounts to support skills development and providing tax relief to employers who give their employees opportunities to learn will help stem the growth in skills shortages.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-response-to-the-Summer-Budget-2015.aspx Wed, 08 Jul 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Field to Fabric]]> Visitors to this year's RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park will be able to enjoy a garden designed to showcase the materials that Lancashire's textile industry used to produce cloth.

    The feature garden will be created as part of the 'Field to Fabric' Lancashire Museums project in partnership with the Workers' Educational Association (WEA). Staff from both organisations will work with WEA students and volunteers to produce the garden.

    The project is financed by a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) award of £53,600.

    Jessica Forshaw, Lancashire County Council's heritage learning officer, said: "The 'Field to Fabric' garden will highlight the plants and natural resources used to make cloth.

    "It will show how textiles are produced, from the plant through the carding, spinning, weaving and dyeing processes turning it into the finished fabric.

    "All the plants in the garden are varieties used in traditional cloth production.

    "The garden will also demonstrate the permaculture aspects of planting and how we can support learning about species that are now endangered, often because of the agricultural processes we use nowadays."

    Elaine Bennet, WEA Learning Manager for Lancashire, has said that “The ‘Field to Fabric’ project will involve WEA students across the county in researching Lancashire’s textile industry - charting the social and industrial background of cloth production from plant, through the carding, spinning, weaving and dyeing processes into fabric.

    "The ‘Field to Fabric’ garden will be a feature at this year’s Royal Horticultural Show (RHS) at Tatton Park in July 2015 before it then moves to Helmshore Mill Textile Museum as a living resource.

    "As part of the heritage journey demonstrating permaculture aspects within the garden, the work will also be displayed at the International Permaculture Conference and Convergence in September 2015”.

    The RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park, Cheshire will run from Wednesday 22 July 22 to Sunday 26 July. The show features the latest trends in garden design and developments in horticulture.

    The garden will be transferred to Helmshore Mills Textile Museum on Sunday 2 August to be enjoyed by more people, following its display at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.

    The project is supported by a varied events programme including craft activities for the family and an art workshop for adults.
    Although the feature garden is free to visit, admission to Helmshore Mills Textile Museum is £4 for adults and £3 for concessions. Accompanied children go free.

    Car parking is free and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum is fully accessible for disabled visitors, including people with guide dogs.

    For more information about the garden, or the events programme, telephone 01706 226459 or email helmshoremuseum@lancashire.gov.uk.

    More information about Helmshore Mills Textile Museum and other Lancashire County Council museums is available at www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums.

    Helmshore Mills Textile Museum is run by Lancashire County Council's museum service.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Field-to-Fabric.aspx Fri, 03 Jul 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A Taste of Honey]]> Did you ever teach or study Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey, either at school or with the WEA?  If so, Dr. Selina Todd would be delighted to hear from you.  Selina is writing a biography of Shelagh Delaney and is keen to know more about the impact of the play on WEA tutors and students.

    A Taste of Honey was written when Shelagh Delany was 18 years old and helped to revolutionise British theatre in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Set in Salford, the play challenged stereotypes of class, race and sexuality through the eyes of a confident and radical rising generation of young working class Northerners.  

    Selina's best selling recent book, The People, drew heavily on first hand accounts of changes in working class life through the 20th Century, challenging assumptions about social mobility.  Now, she's keen to know what A Taste of Honey meant to you.
    Selina can be contacted via e-mail: selina.todd@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk or at:
    Dr Selina Todd
    Fellow in Modern History and Vice Principal
    St Hilda's College
    OX4 1DY

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/A-Taste-of-Honey.aspx Tue, 30 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Mosaic Clubhouse]]> Mosaic Clubhouse in Brixton, which provides support and opportunities to people living with mental health conditions, was featured on Radio 4’s Today Programme as part of a piece on mental health services.

    The WEA has been running a series of Black History and Healthy Eating courses at the centre this year. Tutor Dianne Taylor has been delivering a course to create and compile healthy recipes for and produce the Mosaic Clubhouse Healthy Eating Cookbook. Claudius Steven has been running a course to introduce students to a basic understanding of the changing dynamics in Black identity and the psychological legacy of slavery. These courses are making a real difference to those with mental health. Our students get certificates of achievement on completing their courses and they have been extremely successful.

    Next year we hope to offer three new courses on Poetry, Assertiveness and Communication Skills conditions.

    You can hear more about the work of Mosaic Clubhouse on iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05xj1qb. The piece starts at 01.08.35.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Mosaic-Clubhouse.aspx Fri, 26 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[OU figures show a decline in part-time study]]> In response to the report from The Open University on the decline in part-time study, Ruth Spellman, Workers’ Educational Association CEO, says:

    “The charity shares the concern that the OU and various MPs have voiced over the dwindling numbers of students taking up part-time courses. In England, there are now 200,000 fewer students undertaking part-time study compared to 2009/10. This is an incredible drop of 41%. Policy-makers must act now to stem this worrying trend and encourage more people to boost their skills. We need to treat further and higher education as an infrastructure investment that can transform productivity, social mobility and health outcomes for individuals and communities.”


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/OU-figures-show-a-decline-in-part-time-study.aspx Tue, 23 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA West Midlands hosts ALW awards ceremony]]>

    WEA West Midlands were privileged to host the Adult Learners’ Week Awards Ceremony on the behalf of NIACE at the Thistle Hotel in Birmingham on the 12th of June. The event aimed to celebrate and recognise the inspiring individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to and achievement in adult learning.

    Businesses, teachers, colleges, universities, community learning centres, local authorities, voluntary and community organisations, colleagues and students from across the region nominated outstanding individuals in December and the winners were picked by a panel made up of various individuals for the following categories:

    European Social Fund Individual Award

    Learning for Work Award

    Tutor Award

    Employer Award

    Digital Learning Award

    Project Award

    European Social Fund Individual Award


    The event opened up with a warm welcome from the Adult Learners’ Week Regional Co-ordinator and WEA Research and Communications Manager, Iram Naz. Welcoming the 50 plus attendees, Iram encouraged all to tweet throughout the event using the hash tags #lovetolearn #ALW2015.

    Ruth Doyle, Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing at NIACE provided a short introduction to the background and context of Adult Learners’ Week. Touching upon the importance and value of adult learning, Ruth then encouraged all attendees throughout the event to place messages about 'why they love to learn' on post it paper – which  later created an inspirational collage.

    After lunch, the event resumed with a welcome back from Iram and an introduction to the host of the Awards Ceremony part of the event; Paul Kerensa.

    Paul, a stand-up comedian, actor and writer for BBC1’s Miranda and Not Going Out amongst many other TV shows provided a witty, light-hearted and entertaining introduction. Through a humorous chat about algebraic equations, references to Star Wars and adorable pictures of his family, Paul demonstrated the importance of learning across the life course. He left the audience in good spirits for the commencing of awards!

    The first award was the European Social Fund Individual Award presented to Judy Hawkins, a learner who embarked on an incredible journey to achieve her Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care.

    ‘The support and encouragement I got spurred me on and I now don’t feel afraid of doing more courses’

    The second award 'Learning for Work' award was presented by Andy Challinor from NOCN to Lauren Weigh who embarked on an apprenticeship with Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. Since her apprenticeship, Lauren has undertaken several qualifications to fulfil her career potential including Business Administration and Functional Skills resulting in an Administrative role supporting apprentices just like her.

    The next award was the Tutor Award which was presented to ESOL teacher Sam Millichap. Working with homeless vendors of the Big Issue, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and East African Women some of Birmingham’s poorest communities, Sam has provided invaluable English Language Skills to her students needed for everyday life. Upon accepting her award Sam humbly dedicated her award to her students, the majority being women, and their courage to overcome social and cultural barriers in achieving significant educational progression.

    The fourth award was the Employer Award presented by the Open College Network West Midlands (OCNWM) to Bracken House Care Home. Bracken House took the opportunity to train their staff in Dementia care through Birmingham Metropolitan College (their nominator) resulting in staff having a better understanding of dementia, enabling them to feel more confident to deliver the best possible care and believe they are demonstrating best practice for the industry.

    The fifth award ‘The Digital Learning Award’ was presented to Noel Abel who overcame his nerves about market product and service changes at his workplace by taking the online courses offered by the Internet Marketing Academy. Through determination Noel saw the knowledge he gained on these courses has made a real difference to him and now feels more comfortable explaining and offering advice on websites and marketing plans to his customers. Upon accepting his award Noel reminded us that learning is not just about you but about the opportunity to ‘give back to others’.

    The next award was the Project Award presented by Kate McLeod from Aquarius to the WEA’s Tandrusti Project.

    This outstanding project was established in 2001 promoting health and fitness amongst Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities.

    The project has been a huge success, helping to improve the health and wellbeing of over 4,000 beneficiaries across the Dudley Borough between 2011-2014.

    With a 94% retention rate, the project has become a model of best practice nationally amongst organisations seeking to recruit traditionally ‘hard to engage’ groups. The learners have taken what they have learnt to ensure their families and friends’ health improves as well.

    In addition to helping members of BAMER communities, the project works with wider local and national organisations such as The Office of Public Health to educate people on healthy eating and living through the development and dissemination of booklets with healthy south Asian recipes to support dietary change available, in libraries and promoted by GP practices.

    The project’s nominator Harjinder Doran said: “Beneficiaries have reported significant improvements in their health, fitness and mobility and highly value the wider social benefit such as increased confidence, self-esteem, independence and a sense of belonging to their local communities.

    “One learner on the project said: “ I truly believe my tutor gave me the ‘power’ to change and encouraged me to go back into education. It is more than an exercise class; the healthy eating topics have helped me make changes to everyday life. ”

    The next award was the second European Social Fund Individual Award of the afternoon presented to Mark Bingham, who battled various health issues to gain employment. Unfortunately Mark was unable to attend the ceremony but Helen Hutchinson, Marks Nominator from Cross Keys Homes accepted on behalf of him. Helen promised they would present Mark with the award in a personal ceremony to him at a later date.

    The final award of the afternoon was the Outstanding Individual Award presented by Ruth Doyle to Jessica Carreira. Jessica’s desire to help those struggling with their finances in a positive and enthusiastic way has meant that financial support is now her career. Through her volunteer work and the knowledge she has gained, she now holds a position as a Financial Inclusion Officer at Nottingham City Homes.

    The event concluded with finishing remarks from Ruth Doyle and Louise Williams, Regional Educational Manager for WEA West Midlands.

    'The Workers Educational Association (WEA) is extremely proud to be organising the Central Region Awards Ceremony, covering the East Midlands, West Midlands and Eastern England and coordinating the outreach work across this region.

    The ceremony is a wonderful occasion to showcase the talent, achievement and success stories across adult education throughout Central England.' (Louise Williams, Regional Education Manager, WEA West Midlands)

    We are really proud of all the award winners and thankful to have heard their inspiring and at times emotive journeys. Well done to all and a huge thank you to all that supported the organising and overall success of the day.

    You can read more about the award winners including their stories by downloading the Adult Learners’ Week Awards brochure below.

    European Social Fund Individual Award: Judy Hawkins
    Learning for Work Award: Lauren Weigh
    Tutor Award: Sam Millichap
    Employer Award: Bracken House
    Digital Learning: Award Noel Abel
    Project Award: Tandrusti
    European Social Fund Individual: Mark Bingham
    Outstanding Individual Award: Jessica Carreira

    ALW 2015 Award Winners Brochure

    Listen to Paul Kerensa on Radio 2's Pause for Thought talking about how the ALW Central event inspired him

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-West-Midlands-hosts-awards-ceremony.aspx Thu, 18 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Deaf WEA students visit the Houses of Parliament]]>

    A group of deaf WEA students from Steve Gibson’s “Why Vote” course visited of the Houses of Parliament as part of the WEA’s “Out of the Box” project.

    The  Houses of Parliament Information and Outreach Service, having sent material to the group prior to their visit to help prepare for the day, organised access to the House of Commons gallery as well as giving a brief outline of the history of the building. The students, who are from the Doncaster area, met their local MPs, Ed Miliband, Rosie Winterton and Caroline Flint. They asked searching questions of the MPs on the difficulties deaf people face trying to get work, education for deaf children and the shortage of places in specialist schools. Students also asked how many deaf people work at the Houses of Parliament to highlight the barriers they face in getting into work.

    The event was sponsored by Grand Central, who provided free train travel for the students.

    The WEA’s “Out of the Box” scheme is run by Yorkshire and Humber region to help WEA groups visit cultural venues as part of their course. Previous visits this year have included taking ESOL students to The Bagshaw Museum, Batley, to expand their knowledge of English culture and an art class visiting the Colour Museum in Bradford to get inspiration for a forthcoming art exhibition. Other visits have included singing in Bridlington Priory and creative writers performing at the Ilkley Festival (see http://www.weaoutofthebox.wordpress.com for more stories).


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Deaf-WEA-students-visit-the-Houses-of-Parliament.aspx Wed, 17 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Big Lottery visit for the Greening Wingrove Project]]>

    The team from the WEA Greening Wingrove Project recently welcomed the Big Lottery's Peter Ainsworth, UK Chair, and Mark Purvis, Head of Funding. It was a chance for them to see first-hand the difference the green initiative has made in the local community. Now in its third year, the Newcastle-based project supports the people of Wingrove Ward and the New Mills estate to live sustainably through growing, recycling and saving energy.

    Helen Nisbet, WEA Project Coordinator, says: "We took Peter and Mark around the site so they could see it first-hand and hear from local residents of the positive impact it's made. We were able to show them some of the host sites for the Green Centre ‘green gems’. We talked about the Community Innovation Fund projects and the Vertical Veg Street activity and they were also witness to some of the issues the area faces around litter and waste in the back alleys! The visit ended with a cup of tea and a chat at the Greening Wingrove Bike Garden in Nuns Moor Park.  Both Peter and Mark were very impressed by the WEA Greening Wingrove Project, and were genuinely interested in the range of Greening Wingrove initiatives.

    "We had also invited some of our Community Champions along to meet Peter and Mark along with representatives from the Greening Wingrove Community Interest Company. They spoke about their vision for the area particularly in relation to the Nuns Moor Park and again our visitors were struck with the level of community activity and passion on show.

    "It was a very last minute visit but we hope that our guests enjoyed themselves and we were excited about having the opportunity to present the WEA Greening Wingrove Project to them in on our patch!"


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Big-Lottery-visit-for-the-Greening-Wingrove-Project.aspx Tue, 16 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Adler legacy celebrated]]>

    At around £300,000 the incredibly generous legacy gift left behind by Catherine and Fred Adler has allowed the WEA to embark on valuable projects and fund development, outreach and creative engagement in the Oxford area. Having each been devoted socialists and trade union activists with a passion for the transformative power of education, the Adlers very much embody the WEA ethos  of fairness and equality.

    The Adler Legacy event is held each year as one of the conditions of the legacy gift and, with an audience of tutors, volunteers, students, local councillors and WEA partners, provides an annual opportunity to promote the valuable and often life changing work of the WEA. The day began with a humorous and entertaining performance play written and performed by WEA tutor Tanagra Hala-Hartley and five of her students. Set in an African village, the play was the result of a five week course and provided a charming ice-breaker to the day’s events.

    WEA tutor and researcher Kate Joyce and former student Lisa Birch then led a discussion on the WEA’s important campaigning history and the recent ‘Why Vote?’ workshops.  Touching on the importance of campaigning and political protest, we discuss why people should use their voice and exercise their right to vote. After some startling statistics – for example, 6 million people never registered to vote in 2015 – we debate how low voter turn-out results in a slim majority victory that questions the legitimacy of power and leaves the most dispossessed without a voice.

    Ruskin College History Tutor Ruth Percy then gave a talk on the inspiring political life of Margaret Bondfield - a heroine of the early Labour movement and Britain’s first female cabinet minister. We learn that her shopworker role as a teenager required a 80-100 hour working week and thus she became passionate about issues relating to working conditions. She began writing for The Shop Assistant Journal in 1898 under a pseudonym to shield herself from persecution and became the very first woman to join the Trade Union Congress in 1918. Margaret Bondfield’s life demonstrates that activism holds great power and that community should always triumph over individualism.

    The most affecting part of the day was several tutor and student testimonies that really brought home the value of the work of the WEA and how adult learning can provide confidence and opportunity for its students. These included Joan who, after being expelled from school at 13 and having a daughter at 19, took several WEA courses to help her back into employment and become a positive role model for her children; also, Mona, an asylum seeker who has fled war-torn Syria and is looking to improve life for herself and her children while under threat of having to face the serious consequences of being sent home.

    Read Jenny Gull's story

    Read Jo Brown's story

    Read Joan Cable's story

    Read Mona El Hendaoui's story

    After another successful and interesting Adler Legacy Event, I’m sure Catherine and Fred Adler would be proud to know that the WEA is working hard to do justice to their wonderful gift.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Adler-legacy-celebrated.aspx Mon, 15 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Mental health pilot launched]]> The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) is pleased to announce the launch of ‘True Colours’ as the Community Learning Mental Health Pilot Project for Nottingham.  True Colours is one of 62 projects funded by the Skills Funding Agency until March 2016 to pilot development, delivery, evaluation and sharing of Community Learning Mental Health Courses.
    The WEA together with Bright Ideas Nottingham, Making Waves, BME Cancer Communities and our wider partnerships with diverse Nottingham community organisations, will work together to develop responsive courses and workshops to support resilience and recovery in respect of mental health problems and lived distress.  

    The Office for National Statistics found that in any one year, one in four British adults experience at least one mental health problem. One in five older people experience depression in any year and poorer people, people who are have long term health conditions and people who are unemployed are more likely to be affected by poor mental health than the general population. This project will aim to provide courses which have positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people with mild or moderate mental health issues and enable them to lead more fulfilling lives.

    Ann Walker, Deputy Chief Executive of the WEA said: "Our research shows that community education improves wellbeing and mental health. We are very pleased that the government has recognised the role that adult learning plays in supporting people’s recovery and in helping them to get on back on track with their lives. This funding will help us to work with more students in Nottingham and strengthen the network of much-needed support.”

    The project steering group includes partner representatives and students and volunteers with lived experience working together to coproduce the courses needed in Nottingham. Sarah, a WEA volunteer with lived experience and member of the True Colours Steering Group, said “I'm really glad to be involved with the coproduction of this fantastic project.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Mental-health-pilot-launched.aspx Thu, 11 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA News out now]]> The latest edition of WEA News is now available online.

    News includes the latest details on WEA Conference, a feature on the Bumble Bee Barbarians who are currently raising funds to aid the first ever Mixed Ability Rugby World Tournament along with news from around the Association.

    The WEA has also published its review for 2015. Both publications can be downloaded below.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-News-Spring15.aspx Thu, 28 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Securing a better future for women]]> New report calls for urgent action on workplace gender equality.

    WEA Chief Executive Ruth Spellman and Scottish Widows CEO, Toby Strauss meet Newcastle MP, Chi Onwurah

    A report aiming to improve gender equality in workplaces across the UK was unveiled at the House of Commons.

    The report from the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) – the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education – calls for more action from Government and business to hlep women into work and progress in their careers.

    According to the Government’s Women’s Business Council, 2.4m women who are not currently in employment want to work, and equalising men and women’s economic participation could boost the economy by 10 per cent by 2030.

    The report calls for urgent action in three areas – creating greater opportunities for training and development; ensuring workplaces are as flexible as possible and providing better support for those returning to work following caring responsibilities.

    Key recommendations include: promoting a targeted apprenticeship scheme for parents with young children; providing childcare vouchers to enable parents to take part in work experience schemes and giving employees the statutory right to request flexible working when entering a job. The report was launched at a parliamentary reception held with Scottish Widows and sponsored by Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart. Politicians from Labour, the Conservatives, the SNP and DUP attended the event at the House of Commons.

    The report features a case study of the WEA’s partnership with Scottish Widows, which gives people furthest from the employment market the skills to get jobs.

    With the aim of reaching over 2,000 students in England, Scotland and Wales, the project involves volunteers from Scottish Widows working with the WEA in employability and English classes to help students develop the skills needed to get into work.

    Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, said: “More than 40 years on from the Equal Pay Act, we still do not have workplace equality. Many women are trapped in low pay, low prospect work, while soaring childcare costs are preventing many from getting a job in the first place. Government, business and charities need to work together to give women the opportunity to get jobs and progress in work. Our continuing failure to address the needs of women is costing the economy and preventing women from having fulfilling, productive careers at the same rate of pay as men.”

    Toby Strauss, Chief Executive of Scottish Widows, said: “We have already seen a great take up of our pilot initiative with WEA which is helping us deliver the wider Helping Britain Prosper plan across Lloyds Banking Group.

    “For two centuries we have been committed to helping women plan for a secure financial future, and despite the huge strides that they have taken with finances, there is still work to be done by employers and the government to help improve opportunities in the workplace.”


    Fiona Mactaggart MP sponsored the event and introduced the speakers

    WEA students meet new Bradford South MP, Judith Cummins

    Toby Strauss with West Worthing's Sir Peter Bottomley MP

    Paul Grant MP from the SNP meeting with WEA Scotland Director Jayne Stuart and WEA Vice President Lynne Smith

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Securing-a-better-future-for-women.aspx Tue, 26 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Help the Bumbles raise £50k]]> The Bumble Bees Barbarians, the WEA’s mixed ability rugby team, have just launched a Crowdfunding campaign to raise £50,000 in aid of the first ever mixed ability rugby world tournament taking place in Bradford from 17th - 21st August 2015. Mixed ability rugby allows players with learning or physical disabilities play full contact rugby with their able-bodied peers. Essentially it’s a social inclusion initiative which seeks to radically redefine perceptions of what people with disabilities can achieve.



    The Bumbles will host more than 400 players from 10 different countries including France, Italy, Serbia and Argentina. This event is being run entirely by students and volunteers and is wholly dependent upon voluntary donations.  All the money raised will be used to pay for the accommodation costs for players from countries which cannot afford to cover these costs themselves.

    If you would like to find out more or support the cause, please visit:  http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/1st-mixed-ability-rugby-world-tournament/


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Help-the-Bumbles-raise-50k.aspx Wed, 20 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The Bumbles lead the way on inclusion]]> Mark Goodwin, Head Coach of the Bumble Bees Barbarians, the WEA’s mixed ability rugby team, was awarded the ‘Sporting Chance’ accolade at this year’s National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards. The honour was in recognition of his success in widening participation – thanks to Mark and the Bumbles, hundreds of adults with learning and physical disabilities are able to play full contact rugby in their local communities. This is a relatively new phenomenon and fantastic feat considering that the Bumbles, established in 2009, were England’s first ever mixed ability rugby team.

    Speaking of the award, Mark said:  "I never dreamt that my students would set up a mixed ability rugby team, involve the sports' national governing body and begin training grassroots rugby clubs how to be inclusive. My WEA students are inspiring rugby players; I am proud of them and what they have achieved. I share this award with everyone that has helped the Bumbles get to where they are today".

    Following on from this success, the team has just launched a Crowdfunding campaign to raise £50,000 in aid of the first ever Mixed Ability Rugby World Tournament taking place in Bradford from 17th - 21st August 2015.



    The Bumbles will host more than 400 players from 10 different countries including France, Italy, Serbia and Argentina. This event is being run entirely by students and volunteers and is wholly dependent upon voluntary donations.  All the money raised will be used to pay for the accommodation costs for players from countries which can’t afford to cover these costs themselves.

    If you would like to find out more or support the cause, please visit:  http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/1st-mixed-ability-rugby-world-tournament/

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-Bumbles-lead-the-way-on-inclusion.aspx Tue, 19 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Growing the Local Food Market]]>

    A feasibility study looking into setting up food hubs to make it easier to buy environmentally friendly and local food in the West End of Newcastle.

    The report was commissioned by the WEA Green Branch and was funded by the WEA Greening Wingrove Big Lottery Fund Project and Seedbed.

    It's very difficult to get environmentally friendly and local food on Tyneside. The report investigates ways that this could be changed, how other places in the UK are encouraging communities to make changes to how they shop and how the lessons learned during the study can be applied to other inner cities.

    Click here to download the summary report, or download the full report below.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Growing-the-Local-Food-Market.aspx Tue, 12 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA wins funding from the Royal Astronomical Society]]>

    Adults enjoying an astronomy lesson provided by the Workers’ Educational Association. Credit: Michael Czajkowski, WEA Tutor

    The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) has awarded the WEA funding to work with Liverpool John Moores University on an innovative new project “Open your eyes, look up to the sky…!” which aims to engage hard-to-reach groups in astronomical and geophysics-based science.

    The award is one of six made by RAS for public engagement projects. Prof. Steve Miller, Chair of the RAS 200 Steering Group, said: "We had 92 applications for this scheme, showing great enthusiasm for outreach and engagement with astronomy and geophysics, and the grants panel has had a really hard time picking out just six to receive funding. But the ones we have chosen are truly innovative and exciting."

    RAS President Prof. Martin Barstow added: "This is an exciting new chapter in the history of the RAS, marking the nearly two centuries since our foundation. In funding these projects, we are making a serious commitment to widening participation in astronomy and geophysics. Our aim is to make these inspiring sciences open to everyone, irrespective of their background – RAS 200 is a way of helping to realise that ambition."

    The WEA and Liverpool John Moores University project aims to make science attractive and relevant to everyone, taking advantage of people’s innate interest in astronomy.

    The project team want to leave the legacy of an astronomical and geophysics-based science curriculum for adults, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic background; from entry level up to degree level and beyond. Starting in the North West and rolling out nationally, the project should engage thousands of people each year – and above all it will be fun, funky and fascinating.

    Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, said “This is an exceptional project which will make science and astronomy exciting for everyone.”

    More information on all the winning projects can be found at http://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/2629-460k-for-public-engagement-in-astronomy-and-geophysics-six-teams-win-ras-funding

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-wins-funding-from-the-Royal-Astronomical-Society.aspx Mon, 11 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Vote!]]> Whoever you are planning to support, please remember to vote this Thursday.

    If you are still not sure who to vote for, there are plenty of online sites to help you. We've picked a couple of our favourites below:

    Vote Match from Unlock Democracy: http://www.votematch.org/

    Vetro from Bite the Ballot: https://verto.vote/#/app/home

    There is also a list of other sites at https://www.mysociety.org/2015/03/20/a-list-of-voter-advice-applications-aka-who-should-i-vote-for-tools-for-the-uk-general-election/

    You can also check out your local candidates at https://www.mysociety.org/2015/03/20/a-list-of-voter-advice-applications-aka-who-should-i-vote-for-tools-for-the-uk-general-election/

    If you are still wondering why to vote, why not watch our interview with Guardian columnist, Owen Jones.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Vote.aspx Wed, 06 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Mind and WEA celebrate new anthology]]> The WEA and mental health charity Mind have launched an anthology featuring the work of students on their community learning programme. ‘Shark Bait and Drawing Out’ explores wide-ranging themes such as isolation, trauma, identity and loss. The creative writing course, now in its fourth year, has been an immense help to students coping with mental illness and anxiety. For many, the class is a way of connecting with, processing and communicating difficult experiences, in an environment which is supportive and non-judgmental. Putting pen to paper can often be the hardest part, but this is not the complete picture. As well as giving students a voice, the sessions offer them a forum in which to be heard.

    One of the students recently spoke of the benefits that the course has brought her: “Creative writing with [WEA tutor] Liz Sarkany has been a profoundly moving experience. There has been something about the act of writing in an extremely safe space, sharing – if desired – and being acknowledged by the group and Liz in an extremely nuanced, sensitive and respectful way.”

    The therapeutic benefits of writing on alleviating stress have been well documented but attending the class has impacted the group in other positive ways too. Some students have said that they feel more settled – the class helps them get into a routine through the discipline of regular attendance. Many now count fellow students as friends, adding to their support networks. Another highlight is recognition from others. This month, one student, Dele Oladeji, has had his poem ‘Death’s Poles’ featured in the Big Issue.  The positives may also be about events that have not happened, such as fewer hospital admissions, less reliance on alcohol and so on.

    Liz Sarkany, WEA tutor, says: “It’s been my absolute privilege to work with these writers on this creatively rich and continually evolving project. I am immensely grateful to the WEA and Mind for their unwavering support of our courses.”

    The anthology is available to buy for £3. Please contact Liz at esarkany@wea.org.uk if you would like a copy. Any money raised will go towards supporting the project.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Mind-and-WEA-celebrate-new-anthology.aspx Fri, 24 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The Power of Education]]> ‘The more we educate people, the more they can understand their own power’

    As part of our Why Vote campaign, we have been speaking with Owen Jones, a British columnist and political commentator. In this video, Owen talks about education and how it enables us to understand injustices and to overcome them. 


    Special thanks to Matt Diegan for volunteering to film and edit this series of videos

    It is fundamental that we protect the right to an education, visit www.wea.org.uk/campaign to campaign with us and to pledge your support for lifelong learning.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-Power-of-Education.aspx Wed, 15 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Campaigning, Hope and New Technology]]> ‘Democracy should be a broad, flourishing, inclusive system where there are lots of different means for all of us to use our voice, to group together with other like-minded people and to change society.’

    As part of our Why Vote campaign, we have been speaking with Owen Jones, a British columnist and political commentator. In this video, Owen talks about the politics of hope, saying that he sees people who want to stand up for themselves, their security and their future all the time.

    Owen also speakes about the power and importance of campaigning and highlights that this can come in many different forms.

    Special thanks to Matt Diegan for volunteering to film and edit this series of videos

    In the final of the series tomorrow, Owen will be discussing the power of education.

    Feeling inspired? Campaign with us! Visit www.wea.org.uk/campaign to pledge your support for lifelong learning.  

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Campaigning-Hope.aspx Tue, 14 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The WEA meets Owen Jones]]> ‘Those who need the vote most are those exercising their democratic rights the least… we’ve got to ensure that those who need democracy use the right to vote to make sure they can’t be easily ignored.’

    As part of our Why Vote campaign, we have been speaking with Owen Jones, a British columnist and political commentator. In this video, Owen talks about the power of the vote.

    Special thanks to Matt Diegan for volunteering to film and edit this series of videos

    Tomorrow, Owen will be discussing campaigning, hope and new technology.

    Are you registered to vote?

    Ready to have your say?

    You can register to vote by visiting https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote - as long as you register by 20 April 2015, you can still vote in this year's General Election.

    Already registered? Great! Why not share this video with a friend and encourage them to register? Or you might like to campaign with us. You can do so by visiting www.wea.org.uk/campaign and pledging your support for lifelong learning.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-meets-Owen-Jones.aspx Mon, 13 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Adult Learners’ Week 2015]]> Adult Learners’ Week 2015 runs this year from 13th to 19th June, with the Festival of Learning running from 1st May to 30th June. The Festival of Learning provides opportunities for adults to have a go at learning, organisations to promote their courses and the profile of lifelong learning to be raised.

    Find out more by visiting http://alw.org.uk/

    Follow us on social media t: @WEAadulted

    And support the campaign t: @NIACEhq

    F: https://www.facebook.com/niaceadultlearnersweek

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Adult-Learner-Week-20151.aspx Fri, 10 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[World's first mixed ability rugby tournament]]> The Bumble Bees Barbarians, England's first mixed ability rugby team, is launching the world's first mixed ability rugby world tournament this summer. The competition will kick-off on the 17th August prior to the official rugby world cup games in September. Over 400 players and delegates from ten nations will head to Bradford flying the flag for inclusion.

    The team was founded in 2009 by Anthony Brooke, who was frustrated by the lack of sports available in his local area for those with disabilities. People believed that Anthony, who was born with cerebral palsy, was better off on the sidelines. With the support of the Workers’ Educational Association, Anthony established the Bumble Bees Barbarians, who in recent years have gone from strength to strength. They now have over 40 registered players who train regularly at a local rugby club based in Bingley, West Yorkshire.

    Find out about their incredible journey in their own words.


    To find out more about the games, visit http://www.mixedabilitysports.org


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/First-mixed-ability-rugby-world-tournament.aspx Wed, 01 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA warns skills gaps set to increase]]> Following the announcement by the Government of a 24 per cent cut in the non-apprenticeship skills budget, the WEA is concerned that the Further Education sector may be not be able to provide older workers with the skills needed by business over the next few years.


    Employees over 50 are set to become a third of the workforce by 2020 and UKCES has reported that one in five job vacancies suffers from skills shortages, so retraining older workers will be vital for business.


    Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA said: "Older workers are becoming increasingly important to the economy, so we should be investing in their skills. Reductions in capacity and infrastructure to support adults with their learning will prevent individuals and communities being able to access the benefits of economic recovery and mean that thriving businesses will face skill shortages.


    "The Skills Funding Agency has done its best to mitigate the impacts of he cuts, but it is essential that whichever party wins the next election commits to investing in the skills of older workers."


    Ahead of the election, the WEA has published its Manifesto, which includes a call for personal training accounts and tax relief for employers offering skills training to their workforce to help older workers secure skills for the future.


    Research by the WEA has also shown 65% of students who were unemployed or looking for work claimed that as a result of the course they became more aware of the next steps to improve their employability. It also reported 86% being more confident about finding the job in the future as a result of the WEA course.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-warns-skills-gaps-set-to-increase.aspx Thu, 26 Mar 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Student success - paving the way to university]]> Congratulations to Tina Nicholls, a student on one of our art courses tutored by Gail Wright, who has been offered a place on an art degree course at Southampton University. Tina says: “This offer has come at the perfect time for me, my children are older and my fiancé is very supportive.”

    Tina’s recent learning journey began with a WEA art course called ‘Getting Started’ based in Wootton. Tina attributes her success to attending the course over a number of years and although Tina came with an innate talent she credits Gail with helping her to progress. She says: “Gail has been my source of support and encouragement; I have so much to thank her for.”

    ‘Getting Started’ is designed as a first step course to encourage learners who have missed out on education in the past to come and have another go. The course is designed to be practical, enabling students to learn new skills and develop their creativity. It gives them a chance to draw and paint in a friendly informal group and have fun. Along the way, participants gain in confidence and build support networks. The tutor and other students on the course support each other through what can be a difficult transition. In Tina’s view “Getting Started is there for every level, from inexperienced to experienced artists. “Above this, however, it is a social group through which I have gained many firm friends.”

    After completing her university degree Tina hopes to become a teacher herself and inspire others through art.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Student-success-paving-the-way-to-university.aspx Thu, 12 Mar 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Funding boost for New Links project in Coventry]]> The WEA has received just over £100,000 from the Big Lottery Fund for its New Links project. The project will offer free English language lessons to new and settled migrants and also local people with lower literacy levels in the Hillfields and Foleshill areas of Coventry. The project will mainly target those who have no entitlement to welfare benefits and will develop learner’s skills, confidence and independence with informal yet structured learning of the English language.

    Howard Croft, Projects Development Manager at WEA, said: "The 'New Links' partnership project will improve social integration by offering access to free, community based learning opportunities to improve English language skills. In turn, this will help reduce feelings of isolation and improve employment prospects, thereby building stronger communities. We are very grateful for grant funding from the Big Lottery Fund as this project work could not take place without it."

    "We are working with partners in the local area to deliver this project and are pleased that we will be working in partnership with Hillfields Children’s Centre, St. Peter's Centre and Sidney Stringer Academy to deliver the outcomes of the project."

    Project activities will be delivered locally, are open to all and will include: adult education courses/activities, taster workshops, English language practice clubs, trips to local services, information sessions by local providers and volunteer placement opportunities. The project started this January and will run until January 2018.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Funding-boost-for-New-Links-project-in-Coventry.aspx Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA's partnership with Lloyds Banking Group]]>  


    WEA and WEA Cymru have formed a unique partnership with Lloyds Banking Group to help WEA students secure a better future for themselves and their families. The project is part of the 200th anniversary celebration of what was Scotland’s first mutual life insurer, Scottish Widows.

    During the 2 year project, some 400 employees will share their skills and knowledge with over 2015 WEA students, volunteers and staff. Some Lloyds Banking Group employees will visit ESOL classes and help students with their speaking and listening skills, whilst others will volunteer in employability workshops, designed to help students to identify their strengths and skills and help them onto the path to employment.

    One student commented on the difference it made to have volunteers in her class, saying ‘it helped as it is good to talk and listen to different people’. Another student, who took part in an employability workshop said, ‘I’m more prepared for what to expect, how to present myself and what will get me noticed’.


    After the first two months of the project, 104 students have already benefitted from the voluntary work of Lloyds Banking Group employees and the project is having a positive effect on the Lloyds employees too, with one individual saying, ‘I was engaged fully from the start and didn’t realise how much of an impact I could make to someone’s life in a few hours’.


    To see the impact of the project on students, tutors and Lloyds employees alike is great, particularly ahead of our Parliamentary event on 26th May 2015. The event is a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of our relationship with Lloyds Banking Group and to convey our key messages about the importance of lifelong learning to MPs and decision makers.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEAs-partnership-with-Lloyds-Banking-Group.aspx Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[NIACE launches low pay report]]> NIACE, the national voice of lifelong learning, has today launched a new report No Limits: from getting by to getting on.

    The report says Britain's 5 million low paid workers deserve better support to boost their careers. They suggest a new National Advancement Service to help people climb the career ladder.

    Click here to read the report.

    Commenting on the report, Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA said: “Low pay and productivity are clearly major issues for the UK economy. In the WEA Manifesto, we have proposed ‘Training and Development Accounts’ to support skills development and measures to promote the Living Wage as a solution to both the skills gap and low pay. 

    "We believe the solutions to these problems lie in empowering learners to make their own choices through flexible access to learning and that this should be the focus of Government policy. Learning accounts into which government, employers and individuals can contribute would be more sustainable in the long run."


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/NIACE-launch-low-pay-report.aspx Thu, 12 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Reading can improve your life]]> Research released has revealed that those who read for just 30 minutes per week are 20% more likely to be satisfied with their lives.

    Commissioned by GALAXY® chocolate on behalf of Quick Reads, a charity that produces short books by well-known authors for busy people and less confident readers, the report reveals the fundamental benefits that reading for pleasure can have on the nation’s overall health and wellbeing.

    Produced in partnership with Dr. Josie Billington at The University of Liverpool, Galaxy® found that readers are 21% less likely to report feelings of depression and 10% more likely to report good self-esteem versus non-readers, equipping them with a greater ability to cope with everyday life.

    As many as 42% of the UK’s 16 million lapsed readers2 cited lack of time as their biggest reason for not picking up a book.  Of further concern still was the finding that 1.2 million UK adults have stopped reading as a result of some form of depression.3 Conversely, the report goes on to show that readers are less likely to experience low mood or feelings of depression if they read for as little as 30 minutes a week. 

    The research was commissioned as the 2015 Galaxy® Quick Reads’ titles are released. This year’s bite-sized books are written by a range of leading authors including Jojo Moyes and Booker Prize winner, Roddy Doyle. 

    One of the greatest benefits of being a reader was shown in the analysis around empathy. With just 30 minutes of reading a week, as many as two thirds of readers (64%) reported a better understanding of other people’s feelings versus less than half (48%) of non-readers.

    With one in three adults in the UK not reading for pleasure4, Galaxy® and Quick Reads are calling upon lapsed and non-readers to consider the wider health and wellbeing benefits of picking up a book and starting to read today.  Further compelling benefits to reading revealed in the study were:

    - 43% of readers said reading helped them get a better night’s sleep 
    - 19% of readers said reading stopped them feeling lonely
    - Regular readers reported 57% greater cultural awareness and 21% more general knowledge
    - Readers reported higher levels of creativity (48%) than non-readers (38%)
    - Readers were found to be 27% better able to make time for their friends, perhaps as they were 10% more capable of planning and prioritising

    Dr. Josie Billington from the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society at The University of Liverpool said: “Whilst the cumulative societal benefits of reading have been widely acknowledged, it’s important also to recognise the gains to be had from reading on our personal health and wellbeing.” 

    Cathy Rentzenbrink from Quick Reads said: “I have always found reading to be a great source of comfort and this research confirms what I have long witnessed professionally: reading can help any one of us to be healthier, happier and ultimately to get more out of life.”

    Suzanne Tamsitt, a nurse and mother of one said: “I lost my confidence after suffering postnatal depression and the prospect of reading a book felt like climbing a mountain. Galaxy Quick Reads gave me the perfect stepping stone back into reading, enabling me to regain my confidence and rediscover my love of reading.”

    Emma Thornton, Galaxy® Marketing Director, said: “We are proud to be supporting Quick Reads for the fifth year running and hope that this research will encourage more people to discover the pleasure and benefits of reading. Reading has always been important to us and we recognise the pleasure that can be gained by losing yourself in a great book."

    Six news books have been added to the growing Galaxy® Quick Reads series, each aimed at helping adults across the UK rediscover the pleasure of reading. Further support and resources for adults in the UK who have difficulty with literacy can be found on the Quick Reads website.5

    Galaxy® Quick Reads are bite-sized books written by best-selling authors which cost only £1. They are available from bookshops, supermarkets and online or can be borrowed from libraries across the country. For more information visit www.quickreads.org.uk.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Reading-can-improve-your-life.aspx Fri, 06 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Trustee needed!]]> This is your chance to become a trustee of the Workers' Educational Association - the UK's leading voluntary sector provider of adult education. The charity has over a century's experience of bringing inspirational lifelong learning into the heart of local communities. Our students come from all walks of life but are united by a shared passion for learning.

    As a member of the board of trustees, you will be responsible for directing the affairs of the charity, and ensuring that it is solvent, well-run, and delivering the charitable outcomes for the benefit of the public for which it has been set up.

    You will be appointed to one of the various sub-committees which report to the trustees and will be expected to attend these committee meetings in addition to the four full trustee meetings that take place throughout the year. This means that we are looking for someone who can commit to a minimum of approximately 10 days per year. 

    We are seeking an individual who is able to take a business approach to tasks and ideally has a legal or accounting background. All candidates must share our vision and mission and be fully committed to the role. For further information on the responsibilities of our trustees, please refer to the WEA Governance paper.

    Please click here to download an application pack.

    Please click here to download an application form.

    Closing date 12pm 20 February.

    Interviews will be held during the week commencing 9th March or 16th March.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Trustee-needed.aspx Fri, 06 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[National Voter Registration Day]]>


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/NVRD.aspx Thu, 05 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[New NIACE partnership]]> In response to the launch of the NIACE and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion strategic alliance, a Workers’ Educational Association spokesperson, said:

    “This new partnership highlights the importance of offering those from the most disadvantaged groups the opportunity to return to education. By helping people to reskill and providing them with training opportunities, we can vastly improve their employability prospects – paying dividends for individuals, families and communities. Too many people are excluded from the labour force as they haven’t been equipped with the skills they need in the workplace. NIACE and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion have a wealth of experience and we look forward to seeing the developments which emerge as a result of this new alliance.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/New-NIACE-partnership.aspx Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Changes to the WEA Senior Management Team]]> As part of its Business Planning for 2014-15 and beyond the WEA has been making some significant changes to better align resources and people to address our core objectives:
    • Educational Excellence
    • Sustainability
    • Profile-Building
    These are now the headings for all planning across the Association in England and Scotland. The plans also include a critical set of projects designed to anticipate future demands on the Association and to strengthen our systems and infrastructure. We need to balance strategic investments with efficiency savings so that we have the resilience to face the challenges ahead for the benefit of current and future students.
    Our core vision and mission is as strong as ever. “A better world - equal, democratic and just; through adult education the WEA challenges and inspires individuals, communities and society”  It is as relevant today as it was in 1903 when the WEA was formed.
    As a result of these changes there will be fewer roles in the senior team. At the heart of the new arrangements is a strong education leadership team. A Deputy CEO and Director of Education who will lead on education policy and practice, assisted by two Directors leading on curriculum, quality and student services. The role of all three is to achieve educational excellence.  We will have a Chief Operating Officer(COO) who will lead on financial matters, coordinate back office functions such as finance and audit, contracts, and management information systems as well as lead our HR strategy and functions. The role of this person will be improve our sustainability. We will then have a Director of Marketing, Membership and Income Generation ( DMMI) bringing together the outward facing disciplines, who will manage public affairs, build new market opportunities for the WEA, engage and involve our members and volunteers and work with regions to raise income. The purpose of this directorate is raising profile not only for the WEA but for adult education. In addition the Director for Scotland will have full devolved authority in Scotland but will also deliver educational excellence, sustainability  and a high profile.
    The new structure emphasizes the role that all Directors have in supporting the regions.
    To date, four current Directors have been appointed to the new structure.
    • Ann Walker as Deputy CEO and Director of Education
    • Jayne Stuart as Director for Scotland
    • Greg Coyne as Director for Curriculum and Quality
    • Fiona Parr as Director for Student Services.
    John Williams (Director of Eastern/Southern Regions and New Business Development), Peter Caldwell (Director of London/South West Regions and Curriculum), Mike Attwell (Director of East/West Midlands Regions and Contracts), Peter Templeton (Director of Membership, Volunteering & Marketing) and David Webber (Director for Finance and Internal Services) have opted to leave the WEA for a whole variety of reasons.  They all do so on an amicable basis having cooperated fully with the SMT Review, and with our deep gratitude for the dedication, skill and commitment they have made to the WEA over many years..
    Three posts are now being advertised.  These include Deputy CEO and Director of Education (to replace Ann Walker who retires at the end of June 2015); a new Chief Operating Officer (COO) and a Director for Marketing Membership and Income Growth (DMMI). 
    Ruth Spellman, WEA General Secretary and Chief Executive said: “The autumn period has been a busy and stressful period for staff involved in the process. They have been immensely cooperative with the change process and have  played a key part in it. Their loyalty, contribution and commitment to the WEA over many years is a matter of public record and I would like to thank them on behalf of myself, the Trustees and the wider movement of the WEA. I could not have asked for better colleagues and we wish them well for the future.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Changes-to-the-WEA-Senior-Management-Team.aspx Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Politics: What is it good for?]]>  


    The WEA are working on a joint initiative in 2015 with the 'Question the Powerful' project. We are running a number of day schools throughout the region, entitled ‘Politics: what is it good for?’ where we aim to take a fresh look at political ideas and practices. We will explore what makes politics both fascinating and indispensable, and share ideas on how to engage others in making more of their democratic power in achieving vital social goals.

    The day schools will be tutored by Dr. Henry Tam, Lecturer at the University of Cambridge & Visiting Professor at Birkbeck, University of London. His acclaimed publications include satirical  novels as well as academic books. A former senior civil servant and expert on democracy, he  has been a guest speaker at global events from Strasbourg to Washington. (For more  information see Henry Tam: Words & Politics: http://hbtam.blogspot.co.uk/ ) 

    The dates for the schools are as follows:

    28th February      St Andrews Hall, Cambridge, CB2 3AR

    14th March          Sratton Upper School, Biggleswade, SG18 8JB

    28th March          Suffolk (venue to be finalised)

    11th April            Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, CM1 1SQ

    25th April            The Willow Centre, Norwich, NR4 7JJ

    The day school will serve up:

    • A starter on political history: how did we get here?
    • A taste of different political ideas: what options have we got?
    • A main course of action for you: why we can make a difference?
    • A scrumptious sample of the endgame: which future awaits us?

    To follow the discussions from each of these day schools, follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #WEApolitics

    There is no charge for attendance, refreshments or lunch which will be provided.

    For further information, or to reserve a place, please contact kcoles@wea.org.uk / 01223 417335

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Politics-What-is-it-good-for.aspx Tue, 20 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA launches Impact Report]]> The WEA has launched two reports into the impacts of its work across its four themes, employability, health and wellbeing, community engagement and cultural education.

    The Impact Report, which surveyed over 600 WEA students, highlights the positive impact WEA adult education makes to the lives of individuals across the country.

    The second report examined the long-term impact of the WEA’s work, which shows that there are ongoing benefits to individuals who have taken courses with the WEA.



    Download the Impact Report here.

    Download the longitudinal impact report here.

    Highlights from the Impact Report

    WEA helps to develop skills in students
     71% of all students reported that WEA courses helped them to develop communication skills.
     64% said the courses helped to develop their creative skills.
     49% developed their practical skills.
     42% developed their literacy skills.
     41% developed language skills.
     78% of students knew where to go to improve their English, Maths, ICT or vocational skills.

    WEA courses impact on the employability of students
     65% of students who were unemployed or looking for work1 claimed that as a result of the course they became more aware of the next steps to improve their employability.
     86% reported being more confident about finding the job in the future as a result of the WEA course.
     60% claimed to have become more aware of local work opportunities.
     67% have a better knowledge of support services provided to the unemployed.
     70% are more likely to promote employability training as a positive route towards employment.
     64 % of students said the course gave them new skills they could use in a job.
     38 % felt more confident in progressing in their career
     35% were able to do their job better, and 11% got a new job or changed to a different type of work.

    WEA courses have a significant impact on health and wellbeing of students
     89% of students said the courses helped to keep their body and mind active.
     84% of students aid the course helped them do something useful in their spare time.
     79% said the courses gave them a break from daily stress.
     77% said it gave them a routine or a reason to get out of the house.
     87% of students reported becoming more confident in their abilities as a result of the course.
     84% of all students from all demographic groups reported improvements in their quality of life.
     81% of all students also felt generally better about themselves as a result of the course.
     66% of all students claimed the course gave them a better idea of what to do with their lives.
     34% said the course helped improve their health problems or disabilities: this increased to 57% of those with poor health3, to 66% among those with longstanding mental conditions4 and to 49% for those with longstanding physical conditions5.
     66% of students felt they had more opportunities as a result of the course and this percentage increased to 83% among the unemployed students.
     38% also improved their family relationships. This is true for 55% of parents with underage children and 64% of students looking after the family.
     43% of all students (and 57% of parents) reported better knowledge of where to go for information on health and wellbeing.
     About a third of all students (35%) and nearly a half (47%) of the parents know better how to access support for a health condition.
     34% of students have a better understanding of the impact that physical activity has on their health.
     31% can better understand medical advice.
     64% are more likely to encourage others to get involved in learning to improve their health and wellbeing.
     32% of the students have started living a more sustainable life as a result of the course.
     26% also started exercising as a result of their course.

    WEA courses bring about community engagement:
     93% of students claimed that the WEA courses helped them to make new friends and meet new people.
     98% of students agreed that they met people on the course they would not normally mix with.
     98% enjoyed getting the chance to meet these people.
     54% of students became happy to put forward their opinion.
     44% also became more likely to listen to people who think differently to them.
     45% became more interested in making their community a better place to live as a result of the WEA course they attended.
     44% of students claimed they were able to play a more positive role in their community.
     34% of the students became more aware of how to get involved in decision making.
     86% of students shared the knowledge from their course by discussing the course or the coursework with their community.
     27% also produced written material or exhibited coursework for their community.
     20% of students took more interest in local or national affairs as a result of their course.
     12% of students registered to vote as a result of the WEA course
     15% of students also became involved in some voluntary activity as a result of their course.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-launches-Impact-Report.aspx Mon, 12 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Funding to remember WW1]]> The WEA has been awarded £8,300 for its “Exploring the Impact of World War 1” project. Awarded through funding through Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War: then and now programme, the project will focus on developing and delivering a varied programme of visits, lectures and study opportunities exploring the impact of the war on Herefordshire.

    The aim is for people and communities to explore and learn about the heritage of the First World War in and around Herefordshire and increase their knowledge of the impact of war on places and communities within the County. Activities will be facilitated and co-produced by historians, artists, academics and experts from local archives and museums. Events are taking place from now until September 2015 and examples include; a visit to Hereford Light Infantry Museum, an illustrated talk about Medicine in WW1, and a discussion and viewing of the film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’.

    Information gathered from the learning opportunities will be recorded in-print to enable more people to discuss, contribute, share and research information on the First World War.

    Howard Croft, Projects Development Manager, WEA West Midlands said: “We are delighted to have received this grant from Heritage Lottery Fund. It will help us work in partnership with local museums, resource and record centres to support a dedicated group of volunteers from local WEA branches to plan, organise, and run educational activities. People in Herefordshire will be able to enjoy learning about the heritage of the First World War and share their learning with others”

    Reyahn King, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching every corner of the UK. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £60million in projects – large and small - that are marking this Centenary. Our small grants programme is enabling even more communities like those involved in this project to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”

    If you would like more information about the project or activities please contact; Katherine Brown on 07825934106 or alternatively email: kbrown@wea.org.uk

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Fund-awarded-to-mark-WW1.aspx Thu, 18 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT en


    Twitter   LinkedIn   Facebook   YouTube   RSS Feed

    Have you completed your nomination(s) yet for inspirational individuals, projects, employers or tutors?

    There is less than one week remaining before nominations close at 5pm, Wednesday 17 December.

    Don’t miss out on your chance to nominate this year. It’s quick and easy to nominate online, so don’t delay, nominate now!

    Every year, Adult Learners' Week highlights  some fantastic stories from truly inspirational award winners who have made incredible progress in their lives through learning. 

    Why nominate?

    • celebrate the successes of remarkable learners
    • highlight the positive effects of learning on people’s health, confidence and future prospects, and that of their families and communities
    • enhance the profile of your organisation
    • showcase provision that you are particularly proud of
    • become recognised as an excellent provider of learning opportunities
    • winners receive certificates and learning vouchers.

    Tell us your stories about:

    Individuals who have made a significant difference to their lives through learning, and who would inspire others to do the same.

    Employers who invest in outstanding staff training, and use learning to develop the skills of their workforce to improve productivity, raise morale and enhance their business performance.

    Projects that have made a positive difference to learners' confidence and achievement and helped them change their lives for the better.

     who are passionate and dedicated to learning, and make invaluable contributions to the lives of adult learners from all walks of life.

    Nominations close at 5pm, Wednesday 17 December 2014.

    To find out more about Adult Learners' Week:

    For Adult Learners' Week in Wales, please visit NIACE Cymru 


    'The Bakery has led me to a better position in life and I can now support my family and daughter without making the mistakes I had previously.'

    Bad Boys Bakery
    National Project Award Winner 2014

    Need more inspiration?
    Watch last year's winners' stories on

    Topps Tiles
    National Employer Award Winner 2014

    Amy King
    National Individual Award Winner 2014


    www.niace.org.uk | www.niacecymru.org.uk | www.alw.org.uk


    The European Social Fund (ESF) aims to improve employment opportunities in the European Union by supporting Member States' employment and skills policies. In England, in 2007-2013, the ESF is investing £2.5 billion in jobs and skills, giving people who need support the most, including those in the most disadvantaged communities, the tools and help they need to fulfill their potential. 

    In 2014-2020 the England ESF programme will:
    - help young people, jobseekers and inactive people access employment
    - tackle barriers to work faced by disadvantaged people
    - invest in education, skills and lifelong learning

    You can find out more at


    National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales)
    21 De Montfort Street, Leicester, LE1 7GE, UK

    Tel: +44 (0)116 204 4200/4201 - Fax: +44 (0)116 2046988 - Email:

    A company limited by guarantee registered no. 2603322 and
    registered charity no. 1002775
    Registered address: 21 De Montfort Street, Leicester, LE1 7GE, UK

      Investors in People Silver - Mindful Employer - Positive about disabled people    
    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/ALW15.aspx Fri, 12 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Strictly Democracy!]]>

    BFWG Strictly Democracy 2014 from BFWG on Vimeo.

    As part of this year’s Parliament Week, the British Federation of Women Graduates held the Strictly Democracy competition to celebrate the achievements of five inspirational women who have brought about social change through democracy. The 2014 Strictly Democracy competition showcased projects that focused on:

    • gender imbalance in sport and STEM subjects
    • the use of technology to support young and vulnerable mothers
    • how to achieve a sharing economy
    • developing a cure for Norovirus and engaging with public health

    Contestants included: Lottie Birdsall-Strong, MPhil Graduate student ; Alison Baum, CEO of Best Beginnings; Benita Matofska, Founder of Compare and Share, the world’s first comparison marketplace of the sharing economy; Madeleine Harris Smith, Policy & Advocacy Manager at the Alcohol Health Alliance and Dr Lucy Thorne, Research Associate in Virology, and Centenary Award holder for research on the norovirus.

    Our very own Ruth Spellman was one of the judges tasked with the difficult role of deciding who should be crowned ‘Woman of the Year’. After intense discussion amongst the panel, Alison Baum was crowned victorious. Alison is a real role model and success story – she knows first-hand, what it is like to not have the healthy child you expect.  Her first son David was born with a cleft palate and Pierre Robin Sequence.  Then, lightning struck twice when her second son Joshua was also born with a cleft palate and developed viral meningitis at 8 days old.  This was the inspiration behind why she switched careers and set up the charity Best Beginnings to address childhood health inequalities in the UK.  She has since gone on to win the prestigious Sheila McKechnie "Campaigner of the Year" award and more recently in March, Campaigner of the Year by CPHVA.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/StrictlyDemocracy.aspx Tue, 09 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[£20m for adult community learning and mental health]]> Responding to the announcement that the government will commit £20 million in 2015-16 and 2016-17 for adult community learning and mental health to help adults experiencing mild to moderate depression, anxiety and sleep disorders in England, a spokesperson for the WEA said:

    "Our impact data shows that adult education can make an enormous difference to those suffering from mental health issues. It can increase self-confidence and self-worth, help people develop the skills to cope with depression and anxiety, and open doors into the workplace. Adult education also increases the ability of individuals to understand and make use of healthcare messages, thus reducing thier need for primary or emergency care services. While we of course believe more investment could be made in this area, we welcome the fact that the Chancellor has recognised the impact community learning can make to mental health outcomes in the Autumn Statement."

    To read more about the WEA's work in health and wellbeing, download our prospectus here.

    The WEA Appeal for 2014 is on behalf of improving mental health through education - to find out more, please click here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/20m-for-mental-health.aspx Thu, 04 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Adult Learners' Week 2015]]>

    Adult Learners' Week ceremony

    Every year, Adult Learners' Week discovers some fantastic stories from truly inspirational award winners who have experienced life-changing benefits from learning.

    Last year, there were over 1,500 nominations. Make your selection for 2015 now!

    Participating in Adult Learners' Week is a great way to:

    • celebrate the successes of remarkable learners;
    • enhance the profile of your organisation;
    • showcase learning programmes of which you are particularly proud;
    • highlight the positive effects of learning on people's health, confidence and future prospects; and
    • become recognised as an excellent provider of learning opportunities.

    We want to hear about:

    Individuals who have made a significant difference to their lives through learning, and who would inspire others to do the same.

    Tutors who are passionate and dedicated to learning, and make invaluable contributions to the lives of adult learners from all walks of life.

    Projects that have made a positive difference to learners' development and helped people change their lives for the better.

    Employers that invest in outstanding staff training, and use learning to develop the skills of their workforce to improve productivity, raise morale and enhance their business performance.

    Don't miss out! The deadline for nominations is 5pm on Wednesday 17 December 2014.

    To find out more about Adult Learners' Week visit www.alw.org.uk

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Adult-Learners-Week-2015.aspx Mon, 01 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Government recognises impact of carers]]> Welcoming Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care and Support, statement on carers, a spokesperson for the WEA said: “We welcome the recognition Mr Lamb is giving to carers. They play a vital role in supporting those with illness and disability, but are often the forgotten heroes of our healthcare system. 

    “The WEA believes that reducing the isolation of carers and ensuring their skills are kept up to date so they can return to work where possible is essential to their mental and physical wellbeing. Providing services, like our Dementia Café in Liverpool, can make a real difference to carers lives and helps enable them to support each other.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Government-recognises-impact-of-carers.aspx Fri, 28 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A new written constitution for the UK?]]> The Political and Constitutional Reform Parliamentary Committee has launched a consultation on “A new Magna Carta?” At present the UK has no codified constitution, no single document which sets out the principles by which we are governed. The committee wants to hear from everyone about whether the UK should have some form of written constitution setting out these rules and what any written constitution should look like.

    Unlock Democracy is collecting responses to send to the Committee to inform their report. You can contribute on the Unlock Democracy website here. The deadline for contributions is the 27 December so get your voice heard today.

    In the meantime, Unlock Democracy have produced a short quiz to find out what you know about the Magna Carta. Try below and let us know your score on Twitter @weaadulted #magnacarta.


    This is a great opportunity to have your say in the disucssion about the UK's constitutional settlement; your thoughts and views will have a huge impact on the consultation so visit the Unlock Democracy website here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/A-new-written-constitution-for-the-UK.aspx Thu, 27 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[New ESOL course proves invaluable]]>

    Students from the Bazaar Project

    A new course led by the WEA and MRS Consultancy has proved an invaluable way of boosting the language skills of ESOL students. The scheme, The Bazaar Project, is part an EU-wide initiative which encourages students to use basic English in community contexts. The WEA worked with Heckmondwike primary school in Kirklees to offer a six-week course, with students meeting twice a week at the school. The project was co-ordinated by WEA Organiser Rose Farrar, with the student group facilitated by Abida Aslam, who is responsible for the school’s community development.  Curriculum support was given by Judith Boardman, a highly experienced ESOL tutor.  Their collaborative approach, with the school at the heart, was vital to the success of the project and the meeting of the students’ needs and interests.

    The students put their newly acquired language skills to the test in a range of everyday scenarios from speaking to sales assistants in local shops to talking to teachers at their child’s school. Evidence of them developing and using their language skills was recorded using photo, sound and video clips, with examples displayed on a blog promoted via the school’s website. In addition, learners were encouraged to complete practical homework tasks to extend and develop their use of English.

    Rose Farrar, WEA Organiser, says: “All of our students feel more confident and independent as a result of the project. We want to share how they have been enthused, motivated and empowered to help others begin the journey of mastering a new language.”

    You can find out more about the project by visiting https://bazaarprojectinheckmondwike.wordpress.com/


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/New-ESOL-course-proves-invaluable.aspx Tue, 25 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[PM accolade for founder of pioneering project]]>

    Anthony Brooke, Bumble Bees Barbarians Founder

    Anthony Brooke, founder of England's first mixed ability rugby team, the Bumble Bees Barbarians, has been honoured with a Point of Light award in recognition of his outstanding community work. The awards are supported by Prime Minister David Cameron and celebrate the achievements of people across the country who make a positive impact and inspire others.

    The team was founded in 2009 by Anthony, who was born with cerebral palsy. As a long-time rugby fanatic, he was frustrated by the lack of facilities available in his local area for those with disabilities. He had always wanted to play the sport, but when he approached clubs he was offered the position of water boy or encouraged to play tag rugby with other players with disabilities. Anthony believed that it was time for a change and established England's first full contact mixed ability rugby team.

    With the support of the Workers’ Educational Association, the Bumbles have gone from strength to strength and now have over 40 registered players who train regularly at a local rugby club based in Bingley, West Yorkshire.

    Thanks to the Bumbles, there are now three new mixed ability rugby clubs in England, with others in the pipeline across Europe. Following on from this success, next year, the Bumbles will host the first international mixed ability rugby tournament.

    The Prime Minister said: “Anthony is an inspirational rugby fanatic that wouldn’t take no for an answer. His determination to start a mixed ability club has created a team that breaks down barriers, letting players of all abilities come together as equals.

    “The Bumble Bee Barbarians are challenging perceptions in games across the UK and have inspired others to open their own mixed ability clubs. I’m delighted to name Anthony the UK’s 160th Point of Light.” 

    Ruth Spellman, WEA CEO, says: “Many congratulations go to Anthony on winning this fantastic accolade. It is a wonderful achievement and everyone at the WEA is proud of him. He is a credit to the country, to the sport of rugby and to his community. His success will be enduring as others are inspired by his example and he is a beacon of hope for those who suffer from disability.

    “When we watched the Paralympics in 2012, we were celebrating ability which is what the WEA is all about. Anthony is living proof of what can be done if people are supported and encouraged.  We will be supporting Anthony and the Bumbles every step of the way.”


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/PM-accolade-for-founder-of-pioneering-project.aspx Tue, 25 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[#GivingTuesday - we are celebrating volunteering with the WEA]]> #GivingTuesday

    #GivingTuesday (2nd December) is a global day of giving and is an opportunity to come together to show the world why it’s good to give.

    Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering your time or just spreading the word at the start of the Christmas shopping season, #GivingTuesday is a call to action for everyone who wants to give something back.

    The simple idea behind #GivingTuesday is to encourage people, charities and businesses to donate time, money or their voice to help a good cause.


    All next week we are celebrating our volunteers and those who support us in many different ways.

    Every day we will be showcasing a volunteer who gives their time and energy to the WEA, either in the classroom, in a WEA Branch, as a WEA Ambassador or supporting students with mental health difficulties.

    We will be using #GivingTuesday on Twitter and on our Facebook pages, as well as on our main and Regional websites, to tell some of our volunteers' stories and celebrate the art of giving through volunteering.

    You can get involved in many different ways and help support the event on, and before, Tuesday 2nd December. You can re-Tweet messages on Twitter using the #GivingTuesday hashtag, share and like any related posts on Facebook and take a look at volunteer's stories on our webpages.


    You might even like to post an 'unselfie' photo of yourself on Twitter or Facebook, with a written message stating why you support the WEA or why you volunteer with the WEA (don't forget to use the #GivingTuesday or #unselfie hashtags in your written message):



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/GivingTuesday---we-are-celebrating-volunteering-with-the-WEA.aspx Thu, 20 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Rosie Winterton MP welcomed at the Yorkshire & Humber AGM]]>

    Martin Glover, WEA Volunteer of the Year and Rosie Winterton MP

    Rosie Winterton MP attended the WEA Yorkshire & Humber region’s AGM and Conference which was held at the Mansion House in Doncaster on Saturday 15th November 2014.  Rosie, who is the MP for Doncaster Central, gave a warm welcome to Doncaster to all of the attendees which included volunteers, students, tutors and staff.  She spoke about being a Parliamentary Friend to the WEA and pledged her support for the WEA manifesto.  Rosie also presented the WEA Volunteer of the Year, Martin Glover, with his Award Certificate.

    Rosie Winterton is one of 70 other parliamentarians who have agreed to be friends of the WEA. Their support gives WEA students and members a voice in Government and beyond to ensure the concerns of adult learners are heard at the highest political levels.



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Rosie-Winterton-MP-welcomed-at-the-Yorkshire--Humber-AGM.aspx Tue, 18 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Awards 2014]]>

    WEA Awards 2014

    The remarkable achievements of WEA students, tutors and colleagues were celebrated yesterday in the charity’s annual awards ceremony.  Dr Finn Mackay, founder of the London Feminist Network and WEA ambassador, delivered a rousing speech on the value of adult learning – a subject which is of special importance to her. Dr Mackay epitomises what the WEA aims to achieve – giving students a second chance at education to allow them to fulfil their potential and realise their ambitions.

    Award winners were from across the country, each with an inspirational story to share.  You can read more about them and their journeys in our awards booklet ‘Making a difference: Impact of WEA Education’. 

    Ruth Spellman, WEA Chief Executive, said: “Every year, I never fail to be moved by hearing the stories of those in the WEA community. It isn’t just about the progress made in the classroom but reigniting the joy of learning and helping students to explore a new path. One of the key things I took from the day was the quote ‘education isn’t a means to an end, it’s a way of life’. That’s certainly true at the WEA and something which will never be lost. Congratulations to all the award winners and thank you for sharing your experiences with us.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Awards-2014.aspx Thu, 13 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Tesco helps students with healthy eating]]> WEA Course Organiser Chris Stewart arranged for a group of students to visit a Tesco store in Rugeley to learn about healthy eating and nutrition. He describes the visit below.

    "Over the holidays our local Tesco put pictures of a school visit to the store on their community Facebook page, so we enquired about a visit from our WEA Cooking on a Budget group as part of a nutrition project funded by Cannock Chase Council. A visit was arranged for the following Thursday.

    "On arrival we were taken to a room upstairs where the staff began our two hour session with the Master Baker giving a demonstration of making bread in the shape of animals. Following this each student was given a lump of dough and asked to choose the animal they would like to create. These were then loaded onto large trays and taken to the bakery department to cook.

    "We then had a discussion on 5-a-day fruit and vegetables and which students liked to eat or had never tried. We then were taken down to the shop floor to the fresh produce area where the group was split into two with each group given a basket. They proceeded to collect fresh ingredients they would like to eat on pizza. They chose a range of items including tomatoes, cheese, fresh pineapple, mushrooms, red & green peppers, garlic and onions and visited the meat counter to collect slices of ham, chicken and pepperoni.

    "On returning upstairs the students began cutting and chopping and adding their ingredients onto individual pizza bases. When they were happy with them, these were taken away to cook. Drinks were provided they waited for the pizza to cook and they had a discussion about what they had experienced while eating the remainder of the ingredients.

    "Pizzas arrived and were boxed up for them and they were given the recipes for bread and pizza. Tesco provided the students with certificates and then took them to the bread department to collect their fresh bread animals.

    "The Tesco staff were amazing with our group and we now have another visit planned for November on Farm to Fork."

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Tesco-helps-students-with-healthy-eating.aspx Thu, 06 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Creative arts courses in Portsmouth]]>

    Omega Arts is an exciting new programme of workshops, short courses and arts-focused weekends. Our team of highly-skilled artist-tutors means that we are able to cover a wide range of arts and crafts areas, and we're adding more all the time. Courses take place at the WEA-run Omega Centre in Southsea, Portsmouth: a modern adult learning centre based in a grand Victorian school with an extensive range of traditional and modern arts facilities, including printing presses, a pottery studio, kilns, and amazing art rooms with high ceilings and beautiful windows providing an abundance of natural light.

    Click the links below to find out more about our courses and what Portsmouth has to offer:

    About Omega Centre | November courses | Omega Gallery | Visiting Portsmouth | B&B accommodation offer


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Creative-arts-courses-in-Portsmouth.aspx Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Skills Minister praises adult education providers]]>

    Skills Minister, Nick Boles MP, praised the quality of adult education offered by the nine Specialist Designated Institutions (SDIs) at an event in Parliament on Tuesday 14 October.

    The SDIs - City Lit, Fircroft College, Hillcroft College, the Mary Ward Centre, Morley College, Northern College, Ruskin College, Working Men’s College and the Workers’ Educational Association – were holding their first ever joint parliamentary reception to celebrate their work.

    Created as part of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, the SDIs offer a vast range of adult education courses for over 130,000 students across Britain each year. The event marked the launch of a campaign by the institutions to highlight the value of adult education and the unique range, reach and relevance of the SDIs work, which transforms the lives of people who are educationally, economically and culturally marginalised.

    Speakers at the event included former Conservative education secretary, Baroness Gillian Shephard, Labour peer Baroness Janet Whitaker and Liberal Democrat peer, Baroness Sue Garden. They were joined by Nick Boles MP along with Ruth Spellman of the WEA and Jill Westerman of Northern College who spoke on behalf of the SDIs.

    Skills Minister Nick Boles said:
    “I was delighted to meet with representatives from Specialist Designated Institutions to celebrate their contribution to adult education. These organisations deliver learning that has profound, life-changing impacts on the lives of individuals, families and communities, particularly those who are disadvantaged.”

    A spokesperson for the SDIs said:
    “The SDIs are a unique part of the further education landscape. We play a vital role in giving people the skills and confidence to live healthier, happier and more productive lives. The support of parliamentarians from across all the political parties is essential to our work, so we were delighted that Baronesses Shephard, Whitaker and Garden along with Mr Boles were able to speak about the importance of adult community education.

    “We look forward to continuing to work with MPs and Lords to ensure the voices of our students are heard at the highest level.”


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Skills-Minister-praises-adult-education-providers.aspx Fri, 17 Oct 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Strictly Democracy!]]> Rising female stars from science, technology, medicine, charity work and social innovation will compete in a “Strictly” style competition in November, as part of Parliament Week, called Strictly Democracy.

    Five female contestants who are academics, entrepreneurs and campaigners will be judged and rewarded, not for their dance moves, spandex and celebrity, but for their social and medical breakthroughs, charity work, campaigning and democratic successes.

    As part of this year’s Houses of Parliament’s Parliament week, the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG) is holding the Strictly Democracy competition on 18 November to celebrate the achievements of five inspirational women who have brought about social change through democracy. The winner will be awarded the title "Woman of Democracy 2014".
    Strictly Democracy will showcase projects that focus on:

    • gender imbalance in sport and STEM subjects

    • the use of technology to support young and vulnerable mothers

    • how to achieve a sharing economy

    • developing a cure for Norovirus and engaging with public health

    The event is similar in format to that of the BBC dance show, Strictly Come Dancing. The five women will compete for the audiences and judges vote by making their best pitch for why they should win the “Woman of Democracy 2014” title. A panel of judges will consider their pitch and share their opinions with competitors and the audience. The audience is then asked to make a decision and vote for their favourite project.

    The contestants are:
    • Dr Ellie Cosgrave – Co-founder of ScienceGrrl
    • Alison Baum – CEO of charity Best Beginnings
    • Benita Matofska – Chief Sharer, The People Who Share & Compare and Share. Founder of Global Sharing Day
    • Dr Lucy Thorne – Centenary award holder for research on the norovirus
    • Lottie Birdsall-Strong – Graduate student at Cambridge carrying out research into gender equality in Sports

    Strictly Democracy is part of a programme of events and activities being held as part of Parliament week (14 - 20 November 2014) called “Do Democracy” which aims to connect people across the UK with Parliament and democracy.  Guests and voters will be asked to share their comments, votes and opinions during the event on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
    Judging the projects will be the first woman CEO of the Worker’s Educational Association Ruth Spellman OBE, National Council of Women President Gwenda Nicholas, the President in 2016-17 of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Eve Conway, and the current and former Presidents of the BFWG, Dr Gloria Banner and Jenny Morley.

    The chair is Gwen Rhys who is founder and CEO of Women in the City – an organisation which promotes, recognises and rewards female talent.

    Event partners include the HoP Parliament Week, Workers' Educational Association, Best Beginnings, People Who Share, Women in the City, Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, ScienceGrrl, and The National Council of Women Great Britain.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Strictly-Democracy.aspx Mon, 06 Oct 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Scottish Referendum]]>

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Scottish-Referendum.aspx Wed, 24 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A new Magna Carta?]]> The House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has launched a major consulation on the shape of our democracy today. Information on the consultation is below and available on the Parliament website here.

    The WEA is planning to make a submission, so if you would like to comment on what you think our response should be please email news@wea.org.uk. Alternatively, make your own submission here.



    The most famous constitutional document in England’s history, the Magna Carta, has its 800th Anniversary next year, but  the Committee has been looking forwards by working on a major project with King’s College London to develop several different visions of what a democratic settlement for the UK could look like. The King’s College research lays out three different models – including one fully fleshed out, complete constitution – and sets out some of the arguments for and against codifying the constitution in this way.

    Arguments for

    The King’s research points to the fact that the UK has a "sprawling mass" of common law, Acts of Parliament, and European treaty obligations, and a number of important but uncertain and unwritten "conventions" that govern administration, but the full picture is unclear and uncertain to electors in our democracy. They point to concerns about an "elective dictatorship", and argue that it has "become too easy for governments to implement political and constitutional reforms to suit their own political convenience". A written constitution would entrench requirements for popular and parliamentary consent.  The present unwritten constitution is "an anachronism riddled with references to our ancient past, unsuited to the social and political democracy of the 21st century and future aspirations of its people. It fails to give primacy to the sovereignty of the people and discourages popular participation in the political process."

    Arguments against

    Conversely, the case against a written constitution is that it is unnecessary, undesirable and un-British. The UK’s unwritten constitution is evolutionary and flexible in nature, enabling practical problems to be resolved as they arise and individual reforms made. The research points to concerns that a written constitution would create more litigation in the courts and politicise the judiciary, requiring them to pass judgement on the constitutionality of government legislation (which currently happens only in some contexts, such as compatibility with the Human Rights Act), when the final word on legal matters should lie with elected politicians in Parliament, not unelected judges. There is the simple argument that there are so many practical problems in preparing and enacting a written constitution, there is little point in even considering it. There is no real popular support or demand and, especially given the massive amount of time and destabilising effect such a reform would entail, it is a very low priority even for those who support the idea.

    Given these polarised views, the Committee is launching the consultation to get input from all quarters on the possibilities.

    Graham Allen MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

    "We are living through a period of considerable democratic change and upheaval.  During the last two decades, under Governments of various stripes, we have had devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, putting human rights into UK law, freedom of information legislation, the removal of most hereditary peers from the House of Lords, the establishment of the Supreme Court, and the introduction of fixed-term Parliaments.

    At the same time, attempts have been made to write down some of our existing democratic arrangements which are not actually part of law in documents such as the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code, and the Cabinet Manual.

    These changes, and attempts to write down existing arrangements, have, however, been piecemeal.  At the beginning of the 2010 Parliament, we felt that the time was right to engage the public in a comprehensive evaluation of the United Kingdom’s democratic arrangements, culminating in this consultation which runs into the year that we will celebrate 800 years since Magna Carta. We are looking for views on the three suggested alternatives we are putting forward, but also on the idea itself of the UK having a written constitution. The question is, do we need a new Magna Carta to shape Britain’s relationship with its people, Europe and the world for the next 800 years."

    The consultation runs until January 2015. See the Committee’s inquiry page for more detail on how to participate: 
    Consultation on "A new Magna Carta?"

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/A-new-Magna-Carta.aspx Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Get in shape with the WEA]]> I first heard of the WEA and its “keep fit” classes in Meir a couple of years ago through a flyer at Meir community centre. They’re 10 week classes. I’ve been doing the classes for a couple of years now.

    Before doing the classes, I was at home bringing up my 3 children and I wasn’t working, but doing a foundation degree in complimentary therapy, which I’ve now finished.

    I thought to join the WEA course because I wanted to lose some weight and get into good physical shape as well as meet new people.

    I didn’t have many problems when I joined the classes because they fit in and around my schedule so it wasn’t much of a problem.

    If I hadn’t taken a course with the WEA I think I probably would have stayed the same. I wouldn’t have attended other fitness classes for so long because most of them are expensive (plus I wasn’t working at the beginning) and thus I wouldn’t have continued with them for such a long time. I don’t pay for the classes I took in Meir; it’s great that they are free!

    I would definitely recommend the classes to others, my mum knew that I was doing them and now she’s also joined them after retiring and she’s now done three terms.

    The WEA Meir keep fit classes have contributed towards improving my health and I have had a significant weight loss of 2 and a half stone over the last couple of years. I’m now working part time as a carer now as well as a result of the confidence that I gained from the classes such as meeting new people.

    Through the class, I also did a local half marathon at the Potter’s Arf. I was part of the relay and I’ve done it twice. I wouldn’t have done something like this if it weren’t for the fitness classes!

    I like the classes, the tutors are really very good and I met new friends and learn about health issues as well as the aerobics. I felt a sense of independence as well as I was doing something for me, to improve my fitness and it helped with that. The classes are also in very good locations, I don’t have to travel too far. I also think the classes are well taught, enjoyable and fun. Hopefully in September, I’ll enrol again to join the next classes.

    Find a course at www.wea.org.uk/courses

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Get-in-shape-with-the-WEA.aspx Tue, 02 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Why Vote?]]>

    A 'Deciding Locally' focus group in action

    'Deciding Locally' is the WEA’s campaign to increase political engagement, boost active citizenship and tackle dwindling numbers of voters at polling stations across the country. The charity has a long history of political activism, encouraging people to shape the decisions which affect their communities. In a year that has seen the local elections, the European elections and in which there has been vehement debate over the prospect of an independent Scotland, the question is certainly a timely one.

    In the latest part of our campaign, we have teamed up with Green Square Housing Association to find out what exactly is preventing local residents from using their vote. A cross-section of residents from Wiltshire were surveyed to determine the reasons behind voter apathy and investigate ways of improving electoral turnout.

    The results revealed an overwhelming sense of political disillusionment, with people losing faith in the politicians claiming to represent them. For many voters, it is no longer viable to vote for a candidate that they do not feel reflective of themselves or their community. Voter apathy has become a sign of voter dissatisfaction.  Other reasons of a more practical nature for voter abstinence included: lack of easy-to-understand information, work commitments and illness.

    So what can be done to tempt people back to the polls? For some, a greater variety of voting methods would lure them. People would like the flexibility of voting from their own homes or on the move by voting online or via text. A large number also suggested short versions of each political party’s manifesto in clear and concise language.

    The importance of attracting younger voters was also discussed. While 18 – 34 year olds questioned were reluctant to exercise their right to vote, most could think of things which could improve their communities and were willing to get involved in local issues. Some respondents also mentioned the need to start political education at an early age, with primary school pupils learning how voting affects them and the country.

    The study on voting behaviour has been circulated to local councillors and MPs and has been well received. Councillor Bill Douglas commented: “This is, I feel, an important report and they have done a real service to the community.”

    With the 2015 General Election looming it remains to be seen whether we can get voters engaged and at the polls. In the meantime, the WEA will continue to ask the question ‘why vote?’

    To find out more about the campaign, click here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Why-Vote-Wiltshire-residents-have-their-say.aspx Tue, 02 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Three new WEA branches]]>

    WEA Scarborough

    The WEA’s branch programme continues to go from strength to strength with three new branches opening across the country.

    In the North West, students from a Community Development course in Manchester’s Moss Side and Hulme areas have formed a branch to reflect the needs of the community.

    Tina, who has also gone from student to branch organiser, said. “One of my neighbours said that we had become a community of ghosts and that really affected me. We are on the periphery of everything and we need to start saying something.”

    Cae has campaigned for real community involvement for many years and explains the inherent frustrations involved and how the branch can play a real part in the future. “Most funding over the years has gone to the local council to deliver programmes they wanted to put through while the community were passive. Setting ourselves up as a branch allows an involvement that means we can help the community develop its own ideas for five, ten, fifteen years.”

    To find out more click here.

    In Scarborough a group of students and tutors have come together to recreate a branch that had been defunct for a number of years. The group feel that WEA Scarborough can make a real difference to the cultural and educational landscape of the area. Links are already being made with local societies, venues, galleries, the tutor pool is growing, and new courses are already in the pipeline. In 2014-5, there will be Art courses, Ceramics, Film Studies, Local History, Literature, Scriptwriting and Creative writing, Geology, WWI studies; Health and Well-Being courses such as T'ai Chi, Yoga, and Dance as well as a range of targeted courses in schools, Children's Centres and in partnership with local groups and organisations.

    To find out more click here.

    Finally in the East Midlands, the Women Leading Learning group in Nottingham has formed the WEA’s first new branch for women for many years, and the only one currently active. The group aims to discuss, challenge, identify and implement ideas and needs regarding what, how and where women want to learn within the WEA.

    Emma O’Neill, joint WLL Marketing and Publicity officer said;  ‘While austerity measures are evidently effecting the already disadvantaged the effect has been taken seriously by a group of women from Nottingham and Nottingham who are very proud to announce the formation of England’s first Women Lead Learning Branch of the WEA for many years. Our sole aim is to improve the quality of women’s lives by making access to education easier, regardless of background and circumstance, and to provide mutual support to women and the WEA through the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire region’.

    To find out more click here.

    WEA Women's Branch

    Branches have played a vital part of the WEA since it started in 1903. They give volunteers an opportunity to develop courses that respond to local needs and members have an important role in the governance of the Association.

    If you would like to find out more about how to start a branch, please download our guide here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Three-new-WEA-branches.aspx Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[New WEA health initiative]]>

    Linda Harrington, 'Get Out, Stay Well' Organiser pictured third from the left

    The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) has been awarded nearly £30,000 from the NHS Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver an innovative new health initiative – ‘Get Out, Stay Well’. The project is designed to ease the transition between being a hospital in-patient and being discharged. It will also reduce the likelihood of re-admission into hospital.

    Free health education and physical activity courses will be provided for: those on the cusp of being discharged; discharged patients and regular users of out-patient services. Qualified WEA tutors who specialise in health and wellbeing will support people to achieve independent and healthy living. The project, based in Stoke-on-Trent, is scheduled to run until March 2015.

    Linda Harrington, 'Get Out, Stay Well', Organiser said: "We really want to hear from anyone who would like to be part of friendly groups learning together near to their own homes. My role is to find out what people want to do and as people often struggle to access local information and support. We hope these courses will really help."

    Clare White, WEA Project Manager, said: “We are so glad to be able to start a project which many of our learners and partners have said will help people, especially the isolated, to lead a healthy life when they come out of hospital. Education at any age is a vital tool in maintaining health and coping with transition periods and we know that it helps people to feel able to make the most of local services and support networks. We are also really excited to have this opportunity to work directly with the CCG for the first time and are looking forward to being able to exchange learning with them on this project.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/New-WEA-health-initiative.aspx Wed, 13 Aug 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The First World War]]> A working class hero is something to be: Philip Anthony Brown was one of the Workers' Educational Association's first tutors in the North East of England.

    Setting aside the offers of a glittering academic career, and the expectations of a privileged background, he dedicated himself to teaching economics and history in the mining towns of Co. Durham before 1914. A brilliant historian, he worked with GDH Cole and RH Tawney, also WEA tutors, on researching and publishing 'history from below', the story of working class and democratic struggles for political liberty and the right to an education.

    After long debates he joined the army as a private in 1914, rejecting at first the chance of entering the officer class. Transferring to the Durham Light Infantry, he served with former WEA students and miners until, on 4 November 1915, he was fatally wounded in France. But he died among his friends having been brought back to the British line by Durham miner, Thomas Kenny, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery and selflessness in rescuing Brown under heavy enemy fire.

    Brown's Colonel wrote: 'He was the most popular officer with both men and officers ....and his platoon were so angry that they could with difficulty be restrained from going out there and then to avenge his death.'

    WEA Durham branch have recently donated some money to help sponsor a floral tribute to Thomas Kenny on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1. Branch chair Kath Connolly, Vice-chair Sue Rothwell and secretary Marjory Winnie attended the opening ceremony on 30th July 2014 along with Margaret Hedley, a current tutor with the WEA. Margaret continues to be pivotal in helping to make contact with both families in the hope of possibly re-uniting them to commemorate the lives of Phillip Brown and Thomas Kenny.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Remembers-the-First-World-War.aspx Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA London has moved]]> WEA London has moved offices.

    If you wish to contact London region:

    Workers' Educational Association

    4 Luke Street

    London EC2A 4XW

    T: 0800 328 1060 (enrolments)

    T: 020 7426 1950

    E: london@wea.org.uk

    W: www.london.wea.org.uk

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-London-has-moved.aspx Tue, 05 Aug 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Tyne history goes on display]]>

    A group of students who attended our programme of ‘Maritime’ history courses in South Tyneside approached the WEA South Tyneside branch for support to keep working together to develop and share their knowledge on the River Tyne – its shipping, its history and its people.  The Branch were successful in obtaining £2000 from the Community Foundation and together with their course organiser, Susan Heptinstall and WEA tutor, Dr Tony Barrow the group worked on a project to explore the rich history of one of the lesser known aspects of life and work on the River Tyne – the Tugboat Industry. 

    The group amassed a huge amount of original source material including photographs, documents, news items, film and oral histories and put together an exhibition which attracted over 400 visitors in the 3 days it was on display in South Shields.  Many members of the local community involved in the river were attracted to our exhibition and shared memories, information, photographs and tales of working lives on the river.  

    The exhibition is currently being shown at Cleadon Park Library in South Shields until 9th August 2014 before moving to other venues around the North East.  If you are interested in knowing more about this project or would like to share some information with us please contact sheptinstall@wea.org.uk or ring 0191 212 6100

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Tyne-history-goes-on-display.aspx Wed, 30 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Whole life learning]]>

    The Horley Arts & Craft Group is a great example of how learning can benefit your whole life. Made up of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s, the group is a real mixture of learners, including some with health or personal problems. They are all very committed and very creative and have had a go at everything from pastels to printing, card-making to cushion covers. They take a great deal of pride in their work and are always eager to help each other.

    Tutor Gabrielle Girardey said: "The attendance is exceptional on many weeks the full numbers are there which is very unusual with this type of class and the students' age group. It is very important to them to attend and although the social side is important, the art is the key thing. The group's work is displayed in the café area and the group get very excited about putting this on and one student even got a commission from this! I really enjoy teaching this group and the work they achieve is a tribute to what you can achieve through wanting to learn."

    Student Lindsay Finch said: "I love coming here each week. I have made lots of things and you can make anything you like. There are plenty of people to help and it really cheers me up."

    The Horley Arts & Craft Group were recently awards the Learning through Arts & Craft Award at the East Surrey College/ESC Adult Learners' Awards. They meet each Friday at Regent House in Horley, Surrey. The picture shows the group busy at work at the Regent House Community Centre in Horley.

    Click here to find a course that will unlock your potential.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Whole-life-learning.aspx Tue, 22 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Response to the UKCES skills report]]> A new report has been published which highlights the need for urgent action to improve the UK’s jobs and skills to build on the economic upturn and maximise growth.

    The report, Climbing the ladder: skills for sustainable recovery, has been produced by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). It examines the skills challenges facing the UK economy and calls on businesses and organisations which provide education and training to work together to confront these issues.

    In response to the report Ruth Spellman, CEO of the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), said: “This research highlights the need for us to urgently address the UK adult skills deficit in order to ensure long-term economic growth. Of particular concern is the number of people in Britain with few or no qualifications and those in low paid and low skilled work. Providing access to training and development opportunities to help them succeed in the workplace is vital and will pay dividends for thousands of individuals and families.

    “Lifelong learning has a crucial role to play in maintaining a skilled workforce and ensuring that individual talent does not go to waste. Adult education providers such as ours offer those with minimal academic credentials a way back into education to secure a brighter future. However, the WEA believes that employers need to be incentivised so that a culture of learning is fostered in British workplaces. Our manifesto urges the government to encourage skills development through training accounts and tax relief given to businesses for learning. We must work in partnership to tackle the adult skills deficit which has the potential to hinder the possibility of a sustainable economic recovery.”

    The report finds that three rungs on the employment ladder need repairing in order to help people get in, get on and move up in work. It notes that:

    • On the bottom rung, young people struggle to get their first job. The recession amplified youth unemployment, but did not cause it. Many young people struggle to find opportunities – like work experience or Saturday jobs – which allow them to gain the vital experience they need to help move into the world of work.

    • On the middle rung, many of those already in work face problems moving up. The jobs market is increasingly hour-glass shaped, with fewer opportunities for those in low skill jobs to progress, and less talent to choose from for those recruiting for high skill jobs.

    • On the top rung, businesses are seeing increasing problems with skills shortages, whilst at the same time many employees have skills which are not used. This mismatch inhibits productivity and growth.

    Michael Davis, chief executive of UKCES said: "The UK’s economy is growing well, but even so we still have a way to go before we can demonstrate this growth is robust and sustainable. There’s a welcome recognition that this includes developing and using the skills of the workforce to power innovation, creativity and competitiveness. We hope that this report will give businesses and those who provide workforce training some insights and clarity around this complex issue."

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Response-to-the-UKCES-skills-report.aspx Tue, 15 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Students exhibit art in Bolton]]> WEA students enrolled in a Fine Art course at the Willows Community Centre Bolton had the opportunity to exhibit their work at Bolton Central Library this summer.

    Tutor, Dani Gaines explained: "The fine art class that I deliver at the Willows Community Centre in Deane, Bolton, has been running for over two years now. It is a class delivered in partnership with the housing association Bolton at Home and targets residents and members of the local community. Some students have been attending the class from the beginning, but most have joined at some point along the way. Many of the students began the group with very little artistic skill or experience. It's surprising how many of them say they have many art materials at home that they have bought, but never had the courage to use without any support or instruction.

    "I have supported each individual's developmental journey and it's very satisfying to now see how skilled many of them are becoming in their use of materials. As the group explores different media and styles of creativity, individuals discover something that really 'clicks' for them and their confidence and skill takes off. They are able to produce something truly special, skilled and unique.

    "As they, with my encouragement and support, find their own style they also grow in confidence overall. Their social skills and confidence improve as they get to know each other and provide peer to peer feedback and support. Each person reports that attending the class has a positive effect on their health and wellbeing and as a result they feel less anxious and better able to cope with the reality of everyday life. Some have expressed that they recognise the course as ‘time for them’ where they can forget their cares and concerns and focus on their interests in a supportive environment.

    "We recently had the opportunity to use the display board in Bolton Central Library as part of an exhibition. With the help of the students from the Willows class we put up a wide selection of the art work that has been produced by the group over the past few years. The individual group members received lots of positive feedback about the high quality of the work and this has provided a further sense of achievement and source of increased self confidence for each of the students."

    To find a course that can unlock your potential, visit our course search here.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Students-exibit-art-in-Bolton.aspx Mon, 07 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The Tour de France is coming]]>

    With the Grand Depart of the Tour de France heading to Yorkshire, The Workers Educational Association (WEA) has teamed up with partners across Leeds in an arts project unlike any other, ‘The Tour de France is coming!’

    The project offered students from suburbs across Leeds a chance to interpret a poem, written by Leeds resident Katie Fabri, through art, song writing, guitar, creative writing, singing and French.

    The students’ journey has been captured and made into a short film recording their artwork, poetry and song as a legacy of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire.

    John Barker, WEA Course Programme Worker said ‘It’s been an incredible journey, the students have worked together like never before and now we’re looking forward to sharing our journey with as many people as possible.’

    The film will be shown on the big screen at Millennium Square in Leeds in the coming weeks.

    Having cycled to each of the community centres involved in the project Katie hopes ‘The buzz around the Tour de France will help others find confidence to get on their bike and explore Leeds as it has for me.’


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-Tour-de-France-is-coming.aspx Fri, 04 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[2014/15 courses now available online]]> 2014/15 Courses now available online.
    Using our online course search.

    To get a list of the WEA courses available in your area simply type in your postcode on our online course search and leave all other fields blank. You can also search for courses by course subject or by branch. Some courses have the option of booking and enrolling online.

    Contact your local WEA office or branch.

    If you can't find what you are looking for you can contact your local regional office. They will be able to put you in touch with any WEA branches that exist in your area.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/201415courses.aspx Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[IFL set to close]]> The non-executive board of the Institute for Learning (IfL) has announced its recommendation that IfL should close and that its legacy and assets should be passed to the Education and Training Foundation through a deed of gift. Subject to the proposals being ratified by member representatives of IfL’s elected Advisory Council, who have been asked to vote on 17 July 2014, IfL will begin the process of closing its operations and working with the Foundation to transfer key functions by autumn 2014.

    Sue Crowley, IfL’s elected chair, said, “IfL is currently in a sound financial position and holds surplus funds in reserve, in line with the reserves policy set out each year by the non-executive board. Following a detailed review, however, the board has concluded that without further substantial investment or alternative sources of revenue, IfL’s financial position would not be sustainable in the long term. More than anything, we wanted to ensure that the most valued aspects of IfL’s offer, the things that made IfL special, would be protected in the form of a legacy for teachers and trainers in further education and skills, and felt that it would be best to initiate an orderly wind-down of IfL and its operations.

    “IfL’s constitution stipulates that in the event of closure, any legacy should be transferred to a charitable organisation. We decided to offer the stewardship of the legacy to the Education and Training Foundation because its aims and objectives relating to the professionalism of teachers and trainers align closely with IfL’s; because it already has responsibility for professional standards in the sector: because it offers development opportunities for teachers and trainers; and because its remit extends across the entire further education and skills sector. We believe the Foundation is the organisation best placed to continue pursuing IfL’s object: ‘to promote education and training for the public benefit by the enhancement and maintenance of the quality, standards and practice of learning and teaching’.”

    IfL’s chief executive, Dr Jean Kelly, said, “It is vital that IfL members who have made a commitment to their professional practice by joining their professional body are supported and continue to have access to recognition, professional status and support. Those who have renewed their membership until 31 March 2015 will become part of the Foundation’s professional membership and will continue to receive access to continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities and support, including REfLECT, the online personal learning space.

    “IfL and the Foundation are committed to the professional status of Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS), and to ensuring that it continues to be recognised and offered to teachers and trainers in the sector. We are jointly in contact with the government to have the relevant statutory instrument amended to reflect the Foundation’s obligations. Securing parity, so that teachers with QTLS can work in school settings on the same pay and conditions as those with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), was one of IfL’s proudest achievements, and is a key part of our legacy.”

    David Russell, chief executive of the Education and Training Foundation, said, “We are delighted to be offered IfL’s legacy and welcome the opportunity of supporting teachers and trainers in their professional development and ensuring that they have a voice. We believe strongly that teaching and training in our sector should be seen as a high-status profession, and that teachers and trainers should be encouraged to exercise professional autonomy and take ownership of their CPD, in the interests of improved teaching and learning, and for the benefit of learners.

    “As the professional body, IfL has made a considerable impact on the way in which professionalism is perceived and discussed across a very diverse sector. We thank IfL for being willing to entrust to us the stewardship of its valuable legacy. We have entered into discussions with IfL with great optimism, and I am confident we will agree a transition plan that allows the Foundation to uphold and build upon IfL’s legacy in the years to come.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/IFL-set-to-close.aspx Tue, 01 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Eastern region wins accolades for adult learning]]> WEA Eastern region is celebrating after one of its projects – ESOL ONline – won both a regional and national prize at the 2014 Adult Learners' Week Awards.  Developed by WEA Technology Development Manager Adam Bracher in partnership with Unite, Britain’s largest union, the project was conceived to address two major barriers facing ESOL studies: lack of funding to run tutor-led courses and student absenteeism due to the inflexibility of regularly scheduled classes. In the first of its kind for the WEA, ESOL ONline enables students to access their studies both online and offline through USB drives giving them the freedom to access the course and materials at times which are convenient for them.

    Another cause for celebration at the Adult Learners’ Week Awards was WEA student Sam Gowler being named regional winner at the Eastern ceremony. After leaving school with no qualifications, Sam found it almost impossible to find a job.  Since enrolling on a WEA English and Maths course, Sam has gone from strength to strength. Improving his literacy and numeracy levels has made a huge difference to Sam as he can now read to his son and is confident that he will be able to help him with his school work as he gets older. With an increased appetite for knowledge, Sam is currently studying Motor Vehicle Maintenance at his local further education college as he hopes to become a mechanic one day.

    Ruth Spellman, WEA CEO, says: “A huge congratulations to everyone involved. It is clear that adult learning helps to improve the lives of our students both personally and professionally and I am so pleased to see the WEA Eastern region honoured by those within the adult education community. This success is the result of the tremendous effort made by students, tutors and colleagues across the WEA Eastern region.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Eastern-region-wins-accolades-for-adult-learning.aspx Tue, 01 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A vote for youth]]> WEA Ambassador Nigel Todd has highlighted the issues around young people voting in a letter to The Guardian.

    Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett (No wonder we whinge: Cutting benefits for young jobless people shows the political class doesn't care about our votes, 20 June) provided a powerful explanation of why so many young people are disenchanted with parliamentary politics and politicians. But the analysis needs to inform action. The chief reason why older people (like me!) get lots of attention and material benefits from politicians is because we vote. Young people, in large part, don't vote and don't even register to vote, so is it any wonder they're largely ignored? How about changing this in the runup to next year's general election? A mass voter registration campaign among young people, organised around key issues, could transform the electoral landscape. The Workers' Educational Association has been making a start on this recently, but it really needs a high-profile coalition of organisations to make a step change. Is anyone up for this?

    Nigel Todd
    Worker's Educational Association ambassador, North East Region

    The letter reflects our campaign to involve more people in the democratic process and civic society. For over 100 years, the WEA has encouraged generations of students and volunteers to become active citizens in their communities. This is part of our mission for 'a better world - equal, democratic and just'

    In the run up to the Scottish independence referendum later this year and the 2015 General Election, the WEA is encouraging more people to get involved in shaping the decisions which affect themselves and their families.

    Find out more about what we are doing and how you can help here.

    Nigel's letter can be found here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/A-vote-for-youth.aspx Thu, 26 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Work on dementia honoured]]>  

    Photo above: Shadow Health Minister Luciana Berger MP and Shaun Lever, RLBUHT Lead Dementia Practitioner, receiving his WEA award for outstanding contribution to dementia awareness

    An innovative project to support people living with dementia and their family carers was honoured at an Adult Learners’ Week ceremony in Liverpool last week. Luciana Berger, MP for Wavertree and Shadow Minister for Public Health, presented awards to those who have worked tirelessly to champion the initiative and raise awareness of the need for dementia-friendly communities across the UK.

    The project, led by the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) North West Region, would have not been possible without financial backing from Merseytravel. Funds were used to host a consultation event where representatives from over 30 local organisations looked at key issues, including a session about travel and transport. The WEA also set up dementia cafés at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust’s (RLBUHT) Costa Coffee branch and at Maggie May’s café. 

    Dementia training was delivered to volunteers, WEA staff, those working in the memory café venues and staff in the travel and transport sector such as Merseyside Police, British Transport Police and Arriva Buses.

    Ruth Spellman, Workers’ Educational Association CEO, said: “We are committed to raising awareness of this issue and believe that more can be done to ensure people living with dementia and their family carers lead healthy, happy lives.

    A combined effort is needed from organisations within the voluntary, private and public sector to support those affected by this debilitating illness. I’m proud of our work in Liverpool and hope that this successful model of working in partnership is replicated across the UK.” 

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Work-on-dementia-honoured-.aspx Wed, 25 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Matt Hancock highlights adult learning]]> Skills and Enterprise Minister, Matt Hancock, made an economic and moral case for extending adult skills and non-formal learning at a speech to Unionlearn on Monday.

    He said that addressing the urgent needs for skills for everyone, adult learners as well as school pupils, was part of a "much broader moral mission for social progress and social justice".

    Mr Hancock went on to make "the moral argument for adult skills". He said: "We do what we do to lift people’s chances to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Adult education does this and more. It takes people from being prisoners of circumstance to captains of our economic fate.

    "In a 2012 study, researchers from the LSE found adult learning was associated with gains in life-satisfaction, fewer visits to the doctor, a fall in depression, and a greater desire to find a better job. Learning embodies earned reward.  And it’s not just about money. The link between self-worth and success that you’ve earned holds true, even when you control for income.  Learning embodies that belief. Because while learning may be difficult, the rewards for applying yourself are instantaneous, far-reaching and profound."

    Ending his speech, Mr Hancock commented: "Adult education is vital. We are passionate about delivering higher standards for all, and higher expectations are all. And already we are seeing welcome progress. But there is much more to do."

    Read the full speech at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/britain-needs-a-skills-rise.

    WEA Chief Executive, Ruth Spellman, also spoke at the conference and her speech can be found here.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Matt-Hancock-highlights-adult-learning.aspx Tue, 24 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Manifesto Launched]]>  


    For the first time in its 111 year history, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) has launched a manifesto with key recommendations for the adult education sector. The move marks a return to the charity’s campaigning roots, with the aim of putting lifelong learning firmly back on the public agenda ahead of the 2015 General Election.

    We often focus on the educational outcomes of children and young people. However, with a UK adult skills shortage and an ageing population, ignoring the needs of older learners seems somewhat short-sighted. While we have seen positive signs of economic recovery in the last year, investment in human infrastructure continues to decline at an alarming rate, with the amount spent by businesses on training falling by £2.5 billion since 2011 according to the latest research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. By helping those who are unemployed to boost their skills and supporting development opportunities for those in work, adult education can help people progress into better paid and more secure work.

    Another key benefit of adult community learning is its intergenerational effect. A parent more confident in their own abilities may feel better equipped to provide greater guidance and support with their child’s studies. If education starts at home shouldn’t we take a more holistic approach? The WEA proposes that the government appoints a minister with lead responsibility for family learning to help change the lives of thousands of families caught in a cycle of deprivation.

    Ruth Spellman, WEA CEO, says: “Access to education throughout life is crucial to individuals, families, communities and workplaces. Community learning helps people reskill and offers a route back into education for those with few or no qualifications. I’ve seen the benefits of adult learning first-hand and it can make a real difference to our students and in some cases their families. Our recommendations stem from our experience and if implemented they could change many lives across Britain for the better.”

    To download the Manifesto please click here.

    To read the Manifesto online, click here. 


    Alternatively click on the key recommendations below to find out more.

    1. Ensure there is always an opportunity for adults to return to learning

    2. Promote equality, opportunity and productivity at work

    3. Develop educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged

    4. Help people stay active throughout life through health education

    5. Reduce health inequalities to give people more control over their own wellbeing

    6. Promote tolerance and inclusion through access to English

    7. Value lifelong learning so adults of any age can study

    8. Help parents become educational role models

    9. Value volunteering through a single credible set of measurements


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Manifesto-Launched.aspx Mon, 23 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Northern Ireland forced to close]]> http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Northern-Ireland-forced-to-close-after-over-100-years.aspx Mon, 09 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT en <![CDATA[WEA Annual Lecture]]>  


    For the first time in its 111 year history, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) has launched a manifesto with key recommendations for the adult education sector. The move marks a return to the charity’s campaigning roots, with the aim of putting lifelong learning firmly back on the public agenda ahead of the 2015 General Election.

    We often focus on the educational outcomes of children and young people. However, with a UK adult skills shortage and an ageing population, ignoring the needs of older learners seems somewhat short-sighted. While we have seen positive signs of economic recovery in the last year, investment in human infrastructure continues to decline at an alarming rate, with the amount spent by businesses on training falling by £2.5 billion since 2011 according to the latest research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. By helping those who are unemployed to boost their skills and supporting development opportunities for those in work, adult education can help people progress into better paid and more secure work.

    Another key benefit of adult community learning is its intergenerational effect. A parent more confident in their own abilities may feel better equipped to provide greater guidance and support with their child’s studies. If education starts at home shouldn’t we take a more holistic approach? The WEA proposes that the government appoints a minister with lead responsibility for family learning to help change the lives of thousands of families caught in a cycle of deprivation.

    Ruth Spellman, WEA CEO, says: “Access to education throughout life is crucial to individuals, families, communities and workplaces. Community learning helps people reskill and offers a route back into education for those with few or no qualifications. I’ve seen the benefits of adult learning first-hand and it can make a real difference to our students and in some cases their families. Our recommendations stem from our experience and if implemented they could change many lives across Britain for the better.”

    To download the Manifesto please click here.

    To read the Manifesto online, click here. 


    Alternatively click on the key recommendations below to find out more.

    1. Ensure there is always an opportunity for adults to return to learning

    2. Promote equality, opportunity and productivity at work

    3. Develop educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged

    4. Help people stay active throughout life through health education

    5. Reduce health inequalities to give people more control over their own wellbeing

    6. Promote tolerance and inclusion through access to English

    7. Value lifelong learning so adults of any age can study

    8. Help parents become educational role models

    9. Value volunteering through a single credible set of measurements


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Annual-Lecture.aspx Mon, 09 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Tour de France 2014]]> Gearing up for the Tour de France heading to Yorkshire, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) has teamed up with partners across Leeds in an arts project unlike any other – ‘The Tour de France is coming!’

    The project offered students from suburbs across Leeds a chance to interpret a poem, written by Leeds resident Katie Fabri, through art, song and poetry. 

    The students’ journey has been captured and made into a short film recording their artistic contributions as a legacy of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire. 

    John Barker, WEA Course Programme Worker said: “It’s been an incredible experience, the students have worked together like never before and now we’re looking forward to sharing our journey with as many people as possible.”

    The film will be shown on the big screen at Millennium Square in Leeds in the coming weeks. Having cycled to each of the community centres involved in the project Katie hopes ‘the buzz around the Tour de France will help others find confidence to get on their bike and explore Leeds as it has for me.’

    To watch the video, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcSyZ_KKYnw

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Tour-de-France-2014.aspx Mon, 09 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[New campaign launch]]>

    The WEA’s new campaign ‘Women Overcoming Disadvantage’ was launched at a conference in Nottingham on Wednesday 4 June.

    Over 50 delegates attended the event, with guest speakers including Dr Finn Mackay (WEA Ambassador and founder of the London Feminist Network), Ruth Spellman (WEA CEO), Dr Anita Franklin (University of Sheffield), Cheryl Turner (NIACE) and several others.

    Ruth Spellman set the tone for the day, by asking the question, "Why aren't we focussing on women's education? What's holding us back?"

    Debates kicked off with a series of insightful talks discussing the extent of gender inequality in the UK. Key issues such as lack of childcare and unaffordable fees were highlighted as being a major barrier to women’s education and Dr Franklin called for action to address the ever worsening problem. “This education system is geared up to tell women, too bad go home!"

    Following on were a series of workshops on women and poverty, women’s campaigns on social media, domestic violence and more.

    To follow the day’s events on Twitter, search for #WOD 

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/New-campaign-launch.aspx Fri, 06 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Geoffrey Mitchell]]> Many people in the WEA and beyond will be saddened to learn that Geoffrey Mitchell has died at the age of 85.

    Adult education was an integral part of Geoffrey’s life. He enjoyed recounting his experiences of attending WEA courses as a child alongside his parents and, professionally, he built on his early love of learning to become the director of Sheffield University’s department of Adult Continuing Education. He was a lifelong learner, educator and advocate for education, especially for those most at risk of exclusion. He was active in promoting women’s education, culture, arts and critical action learning.

    Geoffrey was a dedicated WEA volunteer, serving on various committees where we welcomed his quiet authority, practical experience and his considered contributions to situations that could have caused conflict rather than debate.

    He played an important role in the governance of the WEA’s former Yorkshire South District, particularly during the process of its merger with Yorkshire North to form the current Yorkshire and Humber Region. His measured and informed approaches to educational, financial and governance issues in the early days of the fledgling region were greatly valued. Geoffrey also served at Association level as a member of the National Executive Committee until 2005.

    We send condolences to Geoffrey’s wife Claudine, who has written an obituary in the Guardian.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Geoffrey-Mitchell.aspx Thu, 29 May 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Have you voted?]]> Voting open until 10pm on 22 May.

    To find out why you should vote, visit www.wea.org.uk/whyvote.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Have-you-voted.aspx Thu, 22 May 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Adler Memorial Lecture]]> Dr Lawrence Goldman gave the Adler Memorial Lecture at Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education on Thursday 15th May, to an audience of WEA members, students and friends.

    The lecture on the death of liberal England looked at social change in the early part of the 20th century and gave a picture of the effect on workers organisation, women’s suffrage and Irish demands for independence. A summary transcript of the lecture will be available soon.

    Dr Goldman recently wrote the definitive biography of R.H. Tawney, who fought with great bravery in the First World War and was active in the establishment of the WEA and its development over the next 50 years.

    Dr Goldman has been appointed as director of the Institute for Historical Research at the University of London and is also a new WEA Ambassador, keen to work with us on future events.

    If you would like to borrow a copy of the book, please contact Anushka Kandola in the WEA MVM team at akandola@wea.org.uk


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Adler-Memorial-Lecture.aspx Thu, 22 May 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Women overcoming disadvantage]]> Learning from the past, Looking to the future  

    4th June 2014, ICCA, Hucknall Road, Nottingham

    10am registration 10.30 start to 16:00 finish

    Free crèche and lunch included – advance booking for crèche essential.

    Contact Hanna Liljeberg to book your place now at hliljeberg@wea.org.uk or by phone on 01332 291805

    Price: £50 for supporting partners. Free to WEA staff, tutors and local partners 

    This conference will launch the national WEA Women Overcoming Disadvantage campaign for 2014.

    Conference Aim:


    Outcomes: As a result of attending the conference participants will be able to:

    • Define the skills and knowledge needed by learning practitioners to deliver the women’s learning programme model
    • Identify what difference the women’s learning programme model makes to students and society
    • Share and consider ways to embed equality, diversity and social purpose education within women’s learning provision


    10:00: Registration and coffee

    10:30: Dr Finn Mackay Chair Welcome and aims for the day

    10:35: Mel Lenehan, WEA Strategic Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

    10:40: Ruth Spellman, WEA Chief Executive and General Secretary - Women Overcoming Disadvantage, Past, Present and Future

    10:50: Dr Finn Mackay, Feminist Activist and WEA Ambassador – Putting the radical back into women’s education

    11:05: Dr Anita Franklin, University of Sheffield, Women’s History, Community Education and Difference

    11:20: Cheryl Turner, NIACE, Women’s Learning and role in the future of community learning

    11.35: Coffee break

    11:50: Baroness Frances D’Souza, Lord Speaker House of Lords

    12:05: Question time - Questions for the panel

    12:30: Women’s Learning Past, Present and Future

    13:00: Chair summary

    13:15: Lunch

    14:00 to 14:45 Workshops Ist Sessions:

    NB these workshops are aimed at practitioners

    1. Black Women’s History Project - WEA North East

    2. Better for Everyone: Embedding EDI – Karen Chouhan

    3. Consciousness Raising: The method and impact of Women Only Learning – Jill Arnold

    4. Domestic violence, vulnerable women and women’s learning - Ros Forsey

    5. Never Just a Woman, Diversity in Women’s Learning – Catina Barratt

    14:45 to 14:55 – move to next workshop

    14:55 to 15:40 Workshops 2




    1. WLP, Women’s student groups and branches - how to set one up and what difference does it make - Sharing practice

    2. Social media, networking and online learning for marginalised groups / multiple strand Jan Ball

    3. Women and Poverty - Understanding poverty and Overcoming Disadvantage through Education, Clare Caves and Judith Higgins

    4. Consciousness Raising: The method and impact of Women Only Learning – Jill Arnold

    The WEA and partners are involved in a range of project, courses and campaigns which support the Women Overcoming Disadvantage campaign and we invite you to join with us to learn about good practice from the past, present and into the future.

    The WEA has a particular approach to women’s learning as embodied in the Women’s Learning Programme. The programme is taught by women for women. The Women’s Learning Programme goes beyond a women only space, although this is an important element of the model. Each unit uses a method of critical consciousness raising, and embeds an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and social purpose education approach.


    To inform and mobilise learning practitioners to support Women Overcoming Disadvantage and the Women’s Learning Programme across England and beyond. Programme








    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Women-overcoming-disadvantage.aspx Wed, 14 May 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The role of cities in economic growth]]> Newcastle City Futures: People, Place, Change

    An Exhibition of Newcastle's Built Heritage

    23 May - 10 June, 10.30am - 4.30pm, The Guildhall, Newcastle, Quayside, NE1 3AF, Free Entry

    Newcastle City Futures is a high-profile, multi-media exhibition and events series that features evocative imagery of Newcastle’s built heritage from the past, present and future.

    Exploring change and renewal over the past 75 years the exhibition investigates why the city looks as it does today, reveals ‘unbuilt’ plans that could have changed the way we live, and focuses on the human stories built heritage can share. Inviting audiences to re-discover Newcastle’s rich architectural past, the exhibition also looks to the future, and will launch and debate key plans and frameworks that will shape Newcastle and its communities for the coming years.

    As part of the event, the WEA is organising a presentation by Lord John Shipley MBE on "The Role of Cities in Economic Growth and Well-Being".

    Lord Shipley is a member of the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords and was leader of Newcastle City Council from 2006-2010.He has lived and worked in Newcastle for over 40 years,and will draw on his role as Government Advisor on Cities and his recent appointment to advise on the Local Growth Deals in his discussion of the role of cities in economic growth and wellbeing.

    The lecture will be on Tuesday, 27 May at 6pm. All welcome.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-role-of-cities-in-economic-growth.aspx Fri, 02 May 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Are you registered to vote?]]> Since 1903 WEA tutors have worked with people in communities across the country developing generations of students and volunteers as active citizens. This year, in the run up to the European and local elections, WEA is launching a Deciding Locally Campaign to encourage people to engage in local decision making and democracy.

    High profile figures such as George Ferguson - the first elected Mayor of Bristol, Baroness D’ Souza - Lord Speaker from the House of Lords and Dr Finn Mackay - founder of the London Feminist Network, feature in WEA ‘Why Vote?’ films, discussing the importance of democracy and the right to vote in the UK.

    Register to vote by 6 May if you want to take part in this year's European and local elections

    To launch the campaign, writer and activist Dr Henry Tam, hosted a WEA Tweet hour. To view the converstation, please click here.

    WEA tutors are already incorporating aspects of the campaign into the classroom. Lorraine Kerr took her ESOL students on a visit to the People’s History Museum in Manchester where students learned about the Suffrage Movement. Mischa Roque from Bristol held a classroom debate on UK democracy and how reforms to the system could make voting fairer.

    To support social purpose education, WEA will be piloting a ‘Why Vote?’ community action research course in several cities across the country and the resources will be available online for everyone to use.

    Interview with Baroness D'Souza, Lord Speaker of the House of Lords

    Interview with George Ferguson, first directly elected Mayor of Bristol


    Interview with Dr Finn Mackay, Founder of the London Feminist Network

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Have-you-registered-to-vote.aspx Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Share your WEA South West memories]]> The Workers’ Educational Association is celebrating its South West centenary by tracing its local roots and taking people on a journey into its past. The 'A Heritage of Learning' project recently received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will be an excellent opportunity for those curious about local history to find out about the charity's origins.

    Running from March 2014 to December 2015 the project will follow the early history of WEA in the South West, through to our ongoing contribution in the modern day.

    Were you a former tutor or student in the South West? Do you have a memory to tell or can you help us fill in the WEA South West story? Either way we would love to hear from you. We are interested in: tutor and student recollections; people, events, and places to celebrate; facts & figures to use in our regional exhibition; or anything else you'd like to share for the project.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/sharememories.aspx Wed, 09 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Adler Memorial Lecture]]> The WEA’s Adler Memorial Lecture is to be given by the eminent historian, Dr Lawrence Goldman, well known for his appearances on BBC programmes including ‘In Our Time’ and ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Lawrence has had a long association with the WEA in Oxford and his recent biography of R.H.Tawney has been very well received. The Lecture is part of the WEA’s World War 1 series and will explore the social context of the period before the outbreak of war. Lawrence will discuss elements of the Edwardian crisis before the First World War under the title "The Strange Death of Liberal England?"


    Book below, or visit our eventbrite page at by clicking here.




    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Adler-Memorial-Lecture.aspx Mon, 07 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Students Raise Money for Disaster Relief]]> During an Improve your Skills course for adults with learning difficulties, a small group of learners researched the Haiyan typhoon in the Philippines. The group looked at the impact and the effect the typhoon has had on local people. After delivering their findings to the group, the group then asked if there was anything they could do to help. After some negotiation and a vote, the group decided to do a sponsored walk.

    Sponsorship forms were designed and posters put up around Lea Hall in Rugeley with some students explaining what they intended to other groups.

    During one of these talks, on student Jerry explained he was a member of the local voluntary group and he gave presentations on the ‘green box’ charity, ShelterBox. He then came in and showed the group what was in the box and how the system worked. The group then decided to donate their money to this cause. They raised £300 for a one hour walk around the pitch in which everyone participated. The group of learners then wrote some letters to Jerry thanking him and presented the money to Jerry. A bar code will be forwarded at some point and the group will be able to track their box and see who they have helped, which they are looking forward to doing!.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/LDD-students-raise-money-for-disaster-relief.aspx Thu, 03 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Levelling Out the Democratic Deficit]]>

    The annual Levellers Day celebration will be held on 17 May 2014 from 11am in Burford, Oxfordshire. This year, the title is "Levelling out the Democratic Deficit".

    Confirmed speakers include Frances O'Grady, Paul Mackney, Ellie Mae O'Hagan and Simon Woolley.

    To find out more, visit the event's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/levellersday.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Levelling-Out-the-Democratic-Deficit.aspx Tue, 01 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Volunteer to Run London Marathon]]> A WEA volunteer is looking for help reaching her fundraising target for her second London Marathon on April 14th this year.

    Anne Davies first learned how to run a half marathon with a WEA course nearly four years ago and since then has been unstoppable. She has run thousands of miles for good causes, as well as encouraging other people to take their first steps into running. She often wins medals for achieving the best times in her "veteran" age category and is an inspiration to all of us within the WEA CHEST project.

    She says "I wanted to raise funds for Child Bereavement UK for a second year because they need more people to know that they are there for families at a time of tragedy. They don't just support parents and siblings, but also grandparents and wider families. Your support helps them to keep going, providing support and resources for people when they need it the most."

    Anne will be joining famous names including Mo Farah in one of the most famous marathons in the world. If you feel able to support Anne, please visit her page and also share with friends and colleagues: https://www.justgiving.com/AnneLondon14.

    To support the WEA, please visit our donate page at http://www.wea.org.uk/donate.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Volunteer-to-run-London-Marathon.aspx Wed, 26 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Budget 2014]]>

    In response to the 2014 Budget, Ruth Spellman, CEO of the Workers' Educational Association (WEA), said: "We are pleased to see the Chancellor's investment in apprenticeships. The additional £85 million funding will be a lifeline for many seeking to kick-start or rejuvenate their careers. Apprenticeships serve as a vital means of equipping people with the skills they need to successfully compete in the labour market."

    "Furthermore, while growth projections look promising over the short term, it is clear that low business investment and productivity will continue to hamper the economy until we address the UK's skills gap. Worryingly, the recent UKCES Employer Survey revealed that the amount spent by businesses on training has fallen by £2.5 billion since 2011, so we were disappointed that the Chancellor did not do more to improve the incentives on offer for training and development.

    "Britain has years of catching up to do and investing in staff training is a key part of building capacity in the economy. The WEA will be calling for tax relief for businesses who invest in the education and training of their workforce. The importance of adult learning is all too often underestimated - it can instil confidence, improve employability and ensure that individuals are fully prepared for the demands of the workplace."

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Budget-2014.aspx Fri, 21 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Tony Benn: 1925 - 2014]]> Labour campaigner and former cabinet minister Tony Benn has died.

    Tony Benn showed lifelong commitment to Workers’ Education, being a regular contributor to Levellers Day over a period of 25 years. Within the last month he had agreed to an interview as part of the WEA’s Deciding Locally campaign but sadly had to cancel due to his ill health. 

    Click here to view the BBC obituary.

    This year’s Levellers Day event, which takes place on Saturday 17 May in Burford, Oxfordshire, will doubtless be a tribute to Tony Benn. This year the theme of the day is “Levelling Out the Democratic Deficit” - to find out more visit the Levellers Day facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/levellersday

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Tony-Benn.aspx Fri, 14 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Take the Numeracy Challenge]]> The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) is supporting a new campaign which will help boost levels of adult numeracy across the UK. The 2014 National Numeracy Challenge encourages everyone to test their abilities and offers guidance for those who would like to brush up on their maths skills. The campaign is expected to help just over one million people who struggle with the subject.

    The launch follows a wealth of research pointing to poor levels of numeracy in Britain. Worryingly, the recent OECD skills survey showed that out of 24 nations, England and Northern Ireland rank in joint 16th position for adult numeracy. Furthermore, research published by the charity National Numeracy this week has revealed the negative impact of this skills deficit. It is estimated that poor adult numeracy is costing the UK economy a staggering £20 billion a year.

    The WEA is supporting the National Numeracy Challenge as we believe that everyone in the UK is capable of building their confidence and competence with maths. There is much to be gained, both personally and professionally, for those seeking to improve their numeracy skills.

    Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, says: "The National Numeracy Challenge is a courageous and much needed initiative with a long term and farsighted goal – to reach a million adults over the next five years and to give them the practical support to improve their numeracy skills. We are delighted to support the challenge and will be asking our students and supporters to participate. Numeracy is a core skill which affects everyone in their day-to-day lives".

    Click here to take the test

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Take-the-Numeracy-Challenge.aspx Wed, 12 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Women Overcoming Disadvantage]]>

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Women-Overcoming-Disadvantage.aspx Mon, 10 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Learn Online]]> WEA Eastern Region has launched a range of online resources to help everyone in the WEA get to grips with the digital domain. Following a successful pilot which saw more than 5,000 visits to their online Medieval Medicine course, they have expanded their online offer to include short 'Digital Surgery' webinars, and a chat forum to support students and tutors, all at www.wealearnonline.org.

    Whether you're flustered by Facebook, terrified of twitter, or simply confused by computers altogether, there’s a Digital Surgery for you. All the webinars are recorded, so if you can’t attend the live broadcast, you can watch back at a convenient time. The Region is also running a What do you want to learn? survey, giving people the opportunity to suggest either a Digital Surgery or a longer course. Adam Bracher, WEA Eastern Region's Technology Development Manager, said:

    "Technology and the web can be hugely useful to us in our everyday lives, from ordering shopping to taking online courses. But with so many devices and applications – and valid concerns over online safety – the digital world can also be overwhelming. Our aim is to demystify it and make it accessible to everyone, so we have a range of new online tools available, all completely free of charge. Up to 100 people can join a webinar, and there’s no travel time or cost; all you need is a computer and internet connection."

    The Digital Surgery webinars are fortnightly on Mondays at 1pm and Thursdays at 8pm, and appear as an archived recording a few days later. Discussion of the topics continues afterwards on the Learn Online Forum, via dedicated message threads.
    For more information, contact Adam Bracher at abracher@wea.org.uk

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Learn-Online.aspx Thu, 06 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Celebrating International Woman's Day]]> International Women's Day on 8 March 2014 is once again being celebrated across the UK by the WEA.

    In the West Midlands, the 30th Anniversary of the beginning of the Miners’ Strike is being remembered at a conference for International Women’s Day will celebrate and reflect upon the contribution that women made in communities up until to the closure of the last pit in North Staffordshire. For more information on the event, which is being held on 7 March being held in Stoke on Trent, please visit the website here.

    London region is also holding a lecture on 6 March on "A History of Action by Women Workers" from Liz Leciester. To find out more and book tickets, plese visit the London website here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Celebrating-International-Womans-Day.aspx Fri, 28 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[End Racism This Generation]]> Did you know that young black people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed compared to young white people in the UK? Did you know that the police stop and search black people at seven times the rate of white people? Did you know that almost half of all Bangladeshi and Pakistani workers in the UK earn less than £7 an hour?

    Sadly, racism and race inequality are still big problems in the UK: your ethnic background still significantly impacts your life chances. And it’s not just that people from minority ethnic backgrounds tend to be poorer – there are solid facts that show specific racial discrimination.

    The Runnymede Trust, the UK’s leading independent race equality thinktank, is collecting pledges for specific actions by individuals, organisations and businesses and sharing them widely as part of their End Racism This Generation campaign.

    The WEA is delighted to announce that we have made our pledge, which says:

    The WEA pledges to spread the word about the End Racism this Generation campaign through our networks both internally and externally. We will continue to develop as an organisation to ensure racism is challenged in our classrooms and our workplaces. We are committed to supporting all students, staff and volunteers to achieve their maximum potential.

    If you would like to make your own pledge, please visit the End Racism this Generation website or contact Mel Lenehan, Strategic Lead for Equality and Diversity, at mlenehan@wea.org.uk.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/End-Racism-this-Generation.aspx Mon, 17 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Rekindling the artist within]]> "My name is Jane Smith; I am 39 years old and married with 3 children. I am a full time carer at home for my middle child who has a severe learning disability and epilepsy. I‘d always been interested in art and originally joined the WEA at an art circle. It was nice to meet new people and share tips. Initially I attended for the social aspect of the circle but when the circle became an art class I started to appreciate the tutorial also. I was encouraged to use different art materials to produce pieces of art and this improved my technique. 

    "I’ve since become interested in looking at art and I’ve visited numerous local galleries and also visited some on holiday. My interest has also had an impact on my family, my husband is enjoying visits to the galleries and my youngest child is interested in all the art books I’ve collected.

    "My confidence in my own abilities continues to improve and I’ve recently been asked to submit some illustrations for a children’s book. I’m hoping to have a local exhibition in the future and continue to improve my skills, techniques and subject range by attending more art classes with the WEA."

    Jane Smith (WEA Student)

    If you have been inspired by Jane's story and would like to find out what the WEA can offer you, you can search for a course in your area or find out how other ways you can get involved

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Rekindling-the-artist-within.aspx Mon, 10 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Great Family Learning]]> The WEA welcomes the NIACE & Ofsted Joint Project: Illuminating Excellent Practice in Family Learning which complements the Association’s own campaign to promote the value of education for parents.

    The WEA was founded in an era when compulsory education had only recently been raised to the age of 11 by adults who understood that their access to education was critical to a more equal society – an educated democracy. The WEA quickly grew in working class communities as adults demanded the chance to study and debate issues concerning them. Today to WEA is still committed to the idea that education belongs to the individual (not the state) and that fostering it through families, communities and workplaces is vital to a successful society.

    Delivering on that commitment today means providing educational opportunities in disadvantaged communities that resonate with adults living there. One of these is the aspiration of parents and carers for their children to succeed in education. They know that, even today, good education is a route out of poverty and builds the confidence for a successful and fulfilled life. They value local schools and children’s centres as vital community resources.

    In most cases, these adults begin their classes with little idea of what it might lead to for themselves. However, their own return to education can quickly restore their own confidence and aspirations. Many resume their own education and make progress, setting an example to their children at the same time. The WEA has seen countless parents move on to volunteering and work – often in support of local schools and children’s centres. This process has been happening for more than two decades in some of the most disadvantaged communities in England.

    Genuine partnership working is the key to this approach. In many neighbourhoods across the country the WEA has longstanding relationships with schools and local services that are meeting the needs of families. By making a commitment to this work nationally and combining it with great local practice, the WEA continues its social purpose mission today.
    However, the need to promote educational success for disadvantaged families is as critical as ever. The WEA supports the recommendations of the NIACE Commission of Inquiry into Family Learning and calls upon schools and government departments to promote the use of resources such as the pupil premium to increase the involvement of parents in learning in schools. It also supports moves by Ofsted to include the assessment of family learning and parent involvement in its inspections of schools and pre-school provision.

    Watch three WEA students from Basildon, Tammy Spriggs, Lisa Harrington and Janine Ginno, explain how education has helped change their lives and the lives of their children.



    To find out more about how you can help the WEA deliver more life-changing stories in schools across the UK, please visit our donate to our Family Learning Appeal 2013.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Great-Family-Learning.aspx Fri, 07 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Why Vote?]]> The WEA has democratic engagement at the heart of its mission.

    With the forthcoming local and European elections in May WEA Ambassador, Dr Finn Mackay, has recorded a 10 minute interview explaining why she thinks everyone should all vote.


    If you would like to register to vote, we have also produced this short animation and if you'd like to find out more please visit our voter registration pages here.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Why-Vote.aspx Thu, 06 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Register to Vote]]>

    Interview with Baroness D'Souza, Lord Speaker of the House of Lords

    For over 100 years, the WEA has encouraged generations of students and volunteers to become active citizens in their communities. This is part of our mission for 'a better world - equal, democratic and just'

    In the run up to the Scottish independence referendum later this year and the 2015 General Election, the WEA is encouraging more people to get involved in shaping the decisions which affect themselves and their families.

    The WEA launched its "Deciding Locally" campaign on 22 April with a Tweet with Dr Henry Tam, Director (Forum for Youth Participation and Democracy) at the University of Cambridge. Click here to view the full discussion.

    WEA tutors are already incorporating aspects of the campaign into the classroom. Lorraine Kerr took her ESOL students on a visit to the People’s History Museum in Manchester where students learned about the Suffrage Movement. Mischa Roque from Bristol held a classroom debate on UK democracy and how reforms to the system could make voting fairer.

    To support social purpose education, WEA will be piloting a ‘Why Vote?’ community action research course in several cities across the country and the resources will be available online for everyone to use.

    High profile figures such as George Ferguson - the first elected Mayor of Bristol, Baroness D’ Souza - Lord Speaker from the House of Lords and Dr Finn Mackay - founder of the London Feminist Network, have also featured in WEA ‘Why Vote?’ films, discussing the importance of democracy and the right to vote in the UK.

    Watch the videos below to find out more. 

    For information and resources to help you bring more activitism into your communities, please email national@wea.org.uk or support our campaign through social media using the #whyvote hashtag.

    Interview with George Ferguson, first directly elected Mayor of Bristol


    Interview with Dr Finn Mackay, Founder of the London Feminist Network


    Are you registered to vote?

    If you would like to register to vote, please visit the Electoral Commission website at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk or watch our step-by-step guide here.

    If you’re already a registered voter, what about your friends and family? Could you encourage them to register too? There are lots of people who haven’t thought about registering – or may not be aware that they can't influence what happens in their local elections, without registering to vote.

    To support our campaign, sign up below.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Register-to-Vote.aspx Wed, 05 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[UKCES Skills Survey published]]> The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has today published its Employer Skills Survey for 2013. The report, which is the largest of its kind in the world, shows a worsening shortage of skills that could risk the UK’s economic recovery.

    The study said that employers have found it hard to get employees with core skills such as communication, literacy and numeracy. At the same time, investment by businesses in skills training has declined by £2.5bn since 2011.

    Commenting on the report, which can be downloaded here, Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA said:

    “The report highlights the dearth of adult literacy and numeracy skills in the UK. Over the past few months, we have seen a gradual recovery in business investment and GDP. However this survey shows that investment in human infrastructure continues to decline, with the amount spent by businesses on training falling by £2.5 billion since 2011.

    "Failure to invest in staff training and development will ultimately hamper the possibility of a sustainable economic recovery. Businesses are already saying they are struggling to find employees with basic numeracy and literacy skills. A joint effort must be made by employers and individuals to ensure that we have the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in the international job market."

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/UKCES-Skills-Survey-published.aspx Thu, 30 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Ofsted rates WEA 'Good']]> Ofsted, the official regulator of standards in schools and colleges in England, has rated the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) “Good” in all areas of inspection.

    The WEA is the UK’s largest provider of adult community learning, delivering “stimulating and interesting sessions” to a “broad cultural mix” of over 74,000 students.

    The report by Ofsted highlighted that “many students benefit from programmes that give them the knowledge, skills and confidence to volunteer within their community” and that the WEA helps “improve the life chances of disadvantaged communities and individuals” across England. It also said that students “improve their personal, social and employability skills as a result of attending classes”.

    Ofsted’s inspection praised the organisation for skilfully managing good education over a large area and in a multitude of community settings. It states that “a key strength of the organisation has been, and continues to be, the strong historical bond that exists between employees and volunteer members of the organisation”.

    In welcoming the report, Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, said:

    “I am delighted Ofsted has independently confirmed that we give high quality support to help students back into learning as well as take advanced courses, seize cultural opportunities and develop work-related skills.

    “The WEA may be over 100 years old but is still as relevant today as ever. Our research shows 71 per cent of students in work gained skills that could be used in a job, while 75 per cent of those unemployed felt more confident about finding a job in the future. 93 per cent also said courses helped them make new friends. We are helping to change lives and inspire communities across the country, which is vital for our economy and society.

    “The WEA is the only national adult education provider and has classes in over 95 per cent of local authority areas, with four times more students than the biggest outstanding provider in the further education and skills sector. We are committed to bringing great teaching and learning into every local community. We know education can transform lives and this report is a tremendous boost for our students, tutors, volunteers and staff across the country.”

    Click here to download a full copy of the report.



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Ofsted-rate-WEA-Good.aspx Thu, 23 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Europe-wide lifelong learning policy]]> SOLIDAR, a European network of NGOs working to advance social justice in Europe and worldwide, has launched a new briefing paper “Empowering people through non-formal and informal learning”, defining the practical approach to Building Learning Societies. The briefing paper highlights how non-formal and informal learning in a community-based setting actively combats the challenges our societies face today – and empowers people to fully participate in society in a democratic, social, economic and cultural way in order to find new pathways for the future.

    The lasting economic crisis has a severe impact on European societies. More and more people are excluded, making their active inclusion longer and full of obstacles. These groups include young adults who are neither in employment, education or training (NEETs), migrants, school drop-outs and people living in exhaustive poverty. It is estimated that close to 120 million people in Europe are already living in poverty – or are exposed to the risk of falling into poverty.

    In the brief, effective and innovative examples of activities carried out by SOLIDAR members are included, as well as a number of policy recommendations needed to support the process of building inclusive learning societies:

    Within the framework of the European Semester Process, take concrete steps towards better access to education and training by proposing measures that promote participation in lifelong learning:

    • Promote the recognition of skills, competencies and knowledge acquired through non-formal and informal learning within society and at the workplace – and promote a common understanding among different stakeholders
    • Work to set up national validation mechanisms, by 2018, for recognising the learning outcomes of non-formal and informal learning that enable the empowerment and participation of the most vulnerable
    • Develop measures for fighting unemployment and for supporting young adults who are neither in employment, education or training (NEETs), by offering inclusive labour market opportunities – including lifelong learning as a given part of any and all labour market policies
    • Create “learner friendly environments” that meet all learning needs and learning styles, giving special attention to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups – in order to achieve active, inclusion and social cohesion

    To read all recommendations and the full briefing, click here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Europe-wide-lifelong-learning-policy.aspx Mon, 20 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Stars collaborate with the WEA]]> This Monday, WEA music students in Wendover will be treated to top notch coaching from world renowned and BAFTA award winning musicians!

    The course entitled, ‘An insight into the Modern Music Industry,’ will be taught by a series of famous singers and songwriters including; Jonathan Allen, who won a BAFTA for producing music for Les Miserables, BAFTA nominee Dom Beken (composer and producer for the BBC, Channel 4, Sky, Sony, EMI and Universal), Juliet Russell (singer and voice coach to the stars, including Paloma Faith, Seal, Ringo Star and Bon Jovi), Emma Bates (cello player) and Marcus Bates (French horn player).

    The musicians will be offering their skills and expertise in true community spirit, simply because they believe in the WEA’s learning for life ethic!

    This exciting course came to fruition due to the hard work and dedication of WEA Great Missenden, Prestwood and Wendover branch volunteers, who work tirelessly throughout the year to promote courses and recruit students and tutors.

    Luckily places are still available for those who wish to enrol. Please contact David Wightman on 01494 863549 to secure a place.  


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Stars-collaborate-with-the-WEA.aspx Fri, 17 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Community Development Conference]]> The newly created Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies at Goldsmiths is hosting a community development conference on the theme of ’Communities surviving, striving, thriving? A day of dialogue and action’. It will take place at Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross on Thursday, February 20th, 2014, 09.30 am to 4.30 pm.

    The WEA London Region will be presenting a workshop on adult education and community engagement.

    Check out the conference information, the list of all the workshops and panelists, and the programme details on the website here.

    Register online, places are going fast!

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Community-Development-Conference.aspx Wed, 15 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Happy New Year]]> Best wishes for 2014 from the WEA.

    Why not visit our course search and see what new things you can learn this year from the UK's largest voluntary sector provider of adult education.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Happy-New-Year.aspx Mon, 06 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Spelin? Speling? Spelling?]]> Need help to improve your spelling? 

    Students in the Leicester WEA 101 Branch Spelling Workshop realised that they did. 

    They have been working with WEA tutor, Ros Taylor, to brush up on their skills.

    If you would like to know more, call 0116 255 6614 to book on to the next Spelling Workshop starting on Monday 13 January, 12.30 pm

    Cathy is joined by Helen Salisbury, Programme organiser (left) and Ros Taylor (right).  Cathy proudly added that she has recently passed Entry 2 Functional Skills in maths.


    Laura Johnson receives her certificate. Both mother and daughter attend the same class!

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Spelin-Speling-Spelling.aspx Fri, 20 Dec 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Mining the Institute]]> The Workers’ Educational Association in the North East is offering its members the chance to get involved in a unique project in Newcastle. The WEA is a partner in the ‘Mining the Institute’ project which aims to celebrate the history of the Institute for Mining in the city and also plan for a new and re-invigorated future. The historic and fascinating Neville Hall building is being opened up to WEA members with opportunities to be shown how to search its extensive archives and share in the rich history of the Institute. Although the building is rooted firmly in Newcastle, the miners, engineers and their families spread across the world and created an international legacy that is only just being recognised.

    A programme of visits, lectures and day schools is now in full swing and WEA members are very welcome to join in. An Open Evening for WEA members will be held on Tuesday 14 January 2014.

    For more information, go to www.mininginstitute.org.uk or contact Paula Baxter (pbaxter@wea.org.uk or 0191 2126100) for details of the WEA’s role in the project.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Mining-the-Institute.aspx Tue, 17 Dec 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[John McGarrigle - A Tribute]]> On 30th November 2013, we woke to the terrible news of the police helicopter accident in Glasgow. Amongst the nine people who lost their lives, was John McGarrigle who was an active member of the WEA. John's funeral takes place in Glasgow today.
    The following tribute was written by WEA Scotland Ambassador and former Scottish Secretary Joyce Connon.


    Poet John McGarrigle was sitting in his usual seat in the Clutha on that Friday evening, when the unthinkable happened, a helicopter crashed through the roof, with tragic consequences for so many people.   John was a regular in the Clutha, which was a Glasgow city centre venue for folk music fans and writers.   Only a few weeks before, it had been the location for a farewell gathering in honour of writer Janet Shepherd who, like John, was introduced to writing through a local WEA Writers’ Workshop.
    John was a stalwart of the WEA Castlemilk Project, which, between 1984 and 1994, offered a rich range of adult education experiences drawing on culture, heritage and creativity in support an urban regeneration initiative in Castlemilk, one of Europe’s biggest social housing estates.  The Project left a lasting legacy in publications like the Big Flit the stories of people moving from the inner-city to the modern housing estate and trying to build a new community and the Incomplete History of Castlemilk.
    John’s first encountered the Writers’ Workshop in Castlemilk when he offered to be the eyes of a friend, a member of the writers’ group, who was blind and felt uncomfortable presenting his work because he could not see the members’ reaction to his writing.    John’s friend left the group after few weeks but John stayed on.   He talked about the stick he got from his mates. “Working-class men don’t go to writing classes.”  Despite the ribbing his commitment to the group grew.   Over the years, the group published several volumes of their work, they organised readings and events and enjoyed support from established Glasgow writer, Liz Lockhead later to be Scotland’s Makar.
    At the time the WEA was supporting a growing movement of working people finding their voice, recording their experiences and expressing their creativity through writing.   John participated in a Federation of Scottish Writers’ Workshops ‘Come All Ye’, a weekend event at Newbattle Abbey College, Scotland’s only residential Adult Education College.  Here he met with and shared his work with writers from around Scotland.
    He attended the WEA Edinburgh Festival Fringe Summer School, staying at Edinburgh University’s Pollock Halls, seeing a wide range of official festival and fringe events and meeting writers, directors, performers.   His enthusiasm for the experiences the school offered was infectious.   The morning after seeing a dance presentation of the Temptations of Dr Faustus, John delighted in telling everyone that he had breakfast with Lust, as the members of the Dance Theatre Company were also staying at Pollock Halls.
    Through his engagement with the Castlemilk Project, John was elected to the WEA West of Scotland District Committee during the difficult time when the merger of the three Scottish Districts was under negotiation.   Following the merger, he became the first Chairman of the new WEA Glasgow Local Association, playing an important role in ensuring the work of the Association in the city continued under the new structure. 
    By the time the Castlemilk Project came to an end, John and two other members of the Writers’ Workshop had gained places at Glasgow University, where John graduated with an Arts Degree. 
    Although he moved around a bit, John was a Glasgow poet who wrote about the city as he saw it.   His work was published in various compilations about the city such as Workers’ City: the Real Glasgow Stands Up.   His own volumes included Glasgow’s McGarrigle.   He loved to write and to present his work live to an audience.   John will be greatly missed but his work will not be forgotten.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/John-McGarrigle---A-Tribute.aspx Tue, 10 Dec 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA News out now]]> Download your copy of WEA News here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-News-out-now.aspx Thu, 05 Dec 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[OECD PISA student assessment published]]> OECD PISA report comparing standardised test results of 15 year olds across countries in Maths, Literacy and Science.

    The report claims the best performing education systems have:

    • high expectations of every student
    • attract the most talented teachers into the most challenging classrooms and
    • combine professional autonomy with a collaborative culture across teachers and schools

    What do you think of international comparisons of education systems?

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/OECD-PISA-student-assessment-published.aspx Tue, 03 Dec 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Oxford MP visits WEA Centre]]>

    Oxford MP Nicola Blackwood, Parliamentary Private Secretary to skills minister Matthew Hancock, visited an Oxford Children's Centre to meet  students and see some of the WEA's work in the area.

    The WEA has been encouraging local MPs to visit classes in their constituencies across the country. Our Parliamentary Friends group now includes over 70 MPs and Lords and provides an opportunity for parliamentarians of all political parties to hear how the WEA is helping disadvantaged people across the country. The group ensures the WEA gives a voice to students, tutors, members and volunteers and provides opportunties for all WEA supporters to engage in public policy debates and discussions.

    If you would like to find out more, please email us at news@wea.org.uk

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Oxford-MP-visits-WEA-Centre.aspx Fri, 29 Nov 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Working with parents and families]]> Watch three WEA students from Basildon, Tammy Spriggs, Lisa Harrington and Janine Ginno, explain how education has helped change their lives and the lives of their children.

    To find out more about how you can help the WEA deliver more life-changing stories in schools across the UK, please visit our donate to our Family Learning Appeal 2013.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-helping-parents-and-families.aspx Tue, 26 Nov 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA supports Parliament Week]]> To celebrate Parliament Week, the WEA held a breakfast in the House of Commons for its parliamentary friends and partners from across the UK.

    Sponsored by WEA patron, Baroness Gillian Shephard, the event attracted over 50 guests, including representatives from NIACE, Unison, the Open University, the SFA, the Campaign for Learning and National Numeracy.

    Baroness Shephard began by welcoming the 70 MPs and Peers, many of which were able to attend the event, who have agreed to become friends of the WEA over the past year.

    Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, then spoke passionately about results of the recent OECD Skills Outlook report which was published in October. In responding to the report, which showed that England and Northern Ireland have below average levels of literacy and numeracy skills compared to our main competitors, Ruth asked whether it was acceptable in the 21st century for 8.5 million people to have poor maths skills and around 6.8 million to have poor literacy skills in the UK.

    A summary of the OECD report and the WEA’s response is available for download here.

    With this year’s theme of Parliament Week “Women in Democracy”, Baroness Mary Goudie then spoke about how women need to become more involved in their local community and encouraged everyone to join a political party to ensure greater representation of women in parliament and on local councils.

    The WEA’s Strategic Lead for Equality and Diversity, Mel Lenehan, then spoke about some of the work the WEA was doing to help women play a more active role in their communities. Using the examples of the Women’s Learning Programme and Women into Politics initiatives, she showed how improving skills can have a real effect on the levels of political engagement, which can inspire a renaissance in civic and political life.

    Ruth Spellman then close the event with the launch of a consultation on the WEA Manifesto for Change, which we are preparing to support our campaigns and work over the next 18 months.


    To get involved in the consultation process, please contact Sebastian Hanley at shanley@wea.org.uk.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Parliament-Week.aspx Fri, 22 Nov 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Double Win for WEA Slough]]>


    Spirits at WEA Slough are through the roof after the centre was recently recognised at two local award ceremonies.

    In October, WEA Slough were honoured to be highly commended in the Group of the Year category at the Slough CVS awards. With few of the staff even aware of the nomination, they were in for a surprise when they attended the awards evening, also a fundraising dinner.

    “To be highly commended for our work is a huge boost.  We really value the work done by the CVS to support voluntary groups.  To be recognised by them for the work we do really means a lot.”

    Further surprises were in store for one member of the centre who earlier this month won a Volunteer Manager Award from the Slough Volunteer Centre, a vital support hub for volunteers that places volunteers with organisations looking for help, as well as providing advice and training in the area.

    Put forward for her constant great work she does, managing the large volunteer pool at WEA Slough, Grace was shocked but honoured to receive the award.

    Our volunteers give so much time and energy to the WEA that they should be the ones getting an award.  I feel privileged to be able to help them to undertake their work.” She said.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Double-Win-for-WEA-Slough.aspx Wed, 13 Nov 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[NIACE Annual Digital Conference]]>

    WEA-partner NIACE is all set for their annual digital conference next month. Chaired by Bob Harrison from Toshiba, Chair of Northern College and a key player in the government’s FE Learning & Technology Advisory Group (FELTAG), the conference will explore practice and policy for adult learning with or about technology.

    Other speakers at “Learning at the Digital Frontier” will include Lord Knight of Weymouth on the future of learning, Rajak Naik from the Open University who will discuss their new MOOC platform, FutureLearn, and Rob Wilmot, founder of Freeserve, on digital skills for employment.

    Open debates surrounding a variety of topic will also take place, from provider responsibility for learners’ e-safety and MOOCS for Further Education to the “BYOD” agenda, with presentations from Richard French, British Computing Society, David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, and Rebecca Avery CEOP to name a few.

    As well as this, the conference will include a range of workshops showcasing how technology is shaping adult learning, including programming and coding for families and projects from the CLIF, JISC innovation and the BBC. The opportunity to attend surgery sessions from the Skills Funding Agency, Ofcom and social media experts will also be available.

    For more information and to apply, please click here. Enquiries can be made to events@niace.org.uk.]]>
    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/NIACE-Annual-Digital-Conference.aspx Tue, 12 Nov 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Deficits, Debts, and Austerity: The Real Story]]> A challenge to claims that austerity is inevitable will be made by an economist at a conference organised by the Workers' Educational Association (WEA).

    Dr. Michael Lloyd, a Senior Research Fellow with the independent Global Policy Institute, believes that governments' deficit reduction policies are 'unrealistic' and avoid the key issues, whilst inflicting pain on the victims of the financial crisis.

    In a talk entitled "Deficits, Debts, and Austerity: The Real Story", he will argue that governments should focus on growing the productive economy.

    The conference follows the WEA North East Region's annual meeting and takes place on Saturday 16 November 2013, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Framwelgate Waterside, City of Durham, DH1 5TL, at 1.15 - 3.00 pm.

    The event is free, and with an opportunity for discussion, but places should be booked by contacting the WEA on 0191 212 6100 or e: northeast@wea.org.uk

    Dr. Michael Lloyd - Professional Background:

    Dr. Michael Lloyd, who lives in the North East, is a Senior Research Fellow with the Global Policy Institute. The Institute was created in August 2006 as a Research Institute of London Metropolitan University. It brings together academics from the social sciences and business disciplines to analyse the dynamics of the post-globalisation world and formulate policy solutions.

    Dr Lloyd has expertise in the economics of the European Union, including monetary and transport economics. He is preparing a book on the Euro. He has a long-standing interest also in the history of economic thought and the development of a new eclectic approach to economic analysis

    Michael Lloyd has considerable professional and commercial experience. Following three years as an Economic Assistant at the TUC, from 1973 to 1980 he was a European Commission Official, principally based in the UK. He left in 1981 to become Director of International Affairs at British Shipbuilders. From 1984 until 1997 he ran an economic consultancy company concerned with European economic and technology consultancy to private and public organisations. He was Economic Adviser to the European Parliament on economic and monetary union during 1997/1998 and subsequently became Director of AMRIE (Alliance of Maritime Regional Interests in Europe), working on a number of European projects, before retiring as Director in May 2008 to concentrate on his economic research and consultancy work.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Deficits-Debts-and-Austerity-The-Real-Story.aspx Wed, 06 Nov 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Trustees Week 2013]]> Trustees are the people in charge of a charity. They may be called trustees, directors, board members, governors or committee members, but they are the people with ultimate responsibility for directing the business of the charity.  They are often the unsung heroes, playing a vital role, volunteering their time, working together to make the decisions that really matter about the charity's finances, activities and plans for the future.

    People often become trustees to 'give something back', but there is a two-way benefit; charities benefit from the range of skills and experience that their trustees bring, but trustees can learn and develop new skills that may open up new opportunities for them, as well as meeting people who share their passion.

    Trustees’ Week 2013 is the fourth annual celebration of trusteeship, to highlight the great work that trustees do, and to draw attention to the opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a real difference - no formal qualifications are usually needed, and many charities need more trustees.

    The Charity Commission is organising Trustees’ Week 2013 in partnership with Charity Trustee Network, recently merged with the Small Charities Coalition, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA)Reach Volunteering, Getting on Board, ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales), CFDG (Charity Finance Directors' Group), Knowledge Peers, The Honorary Treasurers Forum, Governance magazine, School Governor's One-Stop Shop (SGOSS), the National Unions of Students (NUS) and Young Charity Trustees.

    For more information please visit the Trustees Week website at http://trusteesweek.blogspot.co.uk/.

    To find out about the WEA's trustees, please visit http://www.wea.org.uk/about/whoweare/governance.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Trustees-Week-2013.aspx Mon, 04 Nov 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Newcastle Green Group Scoops Awards]]> An environmental project, run by the Greening Wingrove Community Interest Company in Newcastle’s West End, has scooped two awards.

    Greening Wingrove has won accolades from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and from the country’s largest voluntary adult education movement, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA).

    The RHS has given an award in recognition of the quality and range of gardens on the area’s Nuns Moor Road.  Several householders have taken a keen interest in developing attractive gardens that also support biodiversity such as bees and birds.   And some of the residents also volunteer to look after new Greening Wingrove street planting boxes on the busy corner of Nuns Moor Road and Wingrove Road.

    The second award for setting up an innovative environmental project, was presented by the WEA at the movement’s national conference held in Cambridge.  A selected number of new projects were chosen from around the country for the WEA awards. 

    WEA Chief Executive, Ruth Spellman, said:  ‘We were delighted to recognise Greening Wingrove as an example of how community action can be of real benefit.  It’s not easy to start something new, and with an environmental focus, in an inner-city area in these tough times.  But Greening Wingrove is showing how local improvements can be made in practical ways ranging from street clean-ups and creating community gardens to helping reduce energy bills and improve air quality.’

    The awards have come just as Greening Wingrove is preparing for its first Apple Day family event in Nuns Moor Park and at the Nunsmoor Centre on Saturday 26 October, 11 am – 3.00 pm

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Newcastle-Green-Group-Scoops-Awards.aspx Mon, 28 Oct 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Children's Centres Under Threat]]>


    The WEA is supporting the growing campaign against cuts to Children's Centres in Oxfordshire. An article in the Sunday Times on Sunday 13th Oxford reported potentially radical closure of many centres that are key partners of the WEA.

    Our recent research report 'Breaking the Silence' tells, in the words of several service users, the dramatic impact of participating in adult learning through attendance at WEA venues in Oxford, in this case the City's Children’s Centres. All the research points to the positive impact of early intervention - Mums and Dads develop confidence and are inspired to pass this confidence and enthusiasm for learning on to their children.

    But the WEA feels there are further concerns that this, as wholesale closure will not only affect the children but the whole community: whilst some centres may remain in the geographically large areas of disadvantage, the smaller pockets hidden in the leafy suburbs of Oxfordshire will again be excluded from essential services.

    The WEA has already gained the support of several local councillors and MPs and will be supporting service users in developing their campaigning skills.

    A summary of the WEA Oxford Children Centres report can be downloaded here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Childrens-Centres-Under-Threat.aspx Thu, 17 Oct 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A Coup for Conference in Cambridge]]>

    Baroness Joan Bakewell, with WEA Chair of Trustees, John Taylor and General Secretary Ruth Spellman


    After almost two years of planning, the WEA biennial conference took place this weekend in Cambridge as part of our Eastern Centenary celebrations.

    In her keynote address, Baroness Joan Bakewell called for a major overhaul of adult education. 

    Watch a video of her speech here:


    Other speakers included Les Ebdon from the Office of Fair Access, Tricia Hartley from the Campaign for Learning and Majorie Mayo from Goldsmiths University.

    To view a transcript of the video, click here.]]>
    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/A-Coup-for-Conference-in-Cambridge.aspx Mon, 14 Oct 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Joan Bakewell Calls for Education Reform]]>


    President of Birkbeck University, Baroness Joan Bakewell is set to call for major changes in the education system to give “so-called skivers” a chance to learn.

    Baroness Bakewell is due to give the keynote speech at the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) biennial conference in Cambridge on Friday 11 October. She is expected to say that many people, who she sees as being neglected by society including those on benefits, single mothers and those in prison, are being failed by the current education system. She believes that many of these people want to learn and more opportunities for part-time study are needed to allow them to improve their lives.

    The WEA conference, “Building Communities in Challenging Times”, will also feature speakers from senior representatives from the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), the National Institute for Continuing Adult Education (NIACE), the Campaign for Learning and Britain’s biggest union Unite. As the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education with a special mission to reach disadvantaged adults, the WEA conference will be exploring how part-time education can transform communities across the UK.

    Baroness Bakewell’s comments come after recent figures from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), showed that there has been a 40% downturn in part-time entrants at undergraduate level and 27% at postgraduate level since 2010.

    Baroness Bakewell said:

    "I believe everyone wants to learn. It is a human impulse.

    “I believe those so-called skivers want to learn - so do truants and those serving time. I believe whole groups of people neglected by society: those on benefits, those looking for a job, single women struggling to raise their families....they all want to learn. Our educational set up is failing them and failing them badly. It needs a major overhaul. That's where part-time study comes in."

    Chief Executive of the WEA, Ruth Spellman, said:

     “Part-time entrants to higher education are largely older adults. The recent decline in numbers suggests that there has not been enough investment in further and higher education.

    “If more isn’t done to urgently address this decline the UK economy will suffer as our workforce becomes increasingly older.”

    More information on the WEA Conference can be found at www.wea.org.uk/conference13. Speakers include Professor Marjorie Mayo from Goldsmiths University, Les Ebdon from OFFA, David Hughes from NIACE, Kenny Barron from Unite along with representatives from Canterbury Christ Church University, Green Square Housing Group, Mole Valley Housing Association and the Campaign for Learning.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Joan-Bakewell-Calls-for-Education-Reform.aspx Thu, 10 Oct 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[What impact does the WEA make?]]>

    The WEA published new research into the impact of its courses as part of Adult Learners' Week 2013.

    The report sets out findings from research with WEA students who completed their courses between September and December 2012 (download here). To coincide with the report, a review of the WEA in 2013 has also been published and is available for download here.

    The research reported that 90 per cent of respondents said their course exceeded or met all their expectations and 94 per cent enjoyed all or most of their course.

    Motivations for attending WEA courses were wide ranging. The most frequently cited motivation was ‘to improve knowledge or skill in a subject’ (84 per cent), followed by ‘to improve wellbeing or keep mind and body healthy and active’ (45 per cent), ‘to improve self-confidence’ (31 per cent), ‘as a stepping stone to further education, learning or training’ (20 per cent) and ‘to improve reading, writing, speaking and personal finance or numeracy skills’ (11 per cent).

    Covering the four core themes of the WEA – employability, health and wellbeing, community engagement and cultural education – the research looks in depth at the effects adult education has on learners’ lives.

    75 per cent of adults on courses designed to improve employability skills felt more confident about finding a job, with 64 per cent of disadvantaged students reporting that they had a better idea about what they wanted to do in their lives.

    Of those employed, 82 per cent said that as a result of doing a course they felt more confident about progressing their career and a third said that they were able to do their job better.

    On health & wellbeing courses, 98 per cent reported a positive social or health impact as a result, with 87 per cent saying that it kept their mind and body active. Life satisfaction and wellbeing scores were also higher than the national average, while anxiety ratings are lower.

    In cultural education, the vast majority of respondents (84 per cent) reported an improvement of at least one skill as a result of their course. Of those skills some of the most frequently cited improvements included communication (64 per cent) and creative skills (45 per cent).

    Nearly half (46 percent) of the disadvantaged parents with children aged 13-17 noted they were more confident in dealing with teenage issues as a result of the course.

    The report’s findings were:

    • WEA courses aid community engagement, as confirmed by the findings regarding volunteer work;
    • the WEA builds the confidence of parents to deal with various parenting issues thus supporting the development of stronger and more connected families;
    • people who can afford to pay and are able to pay are paying for their course, which shows that the WEA is using resources in line with its mission;
    • students, especially those that are classified as disadvantaged, are achieving outcomes in line with their motivations;
    • WEA courses contribute to improved health and wellbeing in students and healthier people mean a healthier society;
    • WEA courses aid the cultivation of social capital for socio-economically disadvantaged people and those who would otherwise face isolation through illness or old age;
    • WEA courses support people in work to develop confidence and competencies and those who are unemployed are given the confidence to get into work;
    • the WEA demonstrates in a tangible, meaningful way what ‘social purpose learning’ is all about.
    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/What-impact-does-the-WEA-make.aspx Tue, 08 Oct 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[How has austerity had an impact on women?]]>


    On 4th October, @WEAAdultEd hosted the first ever tweet hour, asking about the impact of austerity on UK women. How has almost a decade of austerity changed womens' lives? Have they been disproportionately affected by the cuts? Has austerity been useful for women in any way?

    Leading the twitter discussion was guest tweeter Finn Mackay, a leading figure in contemporary feminist politics and activism. Previously described as a "cornerstone of today's feminist scene", Finn founded the London Feminist Network aged just 23 and has worked as a public speaker, writer and local government officer. She was also one of the first to become a WEA Ambassador, back in June. 

    See the hashtag #WEAtweethour or follow the conversation at @WEAAdultEd.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/How-has-austerity-had-an-impact-on-women.aspx Tue, 01 Oct 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Response to Apprenticeship Funding Consultation]]> The WEA has today submitted a response to the consultation on Apprenticeships Funding Reform in England, which is being undertaken by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

    In summary our response has been:

     We agree that there is a case for some funding reform to improve the responsiveness and quality of the Apprenticeships system. This will be best achieved by investing in the current infrastructure, as opposed to creating a new, untested system.

     The principles of funding reform are, by and large, the right ones. However, we feel that too much emphasis has been placed on seeing the ‘employer as customer’. This does not recognise or take account of the plurality of employers, nor the partnership between the state, individual and employers.

     Equality of opportunity and access should be enshrined at the heart of the system. This means ensuring fairer access for those groups who benefit least from Apprenticeships, and fairer treatment of Apprentices while completing their frameworks.

     We agree with the focus on small and micro businesses, the continuation of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) taking on a first Apprentice. We hoped to see more about the role of Group Training Associations (GTAs) and the crucial role they play with SMEs and not for profit employers for example in the voluntary sector.

     There are inconsistencies between this proposed funding reform and other government policies for Further Education (FE) and tackling unemployment. There is an apparent disconnect between this policy and localism; the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships, the City Deals and the work of Jobcentres in moving people from economic inactivity into Apprenticeships.

     We are concerned that too heavy a focus on single employers, does not prepare Apprentices for their whole working lives, emerging industrial sectors and ‘gaining a trade’ with transferable skills and labour market mobility (and self-employment and entrepreneurialism). We agree with some commentators that a good Apprenticeship should be a broad education, as well as competence-based training.

     The Provider Payment model has the best chance of success, with government being more demanding on both employers and learning providers to deliver. From focusing on ‘Apprenticeship Quantity’, it needs to move to ‘Apprenticeship Quality’, reach and responsiveness. It is now the time to build on these foundations.

    To download the full response please click here.

    Staff member, Joanna Hilton, completes her apprenticeship with the WEA

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-responds-to-Apprenticeship-Funding.aspx Thu, 26 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Rayne Foundation funds further research]]>


    WEA West Midlands has been awarded £19,000 by the Rayne Foundation to develop and deliver research on the effects of attending regular education on people's health and wellbeing.

    The project, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, will see students from courses including Creative Writing and Local History asked to complete questionnaires and have their blood pressure measured.

    Ruth Spellman, CEO, said "I am delighted we are collaborating with the University of Oxford on this research project. The WEA has long been a thought leader and innovator, and we look forward to sharing our understanding of adult community learning and expanding our knowledge of regular education on health and wellbeing."

    Last year, the WEA was able to conduct a small scale study on the effects of adult learning and discovered findings that were backed up by a NIACE report in the same year. Both lots of research found adult community learning had hugely positive effects across a range of areas, including health and wellbeing.

    "This collaborative project gives us a fantastic opportunity to conduct more research in this field," said Eiluned Pearce, researcher at the University of Oxford. "It will give us a far better insight into the effects of adult education than our previous lab-based experiments and may help influence future UK adult education policy,"

    The project will run for one year, with courses starting in the Autumn term 2013. If you would like to register your interest in attending a free course in Staffordshire, Central Birmingham or Leamington Spa, please contact Cathie Zara (WEA Project Co-ordiator) at czara@wea.org.uk or 07825 366085.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Rayne-Foundation-funds-further-Oxford-research.aspx Fri, 20 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Remember a Charity Week]]>  

    Legacies are vital to our very survival, a fact that most of our supporters don’t realise. To raise some much needed awareness, we’ve joined forces with Remember A Charity, the largest consortium of its kind in the UK working to promote legacy giving.

    With 35%* of people saying they would consider including a gift to charity after providing for their family and friends in their will, and only 7%* doing so, there is huge potential to increase income from legacies. If, together, we can grow the sector by just 4%, we could raise an extra £1 billion for UK charities.

    A refreshed consumer campaign which launched in 2009 around the theme of ‘Make your last wishes something to remember’ has made positive inroads in changing people’s attitudes. For example, 60% of those who had seen the TV ads said ‘it made them think it was possible to leave a legacy as well as provide for family and friends’.

    The annual Remember A Charity Week, which the consortium runs, gives us a perfect opportunity to promote legacies both internally and externally.

    The campaign is not only creating enthusiam among the general public, but also with legal advisors and other professionals who write wills. Our collective aim is for all professional advisors to prompt their clients to consider leaving  a charitable gift in their will.

    We can all help the campaign to succeed, thereby growing the legacy market, by spreading the legacy giving messages, particularly to our own colleagues and staff and also with charity supporters.

    For more information please contact Pearl Ryall at pryall@wea.org.uk or visit www.rememberacharity.org.uk or www.wea.org.uk/donate.

    *TNS Social 2008

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Remember-a-Charity-Week.aspx Thu, 12 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Can science ever be for the people?]]>


    The WEA is about to get scientific with an event at this year’s British Science Festival.

    In a joint collaboration between the WEA, the British Science Association and MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne Central Chi Onwurah, The People’s Science will explore the role of science in strengthening democracy, and will ask whether science can ever be truly democratic. Can science ever be of the people, by the people, and for the people?

    Hosted by BBC North East Political Editor Richard Moss, the Question Time-style event will see a panel of five guests from the fields of Politics and Science discuss whether science can serve a social purpose. Due to appear is Chief Executive of the British Science Association Imran Khan, and Professor Lord Winston, broadcaster and Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London.

    The annual British Science Festival is the largest public showcase of science in the UK and this year takes place between 7-12 September in Newcastle at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. The People’s Science is on Sunday 8th September at 4pm.

    For more information or to book, please visit the British Science Festival website

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Can-science-ever-be-for-the-people.aspx Fri, 06 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[MPs debate lobbying bill]]> The Government's controversial lobbying bill had its second reading on Tuesday afternoon (3 September 2013). Although intended to strengthen existing rules that limit what organisations can do to support political parties during an election, many charities and community groups fear they may be inadvertently caught up in the regulations.

    The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), of which the WEA is a member, has been leading calls for the bill to be amended. As an organisation committed to improving democratic and civic engagement across England and Scotland, we are supporting their efforts to improve this legislation.

    To find out more about the bill, visit the NCVO's blog site here.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/MPs-debate-lobbying-bill.aspx Tue, 03 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Ace Fundraiser Andy Strikes Again!]]>

    Clockwise from left, Pearl Ryall (Membership and Volunteer Development Manager), Nicholas Turner (Mayor of Banbury), Jenny Gough (branch volunteer), Andy Willis (branch Vice Chair).


    A Southern branch of the WEA has hit the jackpot again after winning a grant from the Big Lottery months after a previous grant helped to launch the branch. 

    Banbury Branch Vice Chair Andy Willis submitted a bid as part of the Big Lottery fund's Awards for All grant, an award for community groups and projects that improve health education and the environment across the UK. The branch were eventually granted over £6,000 for local campaigns and community courses. 

    The branch committee were keen to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of the branch and organised an event for staff members and volunteers, attended by the Mayor of Banbury, Nicholas Turner. Cream teas and cakes were on offer to visitors who generously donated in excess of £250 to go towards branch running costs.

    Andy has also established a partnership with Sanctuary Housing, a National managed-property group, to subsidise courses for their residents in the area.

    The WEA would like to congratulate Andy and all the members of the branch committee for their hard-won funding.

    The Award is open to all branches of the WEA and others are encouraged to follow his example. Andy's number one tip when submitting a funding bid is to always use the word 'charity' when talking or writing about the activities of the branch. You can find more information about the grant here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Ace-Fundraiser-Andy-Strikes-Again.aspx Mon, 02 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Activity Map]]> This is a small selection of the work the WEA is involved in across England and Scotland.

    Drag the mouse to explore the whole of the country, and click the red balloons for information and pictures. 

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Activity-Map.aspx Fri, 30 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Government Report: Benefits of Adult Education]]>  


    The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has this week released a research paper on the economic and social benefits of adult learning.

    The research of almost 2000 people not in employment found the experience of adult learning was an exceptionally positive one. Almost half of women and a third of men found employment following the completion of their course, with a majority of these roles being permanent and at the same grade compared to their last employment.

    In a conclusion very similar to our own study, a huge number of learners found increased also expressed an increased confidence in learning and themselves, with 76% saying they had been able to make better use of their spare time and 30% feeling more capable in assisting their children with schoolwork. A majority of learners had, during their courses, also received career advice, and discussion of how their training could help them find work.

     Following the end of the courses, three quarters of learners felt they had a more defined career plan, and 66% stated their quality of life had improved as a result. Seventy two percent of learners had made new friends or taken part in voluntary work, and four in five had gain increased self-esteem with many feeling enthusiastic about learning and their future.

    The full report ‘The economic and social benefits associated with Further Education and Skills’ can be found here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Government-Report-benefits-of-Adult-Education.aspx Thu, 29 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[New WEA Deputy President Elected]]>

    Over the summer, members have taken part in the process of nomination and election for one Deputy President and Treasurer posts of the Association for the period 2013-17.

    The results are declared officially at Association Conference in October, but Standing Orders Committee, which supervises the elections, is happy that members should know details as soon as possible.

    In the case of Deputy President the details of the ballot conducted by the independent scrutineer, Electoral Reform Services is given below:

    Total number of votes cast: 2,702

    Turnout: 4%

    Number of votes found to be invalid: 16

    Total number of valid votes to be counted: 2,686

    The results of the ballot were:

    • David N. Hinchcliffe:    822
    • Ruth H. Tanner:          1,864

    Cliff Allum was elected unopposed as Treasurer.

    Congratulations to Ruth and Cliff; commiserations to David Hinchcliffe.

    One innovation this year was an online interview with the candidates which we hope to repeat in future. Thanks are due to all who took part in that and indeed the whole election process, as the Association seeks to involve members more in decision making.

    The term of office for those elected begins at the end of Conference.

    Michael Crilly

    Chair of WEA Standing Orders Committee

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/New-WEA-Deputy-President-Elected.aspx Wed, 28 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[25th Anniversary for Return to Learn]]>


    The splendid Garden Room at Unison's head office in London was the venue for a special celebration on the evening of 21st August.

    The occasion was the 25th Anniversary of the historic Unison Return to Learn and Women's Lives programme. The programme, a breakthrough in Union education in Britain was the result of a partnership with the WEA. 

    Over the years, Return to Learn and Women's Lives courses have given a second chance to learn to workers across the public sector. Thousands have developed their confidence, progressed in their lives and contributed at work and in their community from these courses. 

    Staff, tutors and students attended and the voices of others had been recorded from across the years showing just how the programme has changed  the lives of those involved. 

    Unison President, Maureen Le Marinel and Roger Mackenzie, Assistant General Secretary of Unison spoke warmly of the partnership with the WEA and the power of education in building confidence in people.

    You can find out more about Return to Learn at the Unison website here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/25th-Anniversary-for-Return-to-Learn.aspx Thu, 22 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Legacy Study into Learning]]>


    In the first of its kind, a study by WEA Oxford has revealed the widespread and far reaching effects of learning with the WEA.

    Collecting her data from interviews with over 90 WEA students who are now volunteering or employed at the Children's Centres where their courses took place, Kate Joyce, tutor and researcher in the Oxford region had enough information to start drawing some conclusions.

    “The biggest thing we found in this study was an increased sense of confidence, and the inspiring and life-changing powers of learning with the supportive dynamics of the WEA group,” Kate said.

    Kate's study also revealed that increased confidence was frequently overlooked as a credible gain from Community Adult Education, giving weight to the findings of a NIACE report released in 2006 that recognised confidence as an important but often unfairly ignored consequence of adult learning in policymaking. 

    “Regardless of whether women studied on their first WEA course two years ago or three decades ago, they repeatedly stressed that the confidence they gained from their courses was substantial and decisive, and forming the bedrock to their future,” Kate added.

    WEA students frequently used an introduction course as a stepping stone to employment or back into further education or work, with many taking volunteer or paid positions at the Children’s centres. Several reported feeling inspiration not only for themselves but as a role model both at home and in their community. More details can be found in the executive summary to this report which is available for download here.

    A separate study by Fujiwara (2012) even put a financial value on these positive impacts, pointing out that participating in adult learning courses has a value of over a thousand pounds to an individual, with the strongest gains made in establishing better social relationships and increased employment prospects.

    A long-held aspiration of the areas' WEA groups, this research was made possible through the Adler Legacy. Life-long supporters of the WEA, the Adler's gift has enabled the development of a new community branch in Oxford and a huge mosaic for Ruskin College building in Headington. You can find out more information about the legacies the WEA has received in the region here

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Adlers-Study-of-Learning.aspx Tue, 20 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The atmosphere is buzzing at Castleford]]>


    Castleford RUFC played host to the Bumble Bees Barbarians for a practical display by the Bumbles’ Inclusive Rugby Team on 11 August 2013. Presenting to a packed clubhouse on the benefits of a Mixed Ability Team, the team followed with an enthralling match between the Bumbles and a Castleford Select side.

    The Bumble Bees, supported by the WEA, are a contact rugby team featuring players both with and without disabilities. The team were invited to kick start Castleford's Creating Connections Sport Fund project, which aims to increase the number of disabled people taking part in regular sporting activity, and received high praise from all involved.

    Castleford RUFC’s Honorary Secretary, Steve Ball, said, “The Bumble Bees are the best advertisement for the benefits to be gained by giving more disabled people the opportunity to be active and, more so, to engage fully in rugby. I have never heard a packed clubhouse so quiet when listening to the presentation and the full applause was heart-felt. We were truly grateful for their assistance today”.

    The Creating Connections project took place in one of only 5 clubs in Wakefield to achieve the designation of Champion Club in recognition of the steps taken to become a truly inclusive sports club.

    Lisa Moseley of West Yorkshire Sport added “Castleford RUFC have shown how local clubs can be involved to increase the number and quality of inclusive opportunities. Today was a prime example of why I am really excited about the Creating Connections which is funded by the Sport England Inclusive Sport Fund, and which aims to link sport, health and disabled people’s organisations across West Yorkshire to create a pathway for sports participation.”


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-Atmosphere-is-buzzing-at-Castleford-RUFC.aspx Tue, 13 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The WEA has inspired me to get a job]]> After attending many interviews I now work part-time in a post office.”

    Rashmi Morabia moved from India to the UK 7 years ago and lives with her parents and brother. She began attending WEA ESOL classes at Reading Community Learning Centre. She has attended classes and passed exams in Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing at E2 and has also passed Speaking and Listening and Reading at E3 and the National Literacy test at Level 1.

    Rashmi says that when she started lessons with the WEA she didn't understand the teacher, but she attended every lesson and received a certificate for 100% attendance and gradually understood everything that the teacher was explaining.

    Rashmi wants to pass her Entry 3 writing exam and Level 2 Reading exam. She is also learning how to do presentations so she can sit her Level 1 Speaking and Listening exam. 

    Rashmi said:
    "If I hadn't come to English Classes I wouldn't be able to work. I work in a Post Office, on the counter, selling stamps, exchanging money and putting codes on all the products. I have been there 3 months. I began working on Sundays and now I work a few more hours but I still come to English classes and my employer thinks this is really important for me."

    Rashmi has made friends at the classes and thinks the pair and group work in the classroom is great. One of her friends from the WEA classes called Sajida and comes from Pakistan, they meet every week and speak in English.

    If you would like to support our work, please click here to find out more about the WEA 2013 Appeal.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-WEA-has-inspired-me-to-get-a-job.aspx Mon, 12 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Money Advice Service]]>

    The WEA has teamed up with the Money Advice Service to provide online financial heathcheck and budget planning tools.

    The Money Advice Service is independent and set up by government to give free, unbiased money advice to help you make informed choices - throughout your life and whatever your circumstances. It is funded by a levy on the financial services industry and advice and information is available online, over the phone and face to face.

    For more information, visit our Money Advice Service page here or visit thier website at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Money-Advice-Service.aspx Thu, 08 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Getting Women Into Politics]]>


    As a national lead in the Women’s Learning Programme, it’s no surprise that WEA East Midlands’ new learning campaign is going from strength to strength. With women making up only 22% of MPs in a house of 650, the Women Into Politics campaign aims to challenge the poor numbers of female representatives in parliament and support women to take their first steps into active political roles, including locally and nationally.

    Working in partnership with Bright Ideas Nottingham, the campaign promotes learning opportunities for women in politics as well as raising awareness and providing practical advice. Units cover grassroots activism, global politics and unions, and includes visits to key areas and discussions on the current position of women in each field.

    Their next event in September will feature the Baroness of Bow, Oona King. A strong advocate for diversity and equality, Baroness King was Senior Policy Advisor to the former Prime Minister from 2007-2009, and was nominated for Campaigning Peer of the Year in 2011. Previously Vice Chair of the British Council and television presenter with Channel 4, BBC, Sky, Five and ITV, Oona has a wealth of experience of Diversity and Equality policy and will be reading from her political diaries and taking questions from the audience.

    Audience with Oona King, Baroness of Bow is part of the Nottingham Women’s Conference taking place across September 2013. As a non-party political event, places are open to everyone but are highly limited with only a few places remaining. Oona King’s audience event at The Council House is on Thursday 19th September and advance booking is essential. For more information or to book a place, please email events@brightideasnottingham.co.uk.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Getting-Women-Into-Politics.aspx Wed, 07 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Sarkless Kitty]]> A group of budding thespians in West Yorkshire took to the Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole in June to perform ghost story, just metres away from where the legend began. 
    The cast members visited the area in September 2012 as a stimulus to explore characters from a different time and place. Later through their own research, they discovered a local legend that caught their imagination. The Tale of Sarkless Kitty tells the story of a servant girl and her engagement to a local boy. After a quarrel, kitty throws herself in the river and her ghost haunts the pool for centuries afterwards, luring young men to their deaths.
    The cast members, all from Leeds over 60 miles from the location, put their skills to the test to imagine themselves as village residents from 1787, creating their own characters that might have been involved in the mystery with the help of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, which donated all the costumes. 
    "It started off as an ordinary drama course, but we wanted to give them an experience on the course that would take them one step higher," said Biddy Coghill, WEA Course Organiser.
    The cast, weekly students of the drama class at Osmondthorpe Resource Centre in Leeds, are a committed and lively group of people with varying disabilities, tutored by Eve Luddington. The Ryedale Folk Museum was later opened to audience members which included special guests from Leeds City Council including Lucinda Yeadon, Councillor and Executive Member for Leisure and Skills. 
    "They were a credit to everybody involved and I don't think we've seen the last of them!" she said.

    A group of budding thespians in West Yorkshire took to the Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole in June to perform ghost story, just metres away from where the legend began. 

    The cast members visited the area in September 2012 as a stimulus to explore characters from a different time and place. Later through their own research, they discovered a local legend that caught their imagination. The Tale of Sarkless Kitty tells the story of a servant girl and her engagement to a local boy. After a quarrel, kitty throws herself in the river and her ghost haunts the pool for centuries afterwards, luring young men to their deaths.

    The cast members, all from Leeds over 60 miles from the location, put their skills to the test to imagine themselves as village residents from 1787, creating their own characters that might have been involved in the mystery with the help of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, which donated all the costumes. 

    "It started off as an ordinary drama course, but we wanted to give them an experience on the course that would take them one step higher," said Biddy Coghill, WEA Course Organiser.

    The cast, weekly students of the drama class at Osmondthorpe Resource Centre in Leeds, are a committed and lively group of people with varying disabilities, tutored by Eve Luddington. The Ryedale Folk Museum was later opened to audience members which included special guests from Leeds City Council including Lucinda Yeadon, Councillor and Executive Member for Leisure and Skills. 

    "They were a credit to everybody involved and I don't think we've seen the last of them!" she said.
    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Sarkless-Kitty.aspx Mon, 29 Jul 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Success for Dementia Liverpool project]]>



    An event in Liverpool by the Dementia Liverpool project was deemed a massive success as over fifty representatives from a huge range of organisations attended the consultation on dementia and mental health.
    Working in partnership with the WEA, Liverpool Football Club Foundation and MerseyTravel, the project heard from people of all backgrounds as they came to discuss, share and debate how to improve dementia care across the city. 
    Dementia currently affects over 800,000 people in the UK and this is set to rise to over a million by the year 2021. Sixty thousand deaths every year are directly attributable to the disease and only 44% of sufferers will receive a diagnosis and specialised care. In 2012 alone the financial cost of dementia care in the UK reached over £23 billion. 
    The event was held at Tate Liverpool and included a number of speakers including Dr Fitzsimmons, Associate Clinical Director of Clinical Gerontology at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Tommy Dunne, who spoke about living with Dementia. Workshops covered topics including “Learning to live with Dementia”, “Travel, Transport and Accessibility” and “Health and Wellbeing”.
    Alex Whittle, project co-ordinator for Dementia Liverpool said, “The link between learning and dementia care is still a subject of exploration, but there is certainly a place for adult education. The WEA has an important role in using informal learning to support people in actively raising awareness around mental health. By offering purposeful education using subjects like art and craft to explore attitudes towards dementia, we can help carers and families consider the whole picture in dementia care.”
    Geoffrey Appleton speaks at Dementia Liverpool joint project
    An event in Liverpool was deemed a massive success as over fifty representatives from a huge range of organisations attended the consultation on dementia and mental health.
    Working in partnership with the WEA, Liverpool Football Club Foundation and MerseyTravel, the project heard from people of all backgrounds as they came to discuss, share and debate how to improve dementia care across the city. 
    Dementia currently affects over 800,000 people in the UK and this is set to rise to over a million by the year 2021. Sixty thousand deaths every year are directly attributable to the disease and only 44% of sufferers will receive a diagnosis and specialised care. In 2012 alone the financial cost of dementia care in the UK reached over £23 billion. 
    The event was held at Tate Liverpool and included a number of speakers including Dr Fitzsimmons, Associate Clinical Director of Clinical Gerontology at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Tommy Dunne, who spoke about living with Dementia. Workshops covered topics including “Learning to live with Dementia”, “Travel, Transport and Accessibility” and “Health and Wellbeing”.
    Alex Whittle, project co-ordinator for the WEA said, “The link between learning and dementia care is still a subject of exploration, but there is certainly a place for adult education. The WEA has an important role in using informal learning to support people in actively raising awareness around mental health.


    By offering purposeful education using subjects like art and craft to explore attitudes towards dementia, we can help carers and families consider the whole picture in dementia care.”
    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Massive-success-for-Dementia-Liverpool-project.aspx Thu, 18 Jul 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Outstanding tutor - it's confirmed!]]> Jill at a Women's Leading Learning course


    Involved with the WEA for many years since first becoming a student over 30 years ago, it came as no surprise to her students when Jill Arnold was awarded Outstanding after a recent OTLA teaching assessment.

    One student commented, "I’m really enjoying the Gender and Politics course. It’s become the highlight of my week. Our tutor Jill sparks us off, and we have tremendous conversations, making important connections between our lives and how society is shaped. It feels like life-changing things are happening, we are thinking more clearly and differently, and growing seeds of action."

    After her student experience with the WEA Jill worked with her local branch and began organising Women’s Learning Programme courses, becoming a representative on the National Women’s Education Committee.  

    “For me the process is central, it started with the realisation that the learning in the WEA will change your life, it is so much more than learning about stuff.  For me women’s learning is a different kind of process, you cannot learn just to have it, you have to ask ‘what are you going to do with it?’” Jill said.   

    After retirement from university lecturing, we are very glad to say that Jill has returned to the WEA to join the Women’s Learning Programme in Nottingham and has run several very successful courses this year. These have included the Gender of Politics and the Politics of Gender, Women into Politics; How to Survive and Thrive, and most recently Women and the Politics of Art for which Jill received an outstanding grade following her observation.

    I feel like I have come back into the fold with the WEA and have already started being a student again which means I’m going to have a very active retirement.”  

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Outstanding-tutor-its-confirmed.aspx Mon, 15 Jul 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Government announces funding for democracy]]>

    Local organisations, neighbourhoods and communities have been asked to come up with ideas to get people involved, with the best ideas being awarded funding to help turn them into reality. The new Innovation Fund will focus on working with communities to improve their engagement in local democracy, particularly increasing the number of people on the electoral register. Up to £4.2 million is expected to be made available for the campaign.
    Funding will also be made available to local authorities to increase engagement in groups which are currently under represented including those in social housing. 
    New resource materials designed by a youth policy group have been launched for use in classrooms under a related initiative. More information about how to apply for this fund will be released at the end of July. 
    Central to our vision for a ‘Better world – equal, democratic and just’, the WEA has been at the forefront of encouraging democratic engagement across the UK for over a century. From our support for the suffrage movement in the early 1900’s to our course theme of Community Engagement and our recent “Why Vote”, the Association has always campaigned to inspire communities to fully engage in the democratic process. 
    Sebastian Hanley, WEA marketing manager said: “At a time when faith in the political system is in free-fall, regardless of party affiliation, we believe in the value of communities taking an active role in civic society. Experienced in working on the ground in local communities outside the range of  local agencies and authorities, we call on the government to speak to us about what works, and what doesn’t, to reach those unrepresented in local and national democracy.” 
    If you would like to support our mission, please join the WEA here (www.wea.org.uk/join) or donate via the website at www.wea.org.uk/donate. 

    Local organisations, neighbourhoods and communities have been asked to come up with ideas to get people involved their local area, with the best ideas being awarded funding to help turn them into reality.

    The new Innovation Fund will focus on working alongside communities to improve their engagement in local democracy, particularly in increasing the number of people on the electoral register. Up to £4.2 million is expected to be made available for the campaign.Funding will also be made available to local authorities to increase engagement in groups which are currently under represented including those in social housing.

    New resource materials designed by a youth policy group have been launched for use in classrooms under a related initiative. More information about how to apply for this fund will be released at the end of July.

    Central to our vision for a ‘Better world – equal, democratic and just’, the WEA has been at the forefront of encouraging democratic engagement across the UK for over a century. From our support for the suffrage movement in the early 1900’s to our course theme of Community Engagement and our recent “Why Vote”, the Association has always campaigned to inspire communities to fully engage in the democratic process.

    Sebastian Hanley, WEA marketing manager said: “At a time when faith in the political system is in free-fall, regardless of party affiliation, the WEA believes in the value of communities taking an active role in civic society. Experienced in working on the ground in local communities outside the range of  local agencies and authorities, we call on the government to speak to us about what works, and what doesn’t, to reach those unrepresented in local and national democracy.”

    If you would like to support our mission, please join the WEA here or donate via the website at donate to our mission.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Government-announces-funding-for-democracy.aspx Thu, 11 Jul 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA partner wins award]]>

    A long standing partner of the WEA and who also run health and personal development course’s in South Tyneside for many years has been awarded the 2013 Bevan Prize for Health and Wellbeing.

    “Women’s Health in South Tyneside (WHiST) has also been involved in the WEA Women’s Health Volunteers and Women’s Voices projects in the North East.  This is the inaugural UK award that is given in recognition of the organisation making an outstanding contribution to health and wellbeing, promoting the founding values of the National Health Service and working to ensure equality of access and equality of health outcomes.

    The team went to Westminster last week to collect the prize as part of the celebration of 65 years of the NHS.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-partner-wins-award.aspx Tue, 09 Jul 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Women students pay tribute to Emily Davison]]>
    A group of women students suffered, first hand, the indignities of women in the early 20th Century in their fight for equality and the vote. Women, from Women’s Health in South Tyneside, supported by the WEA in South Tyneside paid tribute to the women of the North East who fought for the right to vote and commemorated the centenary of Emily Wilding Davison’s death.  

    The women had been part of a mini project to look at North East Women’s contribution to the fight for equality, researching Women’s Suffrage in South Tyneside in particular, using original documents in Tyne and Wear Archives and Woodhorn Colliery Museum producing a mobile display which was aired at South Shields Town Hall on International Women’s Day in March this year. 

    Following this, the WEA and the women from WHIST teamed up with Beamish Museum in Co. Durham, to take part in their ‘Celebrating Community Heritage’ project which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    It all ended at the weekend with a Celebration Weekend at Beamish where our students took part in the Morpeth funeral procession and service for Emily, who died after being trampled by King George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby, joined in on a Suffragette march and debated in The Town.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Women-students-pay-tribute-to-Emily-Davison.aspx Fri, 05 Jul 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Open Day at St Luke's Hospice]]> Last week saw the celebratory open day at the Atrium Day Care Centre, St Luke's Hospice in Plymouth. The main event was the opening of their new sensory garden that had been built as part of a 'creative wellbeing' project run by the hospice and the WEA, supported by the Community Learning Innovation Fund.

    The project is based in the Atrium day centre but also involves others with different serious long-term conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. The idea behind the project was to extend the range of educational activities provided for users and establish something sustainable beyond project funding. The expression 'more than making cards' was used a number of times.
    Project tutors led group sessions involving participants in a range of practical creative activities including the garden and constructing a funky foam mosaic; the activities drew upon their memories and experiences. The mosaic below of Plymouth Hoe, an iconic Plymouth site, included details from students recollections of the Hoe such as the ice cream van, the courting shelter and newly named ship. They said 'a group project such as this is a great opportunity for socialising whilst being creative'. Often different craft activities reawakened skills, such as sewing and textiles that students had used at work in their earlier years.


    Rather than taking the students out, the 'outside was brought in'. This may have been seaweed, African drumming, even donkeys - providing a whole variety of stimuli in an accessible way. Volunteers played a vital role in this- gently finding ways to actively involve those saying 'I'm just watching' and giving practical help, for example holding the paper to help people draw.
    The project brought together existing St Luke's volunteers and some from the WEA successfully getting them working together and learning from each other. A WEA volunteer commented 'they're very serious (the St Luke's volunteers), they treat it like a job'. The volunteers have been trained (or had existing skills topped up) in things like jewellery making, rag rugging, felting, weaving, peg looming, sugar craft and clay work.
    For more information on the Project and how it has built itself a sustainable future, visit Pete Caldwell’s (WEA Education Director Curriculum and Provision) Blog http://pcaldwell.wordpress.com/

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Open-Day-at-St-Lukes-Hospice.aspx Wed, 03 Jul 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA's Jol Miskin runs 10K race]]> WEA Regional Education Manager in Yorkshire and Humber, Jol Miskin, alongside his two daughters Eleanor and Alice, are running a 10K race in honour of his step brother’s son Barney who aged only 21 tragically took his own life.

    The race is to raise funds for CWMT - a charity doing work with young people on mental health issues and committed to: "Raising awareness, Fighting depression." To find out more about their work, visit http://www.cwmt.org.uk/.

    To support Jol in his run, visit his fundraising page at:



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEAs-Jol-Miskin-runs-10K-race.aspx Mon, 01 Jul 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Last chance for Olive Cordell Awards]]> Each year the WEA runs The Olive Cordell Awards, to celebrate the achievements and work of Skills for Life learners and tutors. These awards have been made possible thanks to a legacy left to the WEA by Olive Cordell, who was herself as community studies tutor and lifelong supporter of learning for under privileged adults. This year’s awards will be presented at the WEA Biennial Conference on 11th October, in Cambridge.

    Last year’s student of the year award went to Luzayadio Mputo, an ESOL student from London. Luzayadio showed outstanding strength and determination to improve her life through education, whilst being an inspiration for other students in her class. 

    Laraine Clark won the award for Skills for Life tutor of the year, 2012. Laraine taught adults who face multiple and complex barriers to learning, including mental health and social and economic disadvantage. Many of her learners had negative experiences of school and she was praised for providing a “supportive, friendly, encouraging and welcoming environment” in which students could learn.

    Nominations are invited from all nine WEA English regions and they will judged by an independent panel consisting of WEA Directors, Staff and Trustees. If you know of an exceptional Skills for Life tutor or student who is eligible for an award then please complete a nomination form by 5th July 2013.

    There are many stories of exceptional learners and tutors within the WEA and the Olive Cordell Awards offer rare opportunity to celebrate them.

    Learner nomination form:
    Tutor nomination form:

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Last-chance-for-Olive-Cordell-Awards.aspx Thu, 27 Jun 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Better for students, Better for Everyone!]]>

    The ‘Better for Everyone’ project has been funded by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service(LSIS)  from September 2012 to June 2013, and is now entering a dissemination phase to share the learning and resources developed across the sector and beyond.

    Better for Everyone aimed to develop, pilot and evaluate a model for measuring the impact of diversity practice in the Adult and Community Learning (ACL) classroom, and so improve diversity practice to increase the retention, achievement and success of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) students.

    The WEA, NIACE and The Equality Trust have been working in partnership to develop the ‘Better for Everyone’ model and we are pleased to report that the project has impacted on all the stakeholders involved above and beyond what was originally anticipated. 

    Involvement in the Better for Everyone project has led to wider impact than originally anticipated.   Better for everyone was initially going to be a very focused project about development of a model which can stimulate and evidence the impact of equality improvement actions in relation to improving the retention, achievement and success of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee students.  It is in this context that the model has been piloted within 8 courses across 4 English regions.

    However it quickly became apparent that the model has the potential to be used in reference to any equality strand and related improvement actions.   This has fed into organisational development and broader work.

    For example within the WEA ‘Better for Everyone’ is now included in regional business plans, will be included in new SARs (Self Assessment Reviews) and is feeding into wider discussions, policy and strategy development around impact measurement, Learner Voice,  EDI (Equality Diversity and Inclusion) work and in broader work around quality assurance and improvement.

    Further it has had a very positive impact on tutors involved in the project.   At pilot stage, tutors with a good understanding of EDI and with outstanding OTL grades were selected to participate as part of the project methodology.  However, even such outstanding tutors have commented on how involvement in the project has led to improvement in their teaching and learning practice.

    Karen Chouhan, ESOL tutor, said: "For me, although I enjoy working with E&D issues, this brought it to the forefront of my thinking.  It helped me to consider it in a very targeted way, not just in the content of the course or theory of teaching and learning, but for learners and how to ensure that their identities and needs are central to how E&D is addressed, included and evidenced within my courses."

    Mel Lenehan, Regional Education Manager and National Strategic Lead for Equality and Diversity. "As an organisation committed to equality and diversity we are very pleased to have been able to develop a model which seeks to measure the impact of equality and diversity practice in the classroom and improve the success rates of our BAMER students. Building on the RARPA model, we believe applying this unique approach will not only improve our classroom practice and the experience of our BAMER students but will improve the outcomes for all WEA students, our staff and our organisation, so making it “better for everyone.”

    Over 70% of students involved in Better for Everyone were from BAMER communities, and report positive impact as a result of being involved in the project, including the following quotes taken from case studies: 

    “I am teaching my kids a better way of living”
     “I have better awareness of belonging to a community what my responsibility is”
    “After class I would discuss what I learned with my friends and family”

    For more information, visit the Better for Everyone website at http://betterforeveryone.wordpress.com

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Better-for-students-Better-for-Everyone.aspx Mon, 24 Jun 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA launches public spending debate]]> WEA takes public spending debate to its members

    WEA Chief Executive and General Secretary, Ruth Spellman, outlines her view as to what next week's Spending Review should contain. Let us know your views by submitting the form below.

    Over the coming weeks we will hear plenty of views about the outcomes of the Spending Review, to be announced on 26 June. Most of these will come from an institutional perspective and not take into account the opinions, hopes and fears of adult learners.

    That is why the Workers' Educational Association, which has over 70,000 learners enrolled on courses each year, is launching a post Spending Review debate to argue the difference adult learning makes directly with adults in communities, local councillors, parliamentarians and policy makers.

    In the WEA our vision is of “a better world - equal, democratic and just". We aim to inspire individuals, communities and society as a whole through adult education. As well as being a provider of courses, we are also a charity with a strong sense of social purpose. All our educational provision is developed with this in mind.

    The WEA is different from further education colleges and local authority providers, due to the high level of involvement of its members and volunteers, active at all levels in the organisation including its governance. We intend to build on this strength over the coming months to ensure that their voice is heard in national policy development.

    We will be focussing on three immediate  policy debates after next week's Spending Review: low paid adults in work, women and families disproportionately affected by austerity measures, and how people can become more involved in decisions in their localities.

    The impact of the recession on low paid adults in work
    With the introduction of Universal Credit there is the recognition that adults receiving in work benefits are key to developing prosperity. The WEA feels that focussing on their skills' needs would help productivity, improve pay, and at the same time get people out of the benefit trap.

    Positive action is needed to encourage people suffering from so-called 'in work poverty' to train and develop skills. Adults in these groups could have up to 40 years at work before retirement. We hope spending decisions will see their progress as infrastructural investment (as much as any road or railway). As yet there is little evidence that this group sees the benefit of taking out government subsidised loans at level 3 or 4. Action is needed by employers and government to encourage these adults as lifelong learners.

    The impact of austerity measures on women and families
    Women are being disproportionately affected by austerity. Due to employment cut backs falling predominately in the public sector, where women made up 64% of the workforce in 2012, there has been a greater effect on female employees. Women’s unemployment has risen much faster than men’s. Women will contribute 74% of the public savings outlined in the current spending review until 2015. The anticipated flow of women from public to private sector jobs is likely to see them worse off in terms of pay differentials with men, and provision of childcare.  

    And yet women are the key actors in children’s success - they make up 92% of lone parent families - as well as elder care and workplace development. Not to invest in their skills and development will have greater costs elsewhere. That is it why it is important to continue to invest in family learning and employment sectors like health and social care where women still make up large parts of the workforce. It is also why the continued support for adult community learning is crucial to our nation's success.

    Deciding locally
    The WEA fully supports moves to devolve decisions about the economy, health and education to more local levels. But in doing so planners need to be aware of that many adults are still a long way from that labour market and many voices are still unheard even at local levels. We want to see far more people able to be involved in decisions, ask questions and shape services. This is key to realising potential, building confidence, prosperity and community cohesion. We see adult education as critical to achieving this, in its planning, provision and impact – creating an educated democracy. The WEA’s model of education relies on local level planning through communities, partners and voluntary branches.

    Local provision should be determined by local need and an open and transparent method of allocating resources. This means local communities deciding what is best for their areas as well as businesses. With more funding likely to go into bodies that are not democratically elected such as Local Enterprise Partnerships, accountability is critical. How will LEPs work with providers, particularly in the voluntary sector, to understand the needs of those furthest from the labour market, and who often need the most support?

    These are the things we will be looking at in the Spending Review and sharing with our members as we lead up to our Biennial Conference in October to debate with ministers across departments, MPs, and senior policy makers. We will also be encouraging our branches and all the people we work with locally - partners, councillors, schools, and other charities - to feed into wider debates as proposals for the future of the country are taken at local national level.

    What do you think?

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-launches-public-spending-debate.aspx Thu, 20 Jun 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[CBE for WEA Chair of Trustees]]>

    WEA Chair of Trustees, John Taylor, received a CBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

    The award was for services to employment relations following 12 years as Chief Executive of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

    Mr Taylor became the Chair of Trustees in January 2013. On receiving the award he said: "It was a privilege to work for an organisation like Acas and I was delighted to be recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. I am thoroughly enjoying my new role at the WEA and I hope my experience at Acas will help the Association deliver on its mission to ensure there is always an opportunity for adults to return to learning."]]>
    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/CBE-for-WEA-Chair-of-Trustees.aspx Tue, 18 Jun 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Ambassadors Scheme Launched]]> Last week 10 very special WEA Ambassadors met with staff in Leicester as part of a successful induction process into their new roles.

    The diverse group consisted of WEA volunteers and tutors to journalists, political activists and councillors.  Our new WEA Ambassadors took on their titles with pride and discussed how best they could promote the work, vision and mission of the WEA within their networks, whilst drawing on their own personal experience to introduce the WEA to new people.

    Meet some of the Ambassadors…

    Jane Cordell

    Derek Metters

    David Dennehy

    Michael Hindley

    Steve Stocks

    In the afternoon, staff and Ambassadors learned about the longstanding history of the WEA by attending the theatre to watch the Pitmen Painters Play. Following the event Twitter was buzzing with Ambassadorial chat about the day and the hilarious but poignant theatre production.

    Finn Mackay: “Went 2 c fabulous play about the Pitmen Painters & @WEAadulted 2nite. Gr8 story, gr8 organisation with inspiring history & even better future”

    Naveeda Ikram: “@WEAadulted Great networking and induction programme, positive ideas and already thinking ahead to promote WEA #ambassador role”

    There is huge enthusiasm for renewed activism across the WEA and we value and appreciate the contribution WEA ambassadors can make.

    To learn more about the new scheme, watch the Prezi Presentation below.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Ambassadors-Launched.aspx Tue, 18 Jun 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Supporting Carers Week 2013]]> Monday marked the start of Carers Week (www.carersweek.org).

    Carers Week is a UK-wide annual awareness raising campaign that aims to improve the lives of carers and the people they care for.

    During the last five years NIACE has developed a targeted programme of work around young adult carers’ access to learning and work.  The WEA is supporting thier efforts and below are a few key facts, and a bit more about the work that NIACE has been doing externally.

    Key facts

    • What is a carer? NIACE supports the definition used by Carers Trust – “A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems.
    • There are around 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK – that’s 1 in 8 adults. 
    • Every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility.
    • Carers save the UK economy £119 billion every year.
    • 3 in 5 of us will be a carer at some point in our lives.
    • There has been a 25% increase in the number of young adult carers since 2001. Over 300,000 16-24 year olds are now carers – this group is twice as likely to be NEET (not in education, employment or training) compared to their peers.

    What is NIACE doing?

    In recent years NIACE has:

    • Produced and disseminated a series of resources to support young adult carers to engage in learning and work.  This has included the RUBLE (Really Useful Book of Learning and Earning) and a FE Resource Pack.
    • Delivered five staff training sessions, held a national conference and a high level policy seminar, in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal.
    • Produced ‘Voices of Young Adult Carers’ – a short book that includes young adult carers’ stories, in their own words, about their experiences of learning.
    • Disseminated policy briefings and briefed government officials and the Department of Health Minister, Norman Lamb MP, about NIACE's work.

     Moving forward:

    • In May NIACE launched a National Policy Forum on young adult carers access to learning and work, which has the support of 5 government departments.
    • NIACE gained funding for a new 3-year project – WE Care – Work and Education for young adult carers;
    • This week NIACE has a news item on our website - http://www.niace.org.uk/news/new-policy-forum-to-help-young-adult-carers-into-learning?src=fp1st – throughout the week they will also be posting a number of blogs, written by young adult carers. 
    • During the summer NIACE will be hosting two young adult carers on work experience.

     If you’d like to know more about any of this work, visit - http://www.niace.org.uk/current-work/young-adult-carers

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Supporting-Carers-Week-2013.aspx Thu, 13 Jun 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[In memory of Emily Wilding Davison]]> 100 years ago on June 4th 1913 Emily Wilding Davison walked in front of the King’s horse in the Derby at Epsom to protest against the continuing denial of votes for women in Britain.

    She died four days later from the impact of the collision. The WEA sent flowers to her funeral “with deepest regrets”.

    Voting was extended to women in 1918 after the First World War. Davison was one of the most radical and active of the suffragettes and, along with others, had endured terrible brutality from the police and authorities in prison and on demonstrations. Looking back from today, it can seem extraordinary that the extension of the vote to women was resisted so strongly by the state. However, their struggle was seen as part of a wider challenge to the power and property of the ruling classes that characterised the first part of the 20th Century.

    The centenary of her death has been widely marked but the issue she fought for is still important. Voting levels are dropping in UK elections. We can all mark this centenary by encouraging everyone eligible to register to vote. https://www.gov.uk/browse/citizenship/voting

    You may be on the register but are you sure your children/grandchildren are? If you teach for the WEA can you remind your students? If you’re a student – talk about it with others in your class.

    The WEA supported a campaign to recognise Emily's sacrifice. Following the intervention of presenter Clare Balding, this year’s Derby Day organisers commissioned the campaign to make a short photo and textual montage about Emily Davison and the suffragette struggle for the vote that were shown on the big screens at this year’s Derby.

    The WEA’s vision:  a better world – equal, democratic and just can only be achieved through an active and educated democracy. The WEA believed that in 1913 and there is much we can do today.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Emily-Davison.aspx Thu, 30 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A Big Thank You]]> The WEA has 3,000 strong volunteers across England and Scotland, helping us in every imaginable way – planning courses, fundraising, administration, marketing and publicity, classroom support and governance. We would like to say a heartfelt thank you to our volunteers who contribute £3.8 million worth of their time and effort to the WEA each year. The good work we do in communities simply wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you!

    Volunteers’ Week is an annual campaign which takes place next week (1st -7th June) celebrating the difference volunteers make across the UK. The WEA is hosting events across all regions, to find one near you, take a look at this map http://volunteersweek.org/events

    Do you want to make a difference in your local community, change your career path, or perhaps just try something new? Volunteering with the WEA can be a valuable and rewarding experience. For more info, email us at volunteering@wea.org.uk

    Here is what some of volunteers say about us.

    “It’s like going from rock bottom to turning it around. Now I have this under my belt I can really see myself with a job in the future.” WEA volunteer, Tezz Honeyford.

    “The WEA has helped me significantly, it has given me back a huge degree of self-worth, self-esteem and the ability to work altruistically with others. Helping others to develop a vision and drive towards better and greater things is incredibly rewarding.” WEA volunteer and tutor, Steve Stocks.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/A-Big-Thank-You-to-our-Amazing-Volunteers.aspx Thu, 30 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Family Learning Project Award]]>

    South Grove Primary School, in Walthamstow, offers a range of learning opportunities to improve the education and aspirations of extended family members of children attending the school. The project’s dedication to improving people’s lives through learning is being recognised with the Family Learning Project Award - supported by OCR as part of the NIACE-led Family Learning Inquiry - as part of Adult Learners’ Week 18 - 24 May 2013.

    The South Grove Extended School – Learning Together project has also made learning available for the local community in the Markhouse Ward, where 17 per cent of adults have no formal qualifications. Together with the Workers’ Educational Association, the school offers ESOL, Numeracy, Literacy and ICT classes to parents, as well as a creative writing class; a crèche supports parents with pre-school aged children. Family learning includes Tai Chi, Juggling, Yoga, African Dance and Drumming, as well as a Creative Writing class in which participants produce a book featuring recipes, stories, songs and poems to reflect the diverse cultures in their community.

    “The varied learning journeys of our parents and families have made a real difference to their engagement in school life with a subsequent impact on their children’s learning,” said project leader, Brigid. As a result, many participants have taken driving tests, applied for citizenship, or gone on to further learning or work. Friendships have been formed between parents, confidence has increased and there is a stronger sense of community. One learner said, “The classes have helped me and I now volunteer with the reception children and help the staff.”

    Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, OCR, said, “South Grove is a very worthy winner of the OCR Family Learning Project Award. We are delighted that the school’s innovative work to address the issue of adult literacy and numeracy has been recognised. As an awarding body, OCR has made the English and maths skills of adult learners a priority and we offer qualifications which are focused on building these skills in a simple and accessible way.”

    Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said, "The achievements of this year’s NIACE Adult Learners’ Week winners are inspirational. Each winner demonstrates the life changing benefits education offers.

    "To make it easy for anyone wanting to re-train, or to choose a new course of study, the National Careers Service is on hand and in its first year has advised 800,000 people on what options are open to them."

    David Hughes, NIACE Chief Executive, said, “Each and every year during Adult Learners’ Week we are reminded, by all the award winners’ stories, just how much people can improve their lives through learning. It helps them become more involved in their communities and often gives them a brighter future to look forward to. I hope the dedication, enthusiasm and vision that South Grove Extended School – Learning together has used to give people the opportunity to progress in life through learning will inspire other projects and employers to see the positive impact learning can have on people and communities.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Family-Learning-Project-Award.aspx Fri, 24 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Impact of WEA Adult Education]]> The WEA has published new research into the impact of its courses as part of Adult Learners' Week 2013.

    The report sets out findings from research with WEA students who completed their courses between September and December 2012 (download here). To coincide with the report, a review of the WEA in 2013 has also been published and is available for download here.

    The research reported that 90 per cent of respondents said their course exceeded or met all their expectations and 94 per cent enjoyed all or most of their course.

    Motivations for attending WEA courses were wide ranging. The most frequently cited motivation was ‘to improve knowledge or skill in a subject’ (84 per cent), followed by ‘to improve wellbeing or keep mind and body healthy and active’ (45 per cent), ‘to improve self-confidence’ (31 per cent), ‘as a stepping stone to further education, learning or training’ (20 per cent) and ‘to improve reading, writing, speaking and personal finance or numeracy skills’ (11 per cent).

    Covering the four core themes of the WEA – employability, health and wellbeing, community engagement and cultural education – the research looks in depth at the effects adult education has on learners’ lives.

    75 per cent of adults on courses designed to improve employability skills felt more confident about finding a job, with 64 per cent of disadvantaged students reporting that they had a better idea about what they wanted to do in their lives.

    Of those employed, 82 per cent said that as a result of doing a course they felt more confident about progressing their career and a third said that they were able to do their job better.

    On health & wellbeing courses, 98 per cent reported a positive social or health impact as a result, with 87 per cent saying that it kept their mind and body active. Life satisfaction and wellbeing scores were also higher than the national average, while anxiety ratings are lower.

    In cultural education, the vast majority of respondents (84 per cent) reported an improvement of at least one skill as a result of their course. Of those skills some of the most frequently cited improvements included communication (64 per cent) and creative skills (45 per cent).

    Nearly half (46 percent) of the disadvantaged parents with children aged 13-17 noted they were more confident in dealing with teenage issues as a result of the course.

    The report’s findings were:

    • WEA courses aid community engagement, as confirmed by the findings regarding volunteer work;
    • the WEA builds the confidence of parents to deal with various parenting issues thus supporting the development of stronger and more connected families;
    • people who can afford to pay and are able to pay are paying for their course, which shows that the WEA is using resources in line with its mission;
    • students, especially those that are classified as disadvantaged, are achieving outcomes in line with their motivations;
    • WEA courses contribute to improved health and wellbeing in students and healthier people mean a healthier society;
    • WEA courses aid the cultivation of social capital for socio-economically disadvantaged people and those who would otherwise face isolation through illness or old age;
    • WEA courses support people in work to develop confidence and competencies and those who are unemployed are given the confidence to get into work;
    • the WEA demonstrates in a tangible, meaningful way what ‘social purpose learning’ is all about.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Impact-of-WEA-Adult-Education.aspx Wed, 22 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Lively debate at Levellers Day 2013]]>

    This year's Levellers Day celebration, entitled Learning the Lessons of History, was held on Saturday 18 May 2013.

    Organised by the WEA, SERTUC (South East Region Trade Union Congress), Ruskin College, UNISON, NUT (The National Union of Teachers), The Woodcraft Folk, CWU (Communication Workers Union) and Oxfordshire Trades Council, the day is dedicated to three Leveller soldiers who were shot in Burford churchyard on 17th May, 364 years ago.

    Blessed by the fine sunshine a large crowd of some 250 people gathered to listen to a lively debate. Reverend Professor Mark Chapman began by making a moving reference to the Levellers’ claims for equality and justice, before posies were laid in the churchyard in commemoration of the tragic executions.

    Professor Mary Davis, from Aston University, led the audience through the historical facts of the Leveller’s ideas and discussed the importance of including radical history in the school curriculum.

    Dr. Nick Mansfield, from the University of Central Lancashire, gave us a highly entertaining journey through history, demonstrating how the Levellers’ ideas passed down the generations, even though they themselves were powerless in their time. John Hendy QC wondered what the Levellers would think if they were living in Britain today the progress made when hundreds of people died in a garment factory in Bangladesh and the proportion of people with access to collective bargaining in Britain has declined from 82% in 1979 to 23% today.

    The ensuing debate was ably chaired by Megan Dobney, Regional Secretary of SERTUC, with many pertinent contributions from the audience about the role of education, declining access to justice, new approaches from Trades Unions, the use of social media and the importance of individual activism.

    After the debate the crowd gathered to march through the streets of Burford, led by the speakers, and with a multitude of banners from a variety of organisations including the TUC, WEA, and Save the NHS. Drummers, Morris Dancers and the Sea Green Singers lent colour and sound to the march which drew out the tourists.

    Following refreshments, the participants moved into the afternoon workshops. 

    These started with a presentation on the Bliss Mill strike by Rob Evans, Labour Councillor for Chipping Norton, and then split into two groups to explore Radical Women’s History with Ruskin College and Opportunities for adults in Further Education, led by the WEA.

    Greg Coyne, one of the WEA’s education Directors, provided some very thought provoking statistics, which demonstrated that opportunities for adults to follow a serious history/politics/social science curriculum are extremely limited. By looking at data on median wages Greg was able to show that the Further Education sector largely provides a diet of competence based qualifications for the low wage economy with few opportunities for adults returning to education to develop the critical thinking skills essential for a knowledge based economy. The workshop concluded with a sharing of ideas about how these issues could be addressed through self-organised learning, in the spirit of the historical origins of the WEA.




    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Lively-debate-at-Levellers-Day-2013.aspx Mon, 20 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Jenni Murray delivers WEA Lecture]]>

    Around 300 WEA members, students, tutors and volunteers, gathered at University College London last Thursday for the WEA’s first ever annual lecture.

    ‘Women and Cultural Education,’ was a suitable topic for the event due to the WEA’s longstanding reputation in campaigning for women’s equality and rights. The WEA which was founded in 1903 and UCL in 1826 are some of the UK’s oldest educational establishments and both the first to accept women onto their courses on equal terms with men.

    UCL Provost and President, Malcolm Grant opened the lecture by illustrating common themes between the two organisations, including histories deeply rooted in equality and quality, bringing opportunities for education to all regardless of their background. The UCL Latin motto translates as “let all come who by merit deserve the most reward” and the WEA’s mission is, “a better world - equal, democratic and just; through adult education the WEA challenges and inspires individuals, communities and society.”

    Following this, one of radio and television's most respected broadcasters and regular presenter of Radio 4's Women’s Hour, took to the stage. Jenni Murray began by painting a picture of her early childhood. She grew up in Barnsley, West Yorkshire, her grandfather a miner who died in his 50s of the miners’ lung disease silicosis and her father an electrical engineer. Education was a way out of poverty for her family.

    Jenni recalled sitting on a pouffe alongside the family’s ‘Bush’ wireless radio listening to Women’s Hour, which was the first of its kind to discuss 'taboo' subjects of its time, such as menopause, cancer and homosexuality. Little did she know that she would go on to inherit the Woman's Hour chair and became an instant hit with the listeners.

    Feminism was something that Jenni was not taught from a young age, rather she acquired it over the years. It began when, as a single woman, she was refused a mortgage without a father or husband's signature. In 1975 the sex discrimination act came into being and on that basis she returned to the building society, threatened legal action, and won.

    As a journalist, Jenni was known for her forthright questions. She commented that the only interviewee she was ever intimidated by was Margaret Thatcher, in which she famously confronted her about her childcare policies. Some of her favourite interviewees included, Joan Baez, Jack Nicholson, Monica Lewinsky, Barbara Castle, Shirley Williams, and Baroness Warnoch.

    Jenni is president of the Fawcett Society, an organisation which has been campaigning for women’s rights since 1866. However she reminded us that across the globe, the battle for women’s education has not yet been won, referring to the case of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan.

    The lecture closed with words from the WEA’s Chief Executive, Ruth Spellman, who hopes that the next generation of women will continue to fight the battle for equality and the stories of those who have fought will not be forgotten.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Jenni-Murray-gives-first-Lecture.aspx Thu, 16 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA's Jol Miskin runs half marathon]]>

    WEA Regional Education Manager, Jol Miskin, successfully competed a half marathon to raise money for Asia Monitor Resource Centre in honour of his friend Simon Pickvance, a pioneer in occupational health.

    Jol said: "To those who sponsored me for the half marathon a big thank you to you all. There were some very generous contributors including someone (only you know who you are) who donated £200! Fantastic response and it looks very much as if I will have raised close to £800.

    "Of course it's never too late! If you'd still like to sponsor me, even though it is all over, then here are the bank details once more:

    Account Number: 17101390, Sort Code: 08-92-86

    "And my time: 1 hour and 38 minutes"

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Jol-Miskin-runs-half-marathon.aspx Tue, 14 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA's Jol Miskin fundraising for AMRC]]> The WEA's Jol Miskin, Regional Education Manager in Yorkshire and Humber, is set to take part in a sponsored half marathon. This is in honour of his friend Simon Pickvance, a pioneer in occupational health, on behalf of the Asia Monitor Resource Centre which Simon supported.

    Jol said:

    "It’s a long time since I did a sponsored run. In fact the last one was the full marathon in Sheffield back in the 1980s when I raised funds for the Miners.
    "This time it is a little different. For a start I’m a bit older and it’s a half marathon rather than the full thing! It is on Sunday 12th May in Sheffield. The run is in honour of my friend and comrade Simon Pickvance (See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2012/dec/20/simon-pickvance-obituary ). Simon, a pioneer in occupational health services, died aged 63 at the end of last year, two years after being diagnosed with mesothelioma – a legacy of working with asbestos in the building trade. Simon, a scientist, dedicated his working life to workers’ rights and helped set up the Sheffield Occupational Health Advisory Service, a model copied elsewhere. He worked internationally as well and was hugely liked and respected by all who knew him. Simon was a good friend of the WEA and had helped some staff in the Yorkshire and Humber Region who required occupational health advice. He was always willing.
    "When Simon died his family asked that donations be made to the ASIA MONITOR RESOURCE CENTRE (AMRC  http://www.amrc.org.hk/ ), an NGO Simon had worked with and supported. So this is the organisation I am raising funds for:
    "The Vision of AMRC is to become a strategic research, education, and information resource partner of the broad Asian labour movement in the struggle for decent jobs, equality, and dignity for Asian working men and women. The mission of AMRC is to support and contribute towards the building of a strong, democratic, and independent labour movement in Asia by understanding and responding to the multiple challenges of asserting workers’ rights to jobs, decent working conditions, and gender consciousness, while following a participatory framework.

    "Because the AMRC is based in Hong Kong I am unable to organise sponsorship through ‘JustGiving’. I have set up a special account with the Coop Bank instead."

    To donate to Jol's run, please transfer money into this special account:
    Account Number: 17101390
    Sort Code: 08-92-86


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEAs-Jol-Miskin-fundraising-for-AMRC.aspx Thu, 02 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA['I've now found my place']]>

    Afshan Khan

    “I had stopped learning, I had no job – but now I’ve found my place.”

    Afshan Khan used to teach English to O-Level students in her native Pakistan – she has a First-Class Master’s Degree in English Language.  Her circumstances changed, and in 2005 she came to England with her son: “I didn’t know where to start, but I picked myself up and started looking for a job.”

    Afshan struggled to find work in Slough so she started doing adult education courses including ECDL, CLAiT and Phlebotomy.  But despite her qualifications and perfect English, she still couldn’t get a job.  In the summer of 2011, Afshan went along to the Thomas Gray Centre in Slough – a multi-agency community centre which is also home to the WEA.  She picked up a WEA course brochure and decided to enrol on a Level 1 Social Care course.  Afshan soon got to know the WEA team, and Organiser Grace Keal suggested she become a volunteer, so she started working in the WEA office doing a range of administrative work. 

    In the autumn, Grace invited Afshan to become a volunteer support tutor in ESOL courses.  Inspired by her volunteering experience and with newfound confidence, Afshan started a PTLLS course, which she successfully completed a few months later.  In Autumn 2012 started DTLLS, which will ultimately lead to an adult teaching qualification, and started teaching her own ESOL classes for the WEA.  Afshan is also part of a volunteer outreach team and runs sessions to gauge learner satisfaction and encourage other women to start learning; her fluency in English, Punjabi, Urdu and a number of other languages meant that she’s often called upon to translate.  Afshan said:

    “Coming to the WEA has been a wonderful experience.  My confidence has grown enormously; I believe in myself so much more now.  The WEA environment is so friendly – it’s just a great organisation to work for!  I love my family but I didn’t want to be just a stay-at-home parent.  At the moment I’m learning to teach ESOL and Family Learning courses but I will specialise in ESOL. When I came to the UK I’d stopped learning and I couldn’t get a job.  The WEA gave me the opportunity to start teaching again.  I really feel I’ve found my place now.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Ive-now-found-my-place.aspx Thu, 02 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Levellers Day 18 May]]>

    The free event takes place on Saturday 18 May 2013 from 10.00 – 16.00 at Warwick Hall Burford, Oxfordshire, OX18  4RY

    For 2013 Levellers’ Day (18 May) the spotlight turns to the legacy of the Levellers’ of Burford and their relevance to today’s struggles and challenges. With a real focus on the radical history of Oxfordshire the issues of civil rights, democracy and protest will be explored through exhibitions, workshops and an impressive panel of speakers.

    On 17 May 1649, three soldiers were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire. They belonged to a movement popularly known as the Levellers, with beliefs in civil rights and religious tolerance.

    During the Civil War, the Levellers fought on Parliament’s side, they had at first seen Cromwell as a liberator, but now saw him as a dictator. They were prepared to fight against him for their ideals and he was determined to crush them. Over 300 of them were captured by Cromwell’s troops and locked up in Burford church. Three were led out into the churchyard to be shot as ringleaders.

    Levellers’ Day is organised by SERTUC (South East Region Trade Union Congress), WEA (Workers Educational Association), Ruskin College, UNISON, NUT (The National Union of Teachers), The Woodcraft Folk, CWU (Communication Workers Union) and Oxfordshire Trades Council.The panel includes: Dr Nick Mansfield – former director of the People’s History Museum, historian and lecturer, leading academic and writer Professor Mary Davis and John Hendy QC who campaigns tirelessly for improved legal rights for workers.

    Megan Dobney from SERTUC who will be chairing the event is looking forward to the day said: “We plan to make Levellers’ Day a real celebration of radical working class history.  As well as a fantastic panel of speakers, we have a great line up of workshops, including a craft workshop for younger visitors, a procession of banners around Burford and an exhibition and celebration of some of our fantastic local history. We can all take great inspiration from the events of the past and the courage of ordinary people like the Levellers who had a remarkable impact on the development of democratic ideas and movements.”

    Pearl Ryall from the WEA said: “Leveller’s Day is always an enjoyable day with an excellent standard of presentation and debate from outstanding speakers and a very knowledgeable audience. It is one of the few opportunities to discuss pressing issues of the day in the context of our shared history.”

    Event Co-ordinator Trish Lavelle added: “If you are interested in social, political or local history come to Burford, Oxfordshire on Saturday 18 May for a fantastic free event. We start at 10.30 with commemoration of the Levellers, and follow up with a packed schedule of exhibitions, workshops and of course the colourful and lively procession around Burford.”

    You can keep up with the latest news on Levellers’ Day via our Facebook Page and Twitter or the website www.levellersday.wordpress.com  

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Levellers-Day-2013.aspx Tue, 30 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Emily Davison Writing Competition]]> listenupnorth.com is very pleased & privileged to announce a new NATIONAL writing competition, part of Emily Inspires! which aims to raise awareness about Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, her passionate fight for the right for women to vote and her Northumberland roots.

    Emily Inspires ! is a programme of events which will culminate in June 2013 with Centennial commemorations in Morpeth, Northumberland and will include the premiere of Kate Willoughby's play To Freedom's Cause before it goes on to tour Northumberland & beyond.  

    Emily was repeatedly arrested, imprisoned and force fed for her part in demonstrations and activities in support of the Women’s Social and Political Union.  In June 1913, Emily Davison’s name became known around the world when she stepped onto the track at Epsom Derby and was struck by the thundering hooves of the King George V’s racehorse, Anmer, whilst trying to pin the suffragette colours of purple, green & white on the bridle.

    Emily never recovered from her injuries and died four days later in hospital. On June 15th her body arrived by train at the railway station in Morpeth, Northumberland where huge crowds gathered to watch the funeral procession as it made its way through the town to St Mary’s Churchyard, where she was buried.

    Emily had set off from her mother's home in Longhorsely, Northumberland to travel to Epsom and had been driven to Morpeth Railway Station by her neighbour, Bob.

    Your Writing:

    Imagine that it is just after Emily's departure for Epsom - write your thoughts or feelings through the eyes of one of the following people:

    emily davison plaqueEmily

    Emily's mother, Margaret

    Neighbour & driver, Bob

    You can write:

    prose, a blog or a letter (max 300 words) or a poem (max 50 lines)

    Winning entries will be performed during the Centennial Commemorative Weekend in Morpeth (June 13th to 15th 2013) and recorded for listenupnorth.com & uploaded to the website for everyone to hear.  There will be 1st 2nd & 3rd winners nationally with 3 winners for the best entries from Northumberland residents.  (Northumberland entrants will be entered into both categories). Entrants should be at least 18 years old by the closing date (10th May 2013) and resident in the UK.  

    Prizes include a stay in beautiful Northumberland with 2 nights at the luxurious Longhirst Hall with a meal on the first evening, an i-pad, £100 cash donated by SCA, Prudhoe, a selection of Northumberland goodies from The Morpeth Chantry TIC, gift vouchers from Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth plus subscriptions to North East Life magazine and Myslexia magazine 

    To download the writing competiton guidelines leaflet click HERE (pdf file) 

    To download the full terms & conditions & how to submit your entry click HERE (pdf file)

    To find our more about this competition, please click HERE

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Emily-Davison-Writing-Competition.aspx Mon, 29 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[100 Miles for 100 Years of Eastern]]> 100 miles, 6 counties, 1 day - 1 July 2013

    Reaching the ripe old age of 100 is no mean feat for any organisation; it's a birthday worth celebrating!  The Eastern region centenary calendar is filling up with events and activities, and now Media Officer Tim Arnold has set himself a centenary challenge: to cycle 100 miles through all six counties in the Region - in one day!  But there's another reason why Tim's celebrating: this is his tenth year of working at the WEA, and the ride will take place exactly a decade to the day when he started on 1 July 2003.

    He is doing this to raise money to support the region's work with those facing social and economic disadvantage, so please visit his fundraising page to dontate through Virgin Money Giving.

    Tim said: "I was already thinking about doing something to mark ten years of working at the WEA when Eastern Region became part of my remit.  I started thinking about how I could tie the centenary in, and then it came to me: a century cycle ride.  I am a fairly keen cyclist - I commute by bike as much as possible and have done a few long rides before, most notably the Dunwich Dynamo - but since becoming a dad I haven't had as much time to ride, so I'll need to train hard to get fit enough - it won't be easy!"

    Tim decided to add to the challenge by designing a route which takes him through all six counties in the Region.


    "I've mapped out a rough route which allows me to pass through all the counties in Eastern Region, ending up at the Regional Office - Cintra House in Cambridge.  Over the next few weeks I'll be working out how I can meet as many WEA people as possible along the way, and hopefully tie in some quick learning activities!  I'll be using social media and geotagging my content so people can track my progress along the way.

    I wanted to highlight the fact that the WEA is a charity, so this is fundraising activity, too.  I'm aiming to raise £1,000 to support our mission in the Region, and will also be looking for sponsors - decent tyres aren't cheap!  And by coincidece rather than design, this ride also fits nicely with one of our education themes - health and wellbeing."

    Click here to visit Tim's fundraising page with Virgin Money Giving

    Tim will be blogging about his preparation for the ride over on our blog.  Follow Tim's progress on twitter @TimArnoldWEA. He will be using #WEAEastern100 to tag related tweets.  Good luck, Tim!

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/100-Miles-for-100-Years-of-Eastern.aspx Thu, 25 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA['This course has really helped me']]>

    Learners at the Cutteslowe Community Centre in North Oxford have just completed a WEA City and Guilds Level 1 course - Introduction to Working in Care.

    The course is part of the WEA’s employability work and was developed in partnership with the Oxford & Cherwell Valley College and Job Centre Plus.

    All students were unemployed, receiving benefits and actively seeking work. Students learn about working with vulnerable adults, the importance of confidentiality and policies and procedures.

    Andy from OCVC gave advice and guidance at the last session as all students have access to the college’s career service.

    If this sounds an interesting course , the WEA are running another one in April at Elms Road Children’s Centre, Botley.

    One learner said, “This course has really helped me to gain confidence in my chosen field and I am now looking forward to my new job as a Support Worker”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/This-course-has-really-helped-me-to-gain-confidence.aspx Mon, 22 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Omega Centre set for creative weekend]]> The WEA’s Omega Centre in Portsmouth plays host to a creative writing weekend over the 18th and 19th of May, marking the start of Adult Learners’ Week.  Authors from award-winning publisher Myriad Editions will lead writing workshops ranging from how to plot a story to creating a graphic novel; there is also a Saturday evening session where industry professionals demystify the murky path to getting work published.  The WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education and offers courses for adults of all ages and backgrounds. 

    WEA Lead Tutor Kerrith Bell, who has organised the event, said:

    “The WEA is no stranger to creative writing – one of our regular tutors is Costa Award-winning poet John Haynes – but this is the first time we’ve partnered with a publisher to create a suite of complementary workshops.   Learners can choose the sessions which are of particular interest to them, or see the weekend as a complete package.  It’s a great opportunity for people to learn more about diverse aspects of writing and publishing, and also to find out more about the WEA and Omega Centre.”

    Candida Lacey, Managing Director at Myriad Editions, said:

    “We are thrilled to be working with the WEA, an organisation with a rich history of using the creative arts to engage and inspire learners.  We’re fiercely proud of our authors and I have no doubt that participants on these workshops will gain valuable insight and inspiration for their own work.  Who knows – maybe one day they will be leading workshops!”

    The WEA’s Write Now weekend takes place over Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th May.  Workshops run from 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm and cost £20 each (£10 concessions for benefit claimants); Saturday’s How to Get Published panel session is 5:30pm-7pm and costs £5.  Food and refreshments are available at the venue or bring your own.

    For more information and to book visit http://weawritenow.wordpress.com or contact Omega Centre at portsmouth@wea.org.uk or on 023 9229 1346.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Creative-weekend-in-Portsmouth.aspx Wed, 17 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Hear more about WEA health & wellbeing]]> Birmingham based WEA health project, Community Learning for Healthy Living, has been invited for a radio interview with 107.5 Switch Radio on Tuesday 16 April from 2.30-3.00pm. Project Manager, Shaju Bibi and Project Organiser Anjim Ahmad will talk for half an hour about the WEA health project and how it has been making an impact on people's health and wellbeing across Birmingham.

    CLHL are currently running a radio advert through Switch Radio which has been running since the 25th of March to promote the project and provision for next term. Switch Radio are a charity based community radio station based in Castle Vale and targets North East Birmingham. They also run a newspaper Tyburn Mail which has a wide distrbution across the area.

    Listen live here on 16 April at 2:30pm to hear the WEA Health Project talk about the impact the project makes on people's health and wellbeing and find out more about how to get involved.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Hear-more-about-WEA-health--wellbeing.aspx Fri, 12 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Watch the CLR James conference]]> On Saturday 13th April 2013 the life and achievements of the Trinidadian journalist and essayist, Cyril Lionel Robert James, better known as C. L. R. James, was celebrated at a special conference held by the C.L.R James Legacy Project in partnership with the WEA, UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education.

    Over sixty people gathered to hear speakers at the conference which included Selwyn Cudjoe, Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, Massachusetts,and his widow and women's rights activist, Selma James.

    The event comes after Hackney Council named its first new library to be built for over 20 years the Dalston C.L.R. James Library.

    Speaking at the event Selwyn Cudjoe said: “C. L. R. James' integrity and his commitment to scholarship remain the hallmark of his career. His ability to offer a materialist interpretation to any matter with which he was presented distinguishes him from many of his colleagues.”

    Christian Høgsbjerg editor of CLR James’s 1934 play about the Haitian Revolution 'Toussaint Louverture: The story of the only successful slave revolt in history' said: “It is critically important to remember the profound contribution made by figures such as C.L.R. James, who among other things revolutionised historical understanding of Atlantic slavery and its abolition and politically shaped the rise of multi-cultural, ‘post-colonial’ Britain. Moreover, given the continuing capitalist crisis, C.L.R. James's revolutionary socialist politics and vision of universal liberation through struggle from below represent a beacon of hope that can inspire activists fighting back against ‘austerity’ and racism today.”
    Hackney poet Sam Berkson said: “I first came across the work of CLR James through his famous work of the 1930s, The Black Jacobins, and I was astonished by how fresh his writing seemed. He was the one of only a handful of writers I've read whose genius was so complete that everything he turned his hand to he completed with a mastery... For me, the fact that Hackney has a library named after such a radical thinker is a source of pride in my area, and it would have been a great loss if the name had been taken away from us."

    The conference wes live streamed by WORLDbytes Citizen TV volunteers for viewers across the globe and available here.

    WEA Director, Pete Cadwell with C.L.R. James' widow Selma James

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Tune-in-to-the-life-and-legacy-of-CLR-James-conference-this-Saturday.aspx Thu, 11 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA['I now have my active life back']]>

    Shirley, a learner from the first YMCA Learning for Health group in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, has spoken about the impact joining a WEA class on her life and made a video about her class.

    "In my view, the WEA classes give so much to the members.

    "As well as exercise there is the communication with the other folk - to say nothing of the tea and biscuits!.

    "The talks which are given to us at the end of our workouts are very useful and interesting.

    "I have been retired for 8 years but now I have my active life back.

    "I have always worked, so felt lost when I was made redundant at the age of 67! I have enjoyed concocting a video about the Friday WEA class. If there is some way in which I can pass on my knowledge of compiling this type of video I would be pleased to do so.

    "So no more sitting around getting bored - join the WEA to make friends and have lots of exercise."

    Watch Shirley's video below or visit Stoke-on-Trent's Community Health Education website to find out more.



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/I-now-have-my-active-life-back.aspx Wed, 10 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[New branch for Lincoln]]> The WEA has a new branch in Lincoln in response to calls from enthusiastic learners.

    The team canvassed learners with an extensive survey to find out what they wanted. Ideas about courses, current levels of course and venue satisfaction, problems with transport or parking as well as a desire for social events, including get togethers to meet tutors, visits to museums, galleries and theatres were collated by the new committee.

    The committee acted quickly to a request to reinstate the Anne Ward Memorial Lecture, which had been held on an annual basis to celebrate the memory of one of the leading lights of Lincoln WEA, tutor organiser Anne Ward.

    On Saturday 2nd March 2013 Dr. Steven Gunn of Merton College, Oxford enthralled almost 100 people at St. Hugh’s Church Hall, Lincoln with a description of his cutting edge research on Tudor Coroner’s Reports. He very kindly tailored the information to the Lincolnshire taste and talked on Everyday Life and Accidental Death in Tudor Lincolnshire. The afternoon was extremely informative and thanks to Dr. Gunn’s sharp sense of humour, very entertaining. A cream tea was served before question time and judging from the comments left on the feedback forms, which were circulated to all participants, the day was very much appreciated.

    The Lincoln learners are certainly looking forward to more of the same in the future.

    For more information on the new WEA Lincoln Branch contact the Lincoln office on 01522 522472.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/New-branch-for-Lincoln.aspx Mon, 08 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Leicester student learns new computer skills]]>

    A learner from Leicester's 101 Branch, Paul Ford, has been making great progress in his computer course.

    Paul writes: "Being unemployed after caring for my elderly parents for many years, I found it difficult to find and to apply for jobs, as everything is on line. 

    "I have never used or owned a computer before now, so I hadn’t a clue what to do. So in April 2012 I enrolled on a course with the WEA to do CLAiT ITQ level 1.

    "The course provided by the WEA has been very good. The tutors are fantastic and are always willing to help and give advice. To date I have completed word processing, spread sheets, desktop publisher and database level 1. This has enabled me to be able to compile my own CVs, cover letters, e-mails and to be able to complete application forms on line.

    "I am looking forward to progressing to level 2 and maybe employment within IT."

    Computing tutor at the Branch, Avani Thakrar, is delighted with Paul's early success.

    Avani says: "Paul started his computer course with the WEA last summer term 2012. He had no computer knowledge when he started the course.  Paul has progressed so well, having completed 4 units in New CLAiT . His self confidence has increased and he now works well with computers.

    "Paul will progress on to do new CLAiT Level 2."

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Leicester-student-learns-new-computer-skills.aspx Tue, 02 Apr 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Win £150 in the WEA Real to Reel competition]]> http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-real-to-reel-competition.aspx Fri, 22 Mar 2013 00:00:00 GMT en <![CDATA[The Pitmen Painters begins national tour]]>  

    The widely acclaimed The Pitmen Painters has just began a six-month tour of the UK, starting at Windsor’s Theatre Royal.
    Inspired by William Feaver’s book, the play tells the true story of a group of miners from the WEA Ashington Branch who turned their hand to painting after organising an art appreciation course.
    The Pitmen Painters is a humorous and deeply moving play that takes a timely look at art, class and politics, while at its heart is the WEA’s message of transforming lives through adult education.
    Written by the creator of Billy Elliot, Lee Hall, the play has had sell-out seasons at the National Theatre, Broadway and the West End.


    Dates for The Pitmen Painters tour

    Date Venue Contact  
    11 - 16 Mar 2013 Theatre Royal
    01753 853888 Book online
    18 - 23 Mar 2013 Clwyd Theatre
    0845 330 3565 Book online
    25 - 30 Mar 2013 Festival Theatre
    01684 892277 Book online
    1 - 6 Apr 2013 Southend Palace
    01702 351135 Book online
    8 - 13 Apr 2013 Pomegranate Theatre
    01246 345222 Book online
    15 - 20 Apr 2013 Alhambra Theatre
    01274 432000 Book online
    22 - 27 Apr 2013 Cambridge Arts Theatre
    01223 503333 Book online
    29 Apr - 4 May 2013 Eastbourne Devonshire Park
    01323 412 000 Book online
    6 - 10 May 2013 Yvonne Arnaud
    01483 443900 Book online
    13 - 18 May 2013 King's Theatre
    0131 529 6000 Book online
    20 - 25 May 2013 Severn Theatre
    01743 281281 Book online
    27 May - 1 Jun 2013 Derby Theatre
    01332 59 39 39 Book online
    3 - 8 Jun 2013 Lyceum Theatre
    0114 249 6000 Book online
    10 - 15 Jun 2013 Curve Theatre
    0116 242 3560 Book online
    17 - 22 Jun 2013 Wycombe Swan
    High Wycombe
    01494 512 000 Book online
    24 - 29 Jun 2013 Theatre Royal
    0844 871 7650 Book online
    1 - 6 Jul 2013 Theatre Royal
    0844 811 2121 Book online
    8 - 13 Jul 2013 Civic Theatre
    01325 387764 Book online
    15 - 20 Jul 2013 Harrogate Theatre
    01423 502116 Book online
    22 - 27 Jul 2013 Hall for Cornwall
    01872 262466 Book online
    29 Jul - 3 Aug 2013 Oxford Playhouse
    01865 305305 Book online
    5 - 10 Aug 2013 Richmond Theatre
    0844 871 7651 Book online
    19 - 24 Aug 2013 Grand Theatre
    01792 475 715 Book Online

























    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Pitmen-painters-national-tour.aspx Tue, 19 Mar 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[National Apprenticeships Week 2013]]> The sixth annual National Apprenticeship Week celebrates apprentices and the benefit for individuals, businesses and the economy.


    National Apprenticeship Week takes place from 11 to 15 March 2013.

    There are hundreds of events throughout England with employers, apprentices, business support and sector organisations, learning providers, colleges and schools demonstrating the value of apprentices.

    To mark the start of Apprenticeship Week, Prime Minister David Cameron joined Skills Minister Matthew Hancock on a visit to meet young apprentices at a training academy in Buckinghamshire. There the Prime Minister pledged to make it the ‘new norm’ for school leavers to take an apprenticeship or go to university.

    Matthew Hancock also announced that the first postgraduate apprenticeships will start this year.

    It will enable school-leavers to become accountants, airline pilots and join other professions without a university degree.
    Matthew Hancock said; "Britain’s prosperity depends on the high-level skills that create world-beating products and services. He went on to say; "By creating new apprenticeships at degree level and above, the government is sending a clear signal that practical learning is a viable route to the professions."

    The government will formally respond to the Richard Review, which has looked at ways to improve the quality of apprenticeships, later this week.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/National-Apprenticeships-Week-2013.aspx Thu, 14 Mar 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA["Concerning" figures of part-time HE entrants]]> Adult learnersWEA, the UK’s largest charitable provider of adult education, has expressed concern at the latest figures from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which shows that there has been a 40% downturn in part-time entrants at undergraduate level and 27% at postgraduate level since 2010.

    With part-time entrants predominately adults, the report, Higher Education in England: The Impact of the 2012 Reforms, indicates that changes to funding mechanisms has had a major detrimental impact on the number of older students entering into higher education.

    The report also suggests that institutions are withdrawing from short courses. With an increasingly older workforce, the WEA has called for more to be done to provide pathways into higher education for adult learners.

    Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, said: “Part-time entrants to higher education are largely older adults and the decline in their numbers shows that there has not been enough investment in providing them with pathways to university.

    “David Willetts recently called for older people to consider going to university in order to continue working beyond the official retirement age. We agree. According to the CIPD, one third of the UK workforce will be over 50 by 2020, so employees will need to reskill throughout their careers.

    “The government should be looking to raise aspirations and giving adults the skills and confidence to consider university as a viable option if they want to halt this decline in part-time students. We urgently need to address this issue to sustain the UK economy at a time when our workforce is becoming increasingly older.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/concerning-figures-of-part-time-HE-entrants-released.aspx Thu, 14 Mar 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Robert Goodwill visits WEA Scarborough]]> Robert Goodwill MPRobert Goodwill MP, Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury and MP for Scarborough and Whitby, visited WEA projects in North Yorkshire to gain further insight into WEA's work in the area and discuss plans for future developments.

    Joined by WEA Organiser Steven Blockley, Mr Goodwill visited the Briercliffe Children's centre in Scarborough and was introduced to various examples of how WEA's partnership work is making a difference to people's lives and communities.

    WEA Helping in Schools students, working towards Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools, also had the opportunity to talk with their local MP. Students shared the benefits of their learning experience in improving their confidence and employability and providing a greater awareness of how children learn and how to support their own children in school.

    Mr Goodwill, a former WEA ICT student, said of his visit 'As a former WEA student myself, I can testify to the benefit of continuous learning through life and the contribution the work of the WEA makes to this.'

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Robert-Goodwill-visits-WEA-Scarborough-.aspx Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA responds to HEFC and OFFA's report]]> The UK’s largest charitable provider of adult education, the WEA, has welcomed the publication of an interim report by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFC) and the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) on the National Strategy for Access and Student Success.

     The report is the latest part of the Government’s investment strategy for widening participation in higher education. Although welcoming the report’s recommendations on increasing outreach and engagement with disadvantaged communities, the WEA has expressed concerns that the report is too focused on school-leavers and does not place enough emphasis on older learners and part-time students.

    With a third of all undergraduate students studying on a part-time basis and an increasingly older workforce, the WEA has called for more to be done to provide pathways into higher education for adult learners.

    Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, said:

    “While everyone supports providing more opportunities for young people in deprived areas to access higher education, this should not be at the expense of reaching out to older, part-time students.

    “The UK has an increasingly ageing workforce, so it is vital for the long-term sustainability of the economy that we provide adults, as well as young people, with pathways to train and reskill for new industries. Older students can also become role-models for their children at an early age, thereby encouraging new generations of undergraduates without the need for expensive outreach strategies.”

    The interim report comes ahead of final recommendations to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, in autumn 2013.


    Visit the Higher Education Funding Council to download the report.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-responds-to-interim-report-on-National-strategy-access-and-student-success-strategy.aspx Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Tandrusti patron runs last race]]>  

    Fauja Singh, WEA Tandrusti’s 101-year-old Patron and the world's oldest marathon runner, has finished a 10-kilometer race in Hong Kong.

    Nicknamed the Turbaned Torpedo, Indian-born Mr Singh completed the race in one hour, 32 minutes and 28 seconds.

    Mr Singh, from Ilford, east London, became the world's oldest marathon runner when he completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds on 16th October 2011. 

    He has now decided to hang up his trainers shortly before his 102nd birthday.

    "I will remember this day. I will miss it" Mr Singh said, minutes after crossing the finish line.



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Tandrusti-Patron.aspx Mon, 25 Feb 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A very special competition]]> The founders of the WEA

    WEA are exploring the opportunity to bring the whole Association together for a week of fundraising activities and we would love to hear your ideas!

    We are a charity dedicated to taking adult educational opportunities to diverse communities and transforming lives by providing everything from essential employment and health education to opening minds to new ideas. Therefore, the WEA relies on our dedicated volunteers as well as our ability to raise vital funds to continue this great work.

    Your ideas could be put towards our aim to bring the Association together to raise money for the hundreds of local charitable projects we run and support and could be anything from a national coffee morning to a special auction. 

    The best ideas will receive a copy of ‘A Very Special Adventure: The Illustrated History of the Workers’  Educational Association' with the winners revealed on the national site and within the next issue of WEA News!

    How to Enter

    Please send your fundraising ideas to news@wea.org.uk providing your full name and postal address.

    Entry Deadline

    Sunday 31 March 2013



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/A-very-special-competition.aspx Tue, 19 Feb 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Event explores 'the point of' newspapers]]> The Sun 20 years on


    Would The Sun be able to write their infamous Hillsborough headline today?

    'What's the Point of...' is a series of discussion groups exploring cultural issues.

    The latest is a seminar exploring the rise and arguable fall of the newspaper. The group sets to explore the health of tabloid and broadsheet journalism as they compete with digital communications for readers and struggle to retain integrity and relevancy in a post-Leveson Inquiry culture.

    Held at Liverpool's Cotton Exchange and led by WEA volunteer and sociology lecturer Nev Bann, attendance to the discussion is free to WEA volunteers and members.

     Visit the event page to learn more



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/whats-the-point-of-newspapers.aspx Thu, 07 Feb 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA News is Out Now!]]> WEA News 29 is out now!


    The Winter issue of WEA News is now available.

    The latest issue includes how you could contribute to this year's conference, WEA Chief Executive Ruth Spellman's outlook on the future of the WEA and a two-page spread of all last year's WEA Awards Winners.

    Download WEA News Issue 29


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-News-Issue-29-released.aspx Wed, 23 Jan 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[BBC R4 Explores the Value of Culture]]> Melvyn Bragg

    Melvyn Bragg presents The Value of Culture, a new BBC Radio 4 series examining the idea of culture and its evolution over the last 150 years.

    The first episode finds Bragg exploring poet and critic Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy; a series of essays first published in1869.

    Arnold, a noted educational reformer, had argued passionately that culture - ‘the best which has been thought and said' - is a powerful force for good.

    With mention of the WEA as a supporter of cultural study, the series provides an interesting discourse into how culture and its analysis have helped shape communities and the access to education.

    Listen to BBC Radio 4's The Value of Culture


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/BBC-Radio-4-Series-Explores-the-Value-of-Culture.aspx Thu, 03 Jan 2013 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[OU powers free, online higher education]]> UK universities embrace the free, open, online future of higher education powered by The Open University

    Students from the UK and around the world will have free access to some of the country’s top universities thanks to Futurelearn Ltd, an entirely new company being launched by The Open University (OU). The universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, Lancaster,  Leeds,  Southampton,  St Andrews and Warwick have all signed up to join Futurelearn.

    Futurelearn will be independent but majority-owned by the OU. It will:

    • Bring together a range of free, open, online courses from leading UK universities, that will be clear, simple to use and accessible;
    • Draw on the OU’s expertise in delivering distance learning and pioneering open education resources to underpin a unified, coherent offer from all of its partners;
    • Increase accessibility to higher education (HE) for students across the UK and in the rest of the world.

    Global demand
    Futurelearn has been warmly welcomed by UK government. The Minister for Universities and Science responsible for higher education in England, David Willetts, said:

    "The UK must be at the forefront of developments in education technology. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) present an opportunity for us to widen access to, and meet the global demand for, higher education. This is growing rapidly in emerging economies like Brazil, India and China.

    “Futurelearn has the potential to put the UK at the heart of the technology for learning agenda by revolutionising conventional models of formal education. New online delivery tools will also create incredible opportunities for UK entrepreneurs to reach world markets by harnessing technology and innovation in the field of education."

    OU expertise
    Martin Bean, the Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said:

    “MOOCs represent an enormous development in higher education, one that has the potential to bring about long-lasting change to the HE sector. The OU has decades of experience in world-class distance learning – each year we teach around 250,000 registered students, with literally millions of others accessing our free, informal, online offerings. Futurelearn will take this proud heritage and work with some of Britain’s best-known universities to write the next chapter in the story of British higher education.”

    The University has recruited one of the key architects of the development of BBC Online, Simon Nelson, to head up the company as Launch CEO. Nelson spent 14 years at the Corporation where he helped set up iPlayer and  its forerunner Radio Player and led all digital activities, initially for its radio division and then across all television content. He said:

    “There has been rapid and widespread growth in open online courses but until now UK universities have only had the option of working with US-based platforms. Futurelearn will aim to bring together the leading UK universities to create a combined and coherent offer for students in the UK and internationally. I look forward to using the OU’s proud history of innovation and academic excellence to create something the UK will be proud of and the world will want to be a part of.”

    Futurelearn has been welcomed by ministers and education leaders from across the UK. Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Education and Skills in the Welsh Government, said:

    “The area of Open Educational Resources is a fast-moving field in which the power of the internet and information technology can transform access to learning globally. I have encouraged the higher education sector in Wales as a whole to engage with this in a serious way and I am delighted that this new initiative from the OU – an organisation which already has a pan-UK and global reach – takes a lead in charting an exciting path into the future from which learners in Wales will be beneficiaries.  It is especially pleasing to see that the OU will be working with Cardiff University to explore new ways of providing learning opportunities that can take some of the best of HE in Wales to the world, and bring the world to learners and HE in Wales.”

    In Scotland, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell MSP said:

    “I am pleased to note that Scottish institutions are involved in this new initiative which has the potential to open up research and learning to a wider group than before and contribute to our objectives around widening access.  
     This is an excellent example of universities embracing new technologies and teaching approaches, with the potential to share the benefits of higher education more widely.”

    Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University said:

    “Online education is becoming an important approach which may open substantial opportunities to those without access to conventional universities.  This OU initiative is an exciting means to build on its established success and expand its mission.”

    Futurelearn will announce future details of its structure and courses early in the New Year.

    Welcoming the announcement, Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of WEA, said:

    “This is an important initiative from the OU that will open up access to high quality university resources with a single, coherent entry point for students. It is vital that universities connect with communities throughout the UK and WEA has been working with the OU to provide opportunities for adults wishing to enter further or higher education. Futurelearn will help make this happen by bringing together a range of free online courses and we look forward to working with them to make this accessible to our learners.”

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/OU-powers-free-online-higher-education.aspx Fri, 14 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Techno Elders appear on BBC1’s Inside Out]]> BBC Inside Out with WEA's Techno EldersWest Midlands' Techno Elders featured in BBC1's Inside Out West Midlands on Monday 17 December at 7:30pm, as the programme celebrated 50 years of Jamaican independence.

    The Birmingham-based African Caribbean elders group took part in learning the surrounding social, political and economic issues of developing countries and were joined by the BBC crew during their WEA ICT class, taught by Veena Gogna at Handsworth Fire Station (pictured).

    With a large proportion of the Techno Elders being of Jamaican origin, the BBC crew were eager to document the learners’ experiences of migrating to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. This is just another instalment in the group's autobiographical activity, as they have also charted their experiences through Connecting Histories – a partnership project led by Birmingham City Archives within which the Techno Elders' online exhibition has been published. 

    Visit BBC iPlayer to watch Inside Out West Midlands 


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Techno-Elders-BBC1-Inside-Out-West-Midlands.aspx Fri, 14 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Adult Learners' Week Nominations]]> Don't miss your chance to nominate someone for Adult Learners' Week!

    Nominations for the Adult Learners' Week Awards 2013 close at 5pm on Thursday 13 December 2012. People have less that a week left to nominate someone they believe deserves recognition for their outstanding learning achievements, whether it is someone they teach, a colleague, friend or relative.

    The Adult Learners' Week (18 - 24 May 2013) Awards are for people who have used learning to help them transform their lives, often beyond what they ever thought was possible. Awards are also given to innovative projects that provide adults with the opportunity to learn and improve their lives, the lives of their families and the communities they work and live in.

    There are new award categories for 2013 which recognise learning in different walks of life:

    • Arts and Culture
    • Family and Community
    • Health
    • Life Skills
    • Sport and Leisure
    • Technology and Innovation
    • Work

    David Hughes, NIACE Chief Executive, said:

    "The motivation, determination and desire that adults show when using learning to improve their lives is remarkable. It is evident in all the nominations we receive each year for Adult Learners' Week, which clearly illustrate the positive impact learning can have. Some people learn to improve, and progress in, their career; others because they want their children or grandchildren to do well at school; and others simply because they want to learn more about something they're fascinated by."

    "The Adult Learners' Week Awards celebrate both people who have transformed their lives and projects that have given them the opportunity and support to do so. They're a great way to give adult learners the recognition they deserve at the same time as inspiring many more people to take up learning. So if you want to recognise an outstanding learner and to help inspire many others, nominate for an Adult Learners' Week Award."

    All awards categories are open to learners living in England only. The closing date for nominations is 5pm on Thursday 13 December 2012. For more information about how to nominate for the Adult Learners' Week Awards 2013, visit http://www.alw.org.uk/, email alw@niace.org.uk, or call the NIACE Adult Learners' Week Team on 0116 204 4200. Visit http://www.alw.org.uk/learning-awards to nominate online.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Adult-Learners-Week-Nominations.aspx Fri, 07 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Support the WEA this Christmas]]>    

    An Easy Way To Raise Funds

    Do you shop online? Did you know that every time you buy something you could be raising money for WEA to help support our mission?

    Over 3000 well known retailers including Amazon, M&S, Boden, Waitrose, House of Fraser, Vodafone, Virgin Atlantic and many more, will donate a percentage of what you spend to WEA when you shop with them, via the easyfundraising website.


    An Easy Way To Raise Funds

    It’s like nectar but instead of earning points, each purchase generates a donation. So instead of going directly to a retailer’s website, go to easyfundraising first and choose the retailer you want to shop with – then everything you spend with that retailer earns a free donation for WEA. It’s completely free to use and your shopping won’t cost you a penny more.

    On average, each retailer will donate 5% of the cost of your shopping - and those donations soon mount up.

    So whatever you need to buy, from your weekly grocery shop or fashion must-have, to your business travel, office supplies or mobile phone, buy it via easyfundraising and raise money for WEA at no extra cost to you!

    Please register to supporting us when you shop online - http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/wea

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Support-the-WEA-this-Christmas.aspx Thu, 29 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[H-SBA Competition calls Budding Writers]]> Home-Start Bridgewater Area (H-SBA) is giving a budding writer the chance to win £500 in their annual short story competition.

    Entrants can use their 2200 word limit to submit a story on any theme they wish and the shortlisted winner will be chosen by eminent novelist Margaret Drabble (The Sea Lady, The Pattern in the Carpet).

    H-SBA will be using all proceeds from the competition to support their charitable mission in providing guidance and emotional support to struggling families with pre-school children during particularly difficult times.

    For competition rules or to submit a postal entry, download the form here.

    The closing date for submissions is Monday 21 January 2013. Good Luck!

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/H-SBA-Competition-calls-Budding-Writers.aspx Mon, 26 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Emily Wilding Davison Campaign Launch]]>

    Next year will mark 100 years since the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison was killed after running in front of the King's horse at the Derby. The WEA is supporting a campaign for a minute's silence at next year's Derby in memory of her sacrifice for women's rights and democracy.

    Research suggests that Emily worked with the WEA in its early years and a cutting from the WEA archives shows that the organisation sent a floral tribute to her funeral. Throughout its history, the WEA has campaigned for equality and we continue to seek a more equal, democratic and just world.

    The Emily Wilding Davison Memorial Campaign will be launched on Thursday 29 November from 6:30pm to 9:00pm at Firebox London in Camden.

    Speakers at the event will include Dr Helen Pankhurst, granddaughter of suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst and women's rights campaigner; Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers; Katherine Connelly, campaign co-ordinator and author of forthcoming biography of Sylvia Pankhurst and Peter Barratt, great-grandson of Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins.

    If you would like to attend please register here and sign the petition here.


     Cutting from The Suffragette




    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Emily-Wilding-Davison-Campaign-Launch.aspx Mon, 19 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Tutor Wins Green Award]]> North West WEA tutor, George Pilkington, has been presented with a Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice in the Wildlife and Conservation section for his company Nurturing Nature after competing against more than 500 other nominations.


    George Pilkington recieves award


    George has been a WEA tutor since 1994, teaching students about the environment, organic gardening and garden wildlife. His award is the culmination of many years of observations, experiments, designs, redesigns and trawling through scores of academic journals.

    The awards were organised by The Green Organisation an independent, non-political, non-activist, non-profit environment group dedicated to recognising and promoting environmental best practice. The awards were presented in the House of Commons on 12 November.

    For more information, please visit his website here 

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Tutor-Wins-Green-Award.aspx Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA supports Climate Change Week 2013]]> Climate Week

    The WEA is supporting Britain’s biggest climate change campaign, Climate Week, which will be held between 4 and 10 March 2013.

    Climate Week is a supercharged national campaign to inspire a new wave of action on climate change. It culminates with thousands of events and activities taking place throughout the week of 4 to 10 March 2013, planned by organisations from every part of society. Showcasing real, practical ways to combat climate change, the campaign aims to renew our ambition to create a more sustainable, low-carbon future.

    Climate Week is backed by every part of society - from the Prime Minister to Sir Paul McCartney, the NHS to the Met Office, the TUC to the CBI, Girlguiding UK to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. During the first Climate Week in 2012 over 3,000 events were attended by half a million people across the UK.

    You can get involved today by planning your own event for the UK’s biggest environmental occasion. This could be an event that highlights work going on in your community or organization to tackle climate change, or it could be one of the event ideas suggested below. By planning and registering your Climate Week event now, people across the UK will be able to see what is going on in your community and you will be able to inspire even more people to take part 2013.

    If you would like to arrange an event please contact Sebastian Hanley at shanley@wea.org.uk or visit www.climateweek.com to find out more.

    Event suggestions from Climate Week

    The Climate Week Swap is a new event for 2013, highlighting the positive impact that swapping clothes, books, toys, DVDs and other items can have on our environment. Run a swap event in your workplace, with your community group or at home and save resources from going to landfill. All those who register a Swap event will be entered into a draw to win a swap with a celebrity – Andy Murray, Frank Lampard, Zoe Wanamaker and Hugh Laurie are just a few of those involved!

    Bubble and Squeak for Climate Week is encouraging people to make the food that they eat a part of the solution to climate change. They can do this by joining in the call to action of eating a low carbon meal during Climate Week, either by using up leftovers to make Bubble and Squeak or by cooking food made from local ingredients or less meat and dairy.

    You can register now for the Climate Week Challenge, which is judged by celebrities and it is completely free to take part. The Climate Week Challenge in 2012 was Britain's biggest ever environmental competition, with over 130,000 people participating in the one day and one-hour versions.

    You can also run the Climate Week Pub Quiz in your local pub, community hall or voluntary group. The Quiz takes a witty and irreverent look at eco-issues, and it is free and easy to host. Last year over 230 Climate Week Pub Quizzes were run across the country.

    Communities and individuals can get involved right now by starting to plan an event for Climate Week. This provides a unique opportunity to profile your own initiatives and innovations to your community, your members and the media. You can also spread the word in advance, so that others find out about Climate Week in time to plan their own activities.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-supports-Climate-Change-Week-2013.aspx Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA October Visit to Turner-Monet-Twombly Exhibition at Tate Liverpool]]> Students at WEA North west shared a lovely day last month exploring the paintings and meanings behind the canvases at Tate Liverpool. Tutor Bernie Kennedy shares her experiences from the day...

    Tate Liverpool

    In all, 16 of us took part, including students attending WEA art classes, a couple of tutors and voluntary members. The natural light through the windows was atmospheric. I knew we were in for a good experience when I marvelled at a whole rainbow, overarching the river Mersey.

    The day was introduced by Alison Jones, Programme Manager: Public and Community Learning for Tate Liverpool who welcomed everyone. I then spoke about how excited the WEA is about being able to bring together a mix of adult students, of tutors and a sprinkling of voluntary members to share in what we anticipated to be an enriching, lively experience, outside of the classroom environment. Then, the artist, Susan McCall, introduced the outline for the day. She was to be our guide.

    Susan let us see how the paintings on display at the exhibition linked to the themes of power, beauty and space, atmosphere, fire and water and vital force. She held our attention as she demonstrated ‘markings’ on paper (vertical, horizontal, triangular) as guides to the intention of the artists. It was a way in to seeing how the artists’ works inter-related. A good start, I thought, and everyone listened intently, not wanting to miss a thing.

    The rest of the morning was taken up by viewing the artworks, including Monet’s Water Lillies, among many glorious works on display. ‘Lillies symbolise grief’, Susan told us. How far was Monet thinking of all the young men, killed during the First World War while he painted? In the afternoon, we got practical. Susan led the group, using first charcoal on a stick to take us out of our comfort zone, then paints.

    Everyone seemed to enjoy the workshop. It was only our second collaboration between Tate Liverpool and WEA North West and everyone was enthused by it. We hope in finding out about these opportunities for learning, more and more people will find their way to the WEA, to Tate Liverpool or to others to see and talk about art in a new and fresh way, one which forces them to question their own experience. ‘How will we know?’, someone was heard to ask. ‘By looking again at the paintings and asking why…’, came back the reply.



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/tateliverpool.aspx Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[BIS Research on Adult Learning]]> The Department for Business Innovation & Skills has released research that shows adult learning can boost life satisfaction in the same way as a £750 a year pay rise.

    The full press release from BIS can be found below or here.

    Learning mirrors pay rise boost to happiness

    Learning a language or brushing up on your maths skills in your spare time can boost your life satisfaction in the same way as a £750 a year pay rise, according to new research.

    That was one of the findings from research carried out by leading academics into the benefits of adult learning, commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which also found:

    • People who take an adult learning course, ranging from an art class to improving IT skills, have better health, are less likely to be depressed and visit their GP less regularly
    • Those with poor basic skills tend to have worse health: for example, people who struggle with maths are three times more likely to have health problems
    • Learning boosts self-confidence and raises people’s aspirations, with those taking part more likely to further their career and expect higher salaries
    • People in their fifties and sixties also benefit, with learning offsetting a natural decline in wellbeing as we age.

    Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said:

    “Poor basic skills contribute to a downward spiral for too many people preventing them from reaching their potential. That is why we are funding free maths and English GCSEs for all adults who need them, and for those requiring maths and English in apprenticeships.

    “This research shows how adult learning, whether it’s a course to further someone’s career or an evening class for enjoyment, has the potential to change lives for the better, whilst also creating a highly-skilled nation that will help businesses to get the skills they need to grow and boost our international competitiveness.”

    Fiona Aldridge, Head of Learning for Work at NIACE, said,

    “Time and time again, adult learners and those who work with them, tell us about the many benefits that they experience as a result of taking part in learning. In particular, the stories of learners nominated for Adult Learners’ Week awards provide powerful accounts of the wide-ranging impact that learning can have on people’s confidence and self-esteem, their health and well-being, their family and parenting, their employability and career prospects and their involvement in their community.

    “We are extremely pleased that this series of reports provides further systematic evidence of the extent of the benefits that adults can experience as a result of their learning. We look forward to seeing how this will underpin practice and policy across government going forward.”

    The research looked at how people taking adult learning courses would rate their boost in happiness in terms of money. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey, it concluded that one course would improve life satisfaction in the same way as a pay rise of around £750.

    The other studies looked into areas including the relationship between adult learning and wellbeing, the contribution of basic skills on health in adults and the impact of learning on the wellbeing of older people.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/NIACE-Research-proves-value-of-adult-learning.aspx Mon, 12 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Open University Partners with WEA]]>  The Open University (OU) and the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) have announced a new strategic partnership, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, that will remove barriers to adults wishing to enter further or higher education by providing practical training and freely available learning resources.


    Ruth Spellman and Rajay Naik sign MOU

    WEA Cheif Executive Ruth Spellman and Director of Government and
    External Affairs at the Open University signing the memorandum of
    understanding in parliament


    The partnership brings together two national organisations with a combined total of over 150 years’ experience in delivering adult education. Both are committed to increasing participation by adults in learning by researching their needs and creating learning pathways that raise aspiration and progression and by targeting those learners who are on low incomes and whose previous education level is below that traditionally required for University entry.

    The current economic climate has already started to squeeze an entire generation of adults out of education with recent evidence suggesting an increasing detachment from formal learning. The National Adult Learner Survey 2010, released in October this year by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), showing that adult participation in all categories of learning in the last three years has declined by 11 per cent since 2005. Meanwhile research from the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) released in September suggested that there had been a further four per cent reduction in adult education participation since 2010.

    The new partnership seeks to reverse this trend, by identifying the common problems facing adults who want to return to education and seeking to understand how potential students can be encouraged to gain the new skills and training they need to further their employment prospects, a particularly important activity in times of economic downturn.

    The partnership will also see WEA students using the OU’s wide range of OpenLearn resources. In return, the WEA has developed a range of community health education resources which can be converted into an online learning resource for both OU and WEA students. These will help health providers develop preventive strategies for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

    WEA Chief Executive, Ruth Spellman, said:

    “In recent years we have seen an increase in social inequality and a decline in social mobility. This can only be addressed if people have access to the education services that enable them to reach their full potential. While it is important young people are supported, many adults find it difficult to get work despite having up to another 40 years until retirement.”

    Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said:

    “If we’re going to get Britain’s economy back on track, we have to make sure that workers of all ages have the skills they need to compete – it’s not enough just to focus on 18-year-old school leavers. I’m delighted that the OU and WEA will be working together to open up higher education to an even wider range of adult learners, helping to make that vision a reality.”

    The OU and WEA will promote links through their websites and plan to develop future campaigns together on widening participation and on the importance of education for the UK.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Open-University-Partners-with-WEA.aspx Mon, 12 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Open University Partners with WEA]]>  

    The Open University (OU) and the Workers’ Education Association (WEA) have announced a new strategic partnership, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, that will remove barriers to adults wishing to enter further or higher education by providing practical training and freely available learning resources.


    Ruth Spellman and Rajay Naik sign MOU

    WEA Chief Executive Ruth Spellman and Director of Government and
    External Affairs at the Open University signing the memorandum of
    understanding in Parliament.


    The partnership brings together two national organisations with a combined total of over 150 years’ experience in delivering adult education. Both are committed to increasing participation by adults in learning by researching their needs and creating learning pathways that raise aspiration and progression and by targeting those learners who are on low incomes and whose previous education level is below that traditionally required for University entry.

    The current economic climate has already started to squeeze an entire generation of adults out of education with recent evidence suggesting an increasing detachment from formal learning. The National Adult Learner Survey 2010, released in October this year by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), showing that adult participation in all categories of learning in the last three years has declined by 11 per cent since 2005. Meanwhile research from the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) released in September suggested that there had been a further four per cent reduction in adult education participation since 2010.

    The new partnership seeks to reverse this trend, by identifying the common problems facing adults who want to return to education and seeking to understand how potential students can be encouraged to gain the new skills and training they need to further their employment prospects, a particularly important activity in times of economic downturn.

    The partnership will also see WEA students using the OU’s wide range of OpenLearn resources. In return, the WEA has developed a range of community health education resources which can be converted into an online learning resource for both OU and WEA students. These will help health providers develop preventive strategies for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

    WEA Chief Executive, Ruth Spellman, said:

    “In recent years we have seen an increase in social inequality and a decline in social mobility. This can only be addressed if people have access to the education services that enable them to reach their full potential. While it is important young people are supported, many adults find it difficult to get work despite having up to another 40 years until retirement.”

    Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said:

    “If we’re going to get Britain’s economy back on track, we have to make sure that workers of all ages have the skills they need to compete – it’s not enough just to focus on 18-year-old school leavers. I’m delighted that the OU and WEA will be working together to open up higher education to an even wider range of adult learners, helping to make that vision a reality.”

    The OU and WEA will promote links through their websites and plan to develop future campaigns together on widening participation and on the importance of education for the UK.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Open-University-partners-with-WEA.aspx Fri, 09 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Making a Difference Event]]> •    Parliamentary event launched by shadow education secretary and WEA patron Stephen Twigg MP

    •    Event chaired by patron Baroness Shephard and supported by patron Sir Bob Russell MP

    •    WEA Chief Executive Ruth Spellman launched parliamentary friends initiative

    •    Partnership agreement between WEA and Open University signed

    •    WEA 2012 award winners announced

    •    First WEA Ambassador appointed


    Over 250 staff, students and tutors from across the UK packed into the Houses of Parliament for the WEA Making a Difference parliamentary event and awards ceremony.

    Launched by WEA patron and shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg, the parliamentary event included a panel discussion chaired by Baroness Shephard and a speech by Rajay Naik, Head of Government and External Affairs at the Open University, which launched a new partnership between the WEA and the OU.

    WEA Chief Executive, Ruth Spellman, also launched a new Parliamentary Friends Group to give students a voice in government and beyond.

    The event then moved to the nearby Abby Centre, where the inaugural WEA Awards were announced. A copy of the awards brochure, which detailed the winners is available here.

    The winners were:
    Olive Cordell Skills for Life Tutor 
    Laraine Clark - presented by Lynne Smith; WEA Deputy President

    Laraine Clark


    Olive Cordell Skills for life Student
    Luzayadio Mputo - presented by the Cordell family

    Luzayadio Mputo


    WEA Volunteer
    David Dennehy - presented by Baroness Shephard of Northwold

    David Dennehy


    WEA Student – Joint Award
    Alec Buchanan
    Julie Harrison - presented by David Hughes;  Chief Executive; NIACE

    Alec Buchanan


    Julie Harrison


    WEA Learning Group
    Tammy Spriggs, Lisa Harrington and Janine Ginno - presented by Graham Hoyle; Chief Executive; Association of Employment and Learning Providers

    Basildon Learners Group


    Diversity in Practice
    Tandrusti - presented by Rajay Naik; Director of Government & External Affairs at the Open University



    WEA Campaign
    Why Vote? - presented by Fiona MacTaggart MP

    Why Vote?


    Contribution to Sustainability
    Women’s groups at Clovelly - presented by Susan Pember; Director; FE & Skills Investment, Dept. Business, Innovation and Skills



    WEA Tutor
    Janet Henson - presented by retired WEA General Secretary Richard Bolson

    Janet Henson


    Innovative Partnership
    WEA and Horizons - presented by Barry Francis; Regional Manager; unionlearn



    Innovative Branch and WEA South West 
    Activ8 for Carers - presented by Eleanor Mills; Sunday Times

    Activ8 for Carers


    Special Recognition: Education 
    Sahira Tariq - presented by Audrey Mullender; Principal; Ruskin College

    Sahira Tariq


    Special Recognition: Support services and WEA Eastern
    Kathryn Coles - presented by Dick Taylor; Chair;  WEA Trustees

    Kathryn Coles


    Special Recognition: Long service
    John Hurst - presented by Frank Pignatelli; Pro-bono advisor; skills education training

    John Hurst


    WEA Scotland
    Bathgate Once More - presented by Charlie Lynch; WEA Trustee

    Bathgate Once More


    WEA North East
    Elizabeth Langdown - presented by Cliff Allum; Trustee

    Liz Langdown


    WEA North West
    Ties to the Past - presented by Lynne Smith; WEA Deputy President

     Ties to the Past


    WEA Yorkshire and Humber
    Beth Deakin - presented by Foizal Islam; WEA Trustee

    Beth Deakin


    WEA East Midlands
    Learning into Leadership on the Internet - presented by Lynne Smith; WEA Deputy President



    WEA West Midlands
    Shiyalini Mohan - presented by Anne King; Trustee

    Shiyalini Mohan


    WEA Eastern
    Kathryn Coles - presented by Rosemary Mayes; Trustee


    Kathryn Coles 


    WEA London
    Mike Bradley - presented by David Freeman; Trustee

    Mike Bradley


    WEA South West
    Activ8 for Carers - presented by Gordon Vowles, Trustee

    Activ8 for Carers


    WEA Southern
    Adler Mosaicists - presented by Gordon Vowles; Trustee

    Adler Mosaicists


    WEA Ambassador
    Nigel Todd - presented by Ruth Spellman; WEA Chief Executive

    Nigel Todd


    Ruth Spellman said: “I would like to give a special thanks to the staff, students, members, volunteers and award winners who came from across the country to attend the event. I would also like to thank our patrons for making the day possible, the MPs and Lords who came to hear more about the WEA as well as the Association of Employment and Learning Providers for their kind sponsorship and the WEA trustees for their on-going commitment and support.”

    More from the event will be posted on the WEA website over coming days so please watch out for more.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Parliamentary-Event.aspx Tue, 06 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Trustees’ Week 2012 Celebrates Charities' Unsung Heroes]]>

    Trustees’ Week 2012 begins today in celebration of the trustees, directors, board members, governors and committee members responsible for directing the business of charities.

    Organised by the Charity Commission, the third annual celebration features a range of events and activities from 5-11 November to highlight the work of these often unsung heroes who give their time, passion and expertise to help charities in everything from finance to project development.

    In the spirit of Trustees’ Week, the WEA wants to thank our Trustees and Committee members for their fantastic contribution to our national delivery of adult education and support.

    For more information about the events taking place during Trustees’ Week, visit their events page.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Trustees-Week-2012.aspx Mon, 05 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA wins Funding for Equality and Diversity Project]]>

    The WEA has been awarded £24,988 to deliver ‘Better for Everyone’, a project to advance equality, diversity and inclusion.

    Better for Everyone aims to develop, pilot and evaluate a model for measuring the impact of diversity practice in the Adult and Community Learning (ACL) classroom, and so improve diversity practice to increase the retention, achievement and success of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) students.

    Better for Everyone is a partnership project which will be led by the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) with advice and support from The Equality Trust.

    The award is part of the Equality and Diversity Partnership Project Fund, a collaboration between the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) and the Skills Funding Agency.

    In August, learning providers were invited to bid for grants worth up to £25,000 from the Fund, which was created to benefit the further education and skills sector.  The WEA was one of the diverse group of 44 providers from across the country who made successful bids.

    A total of 215 bids were made to the fund which was open to organisations in England whose primary function is as a provider of further education and training or, for the first time, a National Careers Service Prime Contractor.

    The projects that have been funded will finish by June 2013, but their impact will continue to be studied by LSIS and the Skills funding Agency until 2014.

    Mel Lenehan, WEA East Midlands Regional Education Manager and project lead said today "We are very pleased to be given the opportunity to drive forward practice in this area with support from LSIS. There is a clear need within the third sector for sector friendly models which will enable providers to improve practice and demonstrate impact of such improvement actions. We look forward to working on this with support from NIACE and the Equality Trust over the coming months."

    LSIS Chief Executive, Rob Wye, said: "We were extremely pleased to receive such a high number of applications and staff responsible for choosing the successful bids were faced with some tough decisions. If the fund had been bigger there is no doubt that we would have awarded more grants.

    "However we are very excited by the successful bids, especially as they are from a diverse range of providers. LSIS is proud to be able to support the sector through this project fund."

    The partnership between LSIS and the Skills Funding Agency to fund providers in this way to develop and disseminate innovative approaches to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is now in its fourth year, and in the previous three years it supported a total of 57 equality and diversity projects. The projects have been highly successful, pioneering approaches to engaging under-represented groups and delivering high-quality research into their needs. Details of providers’ work and findings are available on the Excellence Gateway and progress and learning from Better for Everyone can be followed on the project blog: betterforeveryone.wordpress.com

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-wins-equality-and-diversity-funding.aspx Wed, 31 Oct 2012 00:00:00 GMT en


    WEA Chief Executive, Ruth Spellman, has today signed a letter in The Guardian to support the campaign for a minute’s silence at the 2013 Derby in memory of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. Emily ran in front of the king’s horse on 4 June 1913 and died of her injuries four days later in the cause of granting votes for women. A full copy of the letter is below.

    Our mission is “A better world – equal, democratic and just”, so we are delighted to be supporting this campaign in tribute to Emily Wilding Davison and the sacrifice she made. If you would like know more or how to get involved please contact Sebastian Hanley in the WEA Marketing Department on 020 7426 3484 or email shanley@wea.org.uk. Alternatively add your name to the campaign petition here.

    Derby day tribute
    On 4 June 1913, the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison ran in front of the king's horse during the Epsom Derby and was knocked unconscious. She died of her injuries four days later, having never regained consciousness. Acting on the suffragette slogan "Deeds not Words", Davison's protest against the refusal of Britain's rulers to grant votes for women made her a martyr for democracy and women's rights. On the 100th anniversary of this, the most famous of all suffragette protests (Report, 25 October), we call on 2013's Derby to observe a minute's silence in tribute to Emily Wilding Davison and the sacrifice she made. To add your name to the petition go to bit.ly/SqTNuq.

    Bonnie Greer OBE
    Jeanette Winterson OBE Writer
    Miriam Margolyes OBE Actor
    Frances O'Grady New TUC general secretary
    Tony Benn
    Ceri Goddard Chief executive, Fawcett Society
    Professor Richard Pankhurst OBE Son of Sylvia Pankhurst
    Rita Pankhurst Daughter-in-law of Sylvia Pankhurst
    Ruth Spellman OBE Chief executive, Workers Educational Association
    Sally Hunt General secretary, UCU
    Christine Blower General secretary, National Union of Teachers
    Megan Dobney Regional secretary, Southern and Eastern Region of the TUC
    Diane Abbott MP
    Natalie Bennett Green party leader
    Lindsey German Author and campaigner
    Vicki Baars Vice-president union development, NUS
    Kate Hudson General secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
    Nina Power Senior lecturer, Roehampton University; author, One Dimensional Woman
    Louise Raw Historian; author of Striking a Light: The Bryant and May Matchwomen and their Place in History
    Yvonne Ridley European president, International Muslim Women's Union
    Mel Whitter London and Eastern Region women's organiser, Unite the Union
    Salma Yaqoob
    Laurie Penny Writer
    Romayne Phoenix Chair, Coalition of Resistance; Green party activist
    Paul Mackney Former general secretary, Natfhe
    Peter Barratt Great-grandson of Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins
    Jo Rust Secretary, King's Lynn and District Trades Council
    Sarah Levitt Head of arts and museums, Leicester city council
    Clare Solomon President, University of London Union 2010-11
    Elly Badcock NUS women's committee 2010-11
    Mary Joannou Professor of literary history and women's writing, Anglia Ruskin University
    Katherine Connelly Author of forthcoming biography of Sylvia Pankhurst
    Jacqueline Mulhallen Actress and writer
    Derek Taylor Author and journalist
    Anne Moore Museums Officer, Woodhorn Trust
    Penni Blythe-Jones Director, Centre for Creative Change

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Emily-Wilding-Davison-Memorial.aspx Wed, 31 Oct 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[NIACE launch Family Learning Inquiry]]>

    NIACE has launched its Inquiry into Family Learning in England and Wales and has issued a call for evidence of creativity, innovation, and efficacy in family learning.

    Family and adult learning organisations, as well as government department representatives and broadcasters, came together this month for a seminar to launch the Inquiry into Family Learning which was hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and attended by HRH The Princess Royal, patron of NIACE.

    The inquiry is exploring what needs to happen to place family learning back at the heart of policy, research and development.

    The seminar is the first of a series of events and focus groups to be carried out across England and Wales.
    As part of the seminar, WEA Director of Education and the inquiry's commissioner Ann Walker introduced WEA learners Cathy Thomas and Sarah Nichols as they relayed their first-hand accounts of the impact family learning had on getting their lives back on track. A blog of their stories can be found here.

    The inquiry’s call for written evidence asks for examples of creative and innovative practice as well as examples of how effective practice contributes to policy agendas. This will support a series of seminars and focus groups with local authority family learning managers, third and culture sector workers, policy makers, and schools and colleges over the coming months.

    More information can be found on the Inquiry website and pro-formas for England and Wales are now available to submit your evidence by Thursday 20 December 2012.


    The inquiry continues until 30 June 2013.



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/NIACE-launch-Family-Learning-inquiry.aspx Mon, 29 Oct 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Lord Lingfield Report Published]]> The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has today published the final report from Lord Lingfield’s Independent Review Panel on Professionalism in Further Education.

    The report, which can be viewed here, was commissioned by the government to see how to raise standards and professionalism within the FE sector.

    The Panel has concluded that the creation of a guild would enhance the status of the sector by providing a single body to set professional standards and codes of behaviour as well as develop qualifications. The government has announced it will take this proposal forward.

    The report also recommends that high performing providers should be given recognised and given more freedom through the award of chartered status. They have also suggested that teachers of English and Maths as well as those working with students with learning difficulties or disabilities should have specialist qualifications.

    Commenting on the report, Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of the WEA, said:

    “Lord Lingfield’s proposals for increased recognition of the professionalism of FE tutors through a new Guild will be welcomed throughout the sector as will providing Charter status for the highest quality providers.

    “We would particularly encourage high-performing colleges to reassess their roles so they focus on adults rather than 14-18 year olds. As Baroness Sharp has said in the NIACE report Colleges in the Community, colleges should become a 'dynamic nucleus' for their communities so they not only help people into jobs through skills training, but work to promote health, happiness and social cohesion. This can be best be achieved by forging links with other adult educations providers such as the WEA.”

    In parallel with the publication of the report, the Institute for Learning (IfL) has confirmed the IfL Board’s intention to become a voluntary membership professional body for teachers and trainers, focusing on their objective of excellent teaching and training and supporting individuals to be the best they can be in their practice. This follows the removal of regulatory functions by the government including the requirement to register; a requirement to carry out at least 30 hours of continuing professional development a year (pro-rated for part time teachers) and for new entrants to gain a QTLS or ATLS within the first five years of teaching.

    Having consulted with their members, the IfL has reported that 99% of members have chosen to stay with the IfL as their professional body and that it now has a membership of 77,000. For more information on the IfL please visit their website at www.ifl.ac.uk.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/LordLingfield.aspx Tue, 23 Oct 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Nominations open for Adult Learners' Week]]> Nominations are now open for the Adult Learners' Week Awards 2013! This is your chance to recognise the achievements of oustanding WEA students and innovate learning projects across England, at these prestigious awards.

    Adult Learners' Week will take place between 18th and 24th May 2013. There are two main award categories for the awards:

    • Individual Learners: for adults whose remarkable achievements have made a difference to their lives and have inspired others to take up learning;
    • Learning Projects: for projects which offer innovative learning opportunities that have a positive impact on the lives of their learners

    For information about the awards and to submit a nomination visit the Adult Learners' Week website. The deadline for submitting your nomination online is 13th December 2012.

    Anyone can vote for a inspirational friends, family, colleagues or students - you don't have to be involved in the teaching of students to nominate.



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/ALW2013.aspx Tue, 16 Oct 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Book Review: Roses and Ashes by Fred Hughes]]>

    The Lidice Shall Live! campaign is one of the greatest episodes nearly to be forgotten within the collection of towns and pit villages that make up North Staffordshire. The contribution of the WEA in this remarkable story of hope has been similarly shrouded in modest silence. Concerted efforts have been made over the last two years to revive the story of Lidice and now a new book by Fred Hughes includes the important contribution played by the WEA.

    Roses and Ashes is a short biography of Barnett Stross, doctor, councillor and MP, who become internationally famous for spearheading a global movement of solidarity when the Nazis destroyed the Czech village of Lidice, exterminating its men and transporting all the women and children. This atrocity was in revenge for the assassination of Reinhardt Heydrich, architect of the final solution. The destruction was celebrated in Nazi propaganda and then condemned in British newsreels. Perhaps it was the power of cinema that made this particular tragedy so vivid and this caught the imagination of a working population that had been undertaking courses with the WEA for the past three decades. The founding tutor of the WEA in Longton, RH Tawney, is mentioned in this book, as are tutors Anne and Stephen Swingler and Horace Barks, the councillor instrumental in the development of the Wedgwood Memorial College and the Esperanto movement. It was Barnett Stross's home in Shelton, which he donated to the cause of art and culture, which would become the Mitchell Memorial Centre and home of the WEA Hanley Branch, Cartwright House.

    A tutor would be a much lonelier figure without his or her class to challenge and strengthen their arguments, and WEA students - miners and other workers of North Staffordshire - are the heroes of this story. Struggling through war and only a few years after the devastation of Depression and the Sneyd Pit Disaster, on top of the industrial hazards which Barnett Stross did so much to highlight, they launched the Lidice Shall Live! Campaign with a bang which also made the newsreels.


    The Launch of the "Lidice Shall Live Campaign" - Stoke-on-Trent Sept 6th 1942 

    They donated £32,000 to the fund that eventually rebuilt Lidice in defiance of Hitler's vow that the village would be wiped from the map. It was a show of solidarity for the women and children who had lost everything on June 10th, 1942. The Rose Garden and Memorial grounds of the old Lidice went on to become an enduring symbol of hope for the whole world and ambassadors continue to mark the anniversary with wreaths 70 years on.

    Amongst the crowds of stressed, fragmented, recession-hit Stoke, it can be hard to imagine whether anything could inspire people in the same way as the Lidice campaign did, in the midst of war and strife. We can only hope for leaders to inspire, and quiet crowds to rise as equals to the challenges that face us today. We have a lot to learn from the history of our forefathers, great men and women who still give a city a reason to be proud, 70 years on.

    Roses and Ashes by Fred Hughes, 46pp, is available for £5.99 from Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
    A powerpoint presentation about the Lidice story has been made available for tutors by the Artbay, who have led the local campaign to remember the Lidice story.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/bookreview.aspx Tue, 09 Oct 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA project shortlisted for prestigious award]]> The Open Door – Tackling Disabilities Hate Crime project has been recognised by the TES FE Awards 2012 by being shortlisted for the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community’ award. This is the second time that the WEA Yorkshire and Humber region have been up for a TES FE award.

    The Y&H WEA project developed in response to Mencap’s Living in Fear research, which found that 88% of people with learning disabilities surveyed had been bullied in the past year (with 66% bullied on a monthly basis and 32% bullied on a daily basis).


    Open Door

    “Copyright photograph courtesy of the Telegraph & Argus, Bradford – www.telegraphandargus.co.uk


    The aim of the Open Door project was to raise awareness and change attitudes towards disability hate crime. Twelve people, all of whom experienced bullying due to their disability joined a WEA course exploring hate crime and coping tactics for victims.

    The purpose was to form a training co-operative for adults with learning disabilities and develop a training package highlighting hate crime. Students contributed to the production of a video (below) and delivered a series of workshops to at the Ilkley Literature Festival, New Mill Staff Safeguarding training and Waddiloves Health Centre.

    There were many challenges associated with the Open Door work, not least due to the sensitive nature of the topic discussed. The tutor Mark Goodwin worked extremely hard to build a high level of trust with the students so they felt safe to share their personal stories to a wider audience. One student commented “I feel more confident and speak out more. I want people to be aware of these crimes”. Mark has been ably supported by Jane Bilton, the WEA Organiser for Bradford & Craven.

    The acknowledgment from TES is testimony of the hard work and dedication from the WEA staff and students.  

    The TES FE Awards 2012 ceremony will take place on 15th November.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/opendoor.aspx Fri, 05 Oct 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA on News at Ten]]> Shaheen Aziz (pictured below) spoke on ITV News at Ten about her experience of attending WEA Literacy and Numeracy courses at Midland Road Children’s Centre in Bradford.

    Student Shaheen Aziz

    Credit: ITV News

     Shaheen left school without any qualifications. She said: ‘You feel like a nobody….it’s as if I can't actually have a decent conversation with somebody without a literacy background but after passing Literacy and Numeracy exams with WEA and gaining knowledge and certificates, I feel I can be a somebody too!’

    Literacy is a wonderful subject and feeds the imagination’, says Shaheen, ‘doing the literacy course has helped me with my CV, filling in application forms and preparing speeches for interviews’.

    Shaheen has gone on to do voluntary work with Home Start and with a ‘Restorative Justice’ scheme in Bradford.

    Tutor Hazel Richardson says: ‘Shaheen is a great student and good role model in the group. Literacy supports individual goals to success. Shaheen works as a driving instructor and has an early morning cleaning job, but she always fits in her study as well.’

    Shaheen is currently working towards a Maths Level 2 OCR qualification with WEA.

    As part of ITN’s Great North Road journey from North to South, looking at the UK economy and skills of the workforce, Shaheen was interviewed by Laura Kuensberg.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/newsatten.aspx Wed, 03 Oct 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Black History Month]]> Black history month has been celebrated widely for many years honouring the achievements, culture, and the history of black people. Every year throughout October people, schools, libraries, groups and organisations host events and get involved with the celebration of black history.

    Black History Month

    Find out about events in London and the North West here.

    History behind Black History Month


    Black History Month originated in the United States of America, where it is celebrated in February each year.

    It started in 1926 when Carter G Woodson, editor for thirty years of the Journal of Negro History, established African Caribbean celebrations in America. Its purpose in America was to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of African Americans in keeping alive their heritage, traditions and histories.

    In Britain, Black History Month was first celebrated in October 1987 as part of African Jubilee Year.

    The decision to make this an annual event each October was supported by the Association of London Authorities. It has since grown to recognise and embrace the contributions and traditions of other black communities.

    Black History Month events recognise the rich cultural diversity and heritage of our communities and help to celebrate the huge achievements of black people and their lives.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/blackhistorymonth.aspx Mon, 01 Oct 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA at London Film Festival]]> The new work by Turner Prize Nominee Luke Fowler is being shown during 56th British Film Institute London Film Festival. The film explores the role played by left wing intellectuals in working class communities of post-war Yorkshire.

    Night schools organised by WEA adults with no access to further education were taught by WEA tutor EP Thompson. His journals written during this time are read out against the backdrop of contemporary and archival footage of the Yorkshire area.

    WEA archives

    The film will be shown at 6pm on 10th October at the Institute of Contemporary Art and again at 4pm on 21st October at the National Film Theatre. For booking details click here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/londonfilm.aspx Thu, 20 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Big Lottery funding for WEA project]]> Following a bid to the Big Lottery Fund, the educational charity Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) has been awarded £978,147 to work in partnership with residents of Wingrove, Newcastle upon Tyne, build a sustainable future for the community. ‘Greening Wingrove’ will address issues of climate change in a ‘Sustainability Centre’ where people will learn how to grow their own food, reduce energy and water use, how to insulate their home and recycle.

    Greening Wingrove

    Around 10 ‘Community Champions’ will be trained each year to give advice and support to the community in Wingrove including those on low-incomes or older people who are less likely to cope with the negative effects of climate change, heat waves or severe cold weather.

    Some changes to the area have already taken place including improved allotments, free home insulation, bee conservation, garden festivals and eco projects. Gardening starter kits have been given to residents and volunteers have participated in street cleans ups and planting trees and shrubbery.

    This new funding from Big Lottery will take the scheme one step further by engaging communities in how to live sustainably. Other partners in the scheme include, the Greening Wingrove community partnership, The Time Exchange, Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council and The Co-operative Group.

    Nigel Todd, Deputy Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport in Newcastle, and a Wingrove resident, has been involved in the project.  He commented: ‘'This is terrific news for an inner city area in Newcastle.  The project builds on the work of the community based Greening Wingrove partnership over the past two years, and we're delighted that the WEA is a key partner.'

    The WEA provides part-time course to over 70,000 adults a year. For many these provide the skills and confidence to change their lives and local community. Staff will use their teaching and lifelong learning skills to pass over valuable information to local communities, to improve the quality of life in the area.

    Watch video on the project...


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/biglotteryne.aspx Fri, 07 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Counting on a Greener Scotland]]> The Workers’ Educational Association Scotland (WEA), in partnership with Meteorologist Heather Reid OBE, have produced an educational pack focusing on weather, climate change and energy.  The Counting on a Greener Scotland (COGS) pack is aimed at adults and young people and has been funded by Education Scotland.

    WEA Scotland logo

    Counting on a Greener Scotland Numeracy Resource Pack is a great resource for practitioners and learners to study numeracy in a vibrant, relevant and useful context.

    The pack is full of useful and easily accessible information and aims to provide opportunities for learners to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding of numeracy, in the particular contexts of weather, climate change and energy and their impact on everyday lives.  There are many interactive and thought provoking activities that use numeracy to explore the themes outlined in the pack.

    The pack was launched at an event at Whitelee Windfarm Visitors’ Centre recently by Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages.

    Dr.Allan told delegates:

    “I am pleased to recommend a learning resource that is empowering, relevant, inspiring and important to learners, tutors and communities.”

    Jayne Stuart, Director, WEA Scotland said:

    “Becoming confident to think and act on the issues that are important to us is just one of the benefits of education.  Learning about world issues and their relevance to peoples’ everyday life, brings things like climate change and our energy needs home to us in a way that leaves a lasting impact.  Working with tutors and learners, WEA Scotland has shared expertise to lead increased understanding of our role in contributing to a greener Scotland.”

    Heather Reid (OBE), Educational Consultant said:

    “Climate change and how we meet our energy needs, are two of the biggest challenges facing our global society.  I hope the 'Counting on a Greener Scotland' learning resource can raise awareness about these important issues and help develop the necessary numeracy skills for learners to make informed decisions now, and in the future.”

    Alan Armstrong, Strategic Director for Lifelong Learning at Education Scotland said:

    “These roadshows will inspire new learning opportunities to promote the development of skills, knowledge and understanding of numeracy in the context of looking at key environmental issues.”

    Stephen Breslin, Chief executive of Glasgow Science Centre said:

    “The pursuit and acquisition of knowledge is not confined to childhood and the classroom - all men by nature desire knowledge.  We are delighted to support and help develop initiatives and resources that provide lifelong learning opportunities.  Glasgow Science Centre is committed to encourage people of all ages to develop their understanding of science, technology, engineering and maths.”

    Over the coming months, the WEA will be distributing the pack through 3 national roadshows (Glasgow, Fife and North Scotland) incorporating workshops where practitioners can experiment with the resources highlighted in the pack.

    The roadshows will showcase this exciting and innovative Resource Pack and provide great opportunities for practitioners to meet, work together and plan how to use the resources within the pack.

    Glasgow Science Centre, have contributed resources to the pack and are kindly hosting the first COGs roadshow on 6th September.

    For more information on WEA Scotland please visit the website.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/greenscotland.aspx Tue, 04 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Olive Cordell Awards 2012]]> The winners have been announced for this year’s Olive Cordell awards! The awards recognise outstanding achievements by one student and tutor in the WEA Skills for Life provision and will be presented at the Adult Education parliamentary event on the 7th November in Westminster.

    Olive Cordell herself was a community studies tutor for the WEA, leaving a lasting legacy which is celebrated annually in her name.

    Laraine Clark

    Laraine Clark from Basildon, Essex has won the award for Skills for Life tutor of the year. Laraine teaches numeracy and literacy to adults who face multiple and complex barriers to learning, including mental health and social and economic disadvantage. Many of her learners have had negative experiences of school and she has been praised for providing a “supportive, friendly, encouraging and welcoming environment” in which students can learn.

    Originally working in a bank, she quit her job in pursuit of a career that would enable her to be a good role model for her two young children.

    A close friend of hers, Dave Harrington, first encouraged her to go into teaching and she volunteered in his class as a support worker, not feeling that confident. She then went on to do a Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector course at Anglia Ruskin University.

    Dave supported Laraine every step of the way until he sadly passed away one month into her course. She carried on with the course, with his kind words of encouragement in mind.

    “I was such a vulnerable person at first. I thought I thought couldn’t teach, I wasn’t capable. As the years have gone on, hearing the feedback from learners, I have realised that I am making a difference. I am passing on valuable skills and motivating students to make changes. To be nominated for this fantastic award just shows that this has all been recognised.”

    Lariane works hard with each individual student, teaching not only English and Maths but life skills such as communication. She has positively impacted students’ lives by raising confidence and self-esteem levels as well as coaching them to pass exams. “I try to empower my students so they can speak out, feel comfortable and communicate effectively in everyday life. They have had such bad experiences of school and home life, abusive relationships and so on. To trust an adult can be quite difficult for them. I try really hard to build up individual relationships with them. They think of me as a friend rather than a tutor.”

    When asked how it feels to have won Laraine replied, “It feels absolutely wonderful. For someone to take the time to think of me and nominate me for this is overwhelming. The day I go to collect my award, I will never forget that moment.”


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/olivecordell.aspx Mon, 20 Aug 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Dressmaking & Soft Furnishings awards]]> An awards ceremony for the WEA Dressmaking & Soft Furnishings course was held in July at Gayton House in East London and was attended by learners and their families. The course was taught by Mona Nashed at the Burdett Neighbourhood Centre in East London and run in partnership with Poplar HARCA giving learners an opportunity to create professional quality garments and soft furnishings.

    Poplar Group

    The course content covers a wide range of topics including sessions on how to use a sewing machine, prepare fabrics, make a cutting plan, stitching by hand and machine and techniques of seams, hems, fastening, appliqué, piping, frill, pleating, basic quilting and decorative techniques.

    As part of the course, learners are taught how to accurately measure and estimate fabric and how to work out costings. Learners from this course are also encouraged to join another one of Mona’s courses that focuses on how to set up a business.   

    Alongside the awards ceremony was an exhibition of learners’ work with soft furnishings, clothing and workbooks on display - all of the work was to a professional standard.

    Learner Lawrencia Ikoli said this about the course ‘I enrolled on this course after buying two pairs of curtains that were not lined and after trying a number of shops to have them done, found the cost to be more than ready lined curtains.

    I found the course very inspiring and everyone was at different levels. The teacher used her expertise and knowledge to cater for us all. As a class we shared knowledge, socialised and laughed together.

    There was also an extended part of the course that dealt with the business side, in which maths played a big part. If you want your curtains to fit, knowing some maths makes a lot of sense. We also made a business plan and looked at costings. I made a complete pair of curtains and a lamp-shade to match. I lined my curtains which I enjoyed doing.

    I would recommend this course to anyone as it teaches you from learning to use a sewing machine to starting your own business.’

    For more information about these courses, please contact Elaine Taylor on: 020 7426 1974 or E-mail etaylor@wea.org.uk  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    For further information on courses in the London region please visit the website.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/dressmaking.aspx Tue, 07 Aug 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Government proposal for FE Guild]]> BIS logo

    The Government has published a prospectus for a sector-led Further Education Guild for professional standards, qualifications and training. The FE Guild would offer institutional and individual membership, both of which would be on a voluntary basis.

    The prospectus for an FE Guild also states that in response to the recent consultation on FE Teachers’ Regulations,  “the existing requirements for minimum qualifications
    (for further education teachers) will be retained for the time being”.

    Click here to download the full report.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/feguild.aspx Mon, 06 Aug 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA and St. Mungo's]]> The WEA course ‘Create a Radio Play’ was delivered in partnership with the homeless charity St Mungo’s and taught by Rowenna Mortimer from WEA London. The course was held at the Endell Street Recording Studio and supported by professional recording studio engineer, Matt Catlow from St Mungo's.

    Students on Create a Radio Play course

    The main aims of the course were to engage learners in creating and recording original drama pieces in a professional recording studio, to give learners an opportunity to gain experience in using industry standard recording & audio editing equipment and for learners to work collaboratively to produce radio plays.

    You can view the fantastic work from the course online - a series of radio plays collectively known as Market Diaries.

    Learners also participated in creative writing, voice acting, improvisation and in creating sound effects for their scenes as well as writing the scripts and planning and timetabling the rehearsals.

    The resulting work from this innovative course includes pieces of comedy, drama and soap opera and the finished results will be broadcast on Camden’s “Locked On” internet radio station, later this year.

    Established in 1969 the St Mungo's charity provides shelter and support for homeless people. In 2010/11 it helped more than 370 people off the street and provided accommodation for more than 1,700 homeless people every night. Its Skills and Employment team supported over 2,000 people to find work, training, further education or engagement in other activities.

    For more details on courses in the London region please visit the website.  

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/stmungos.aspx Fri, 03 Aug 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Continued Lottery support in Dudley]]>

    Following a successful continuation bid to the Big Lottery the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) in the West Midlands has been awarded £174,470 over five years. The funding will continue to support delivery of the Tandrusti Project.

    Tandrusti meaning good health and well-being in the main Asian languages is a leading-edge WEA West Midlands project that has used a community education approach to explore and promote the benefits of physical activity and healthy living amongst Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in Dudley. With learning programmes and activities which are cost effective and based in community settings. Tandrusti has run successfully for ten years following previous funding from the Big Lottery, NHS Dudley, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Dudley Adult Community and Housing Services and the Workers' Educational Association. During this time, the project staff team has established excellent working relationships with several partners and contributed to a range of health networks addressing local priorities within the Dudley Borough.

    Ruth Spellman, CEO of the WEA commented; "Since joining the WEA in April this year I have been overwhelmed by the fantastic work the WEA does to improve health and wellbeing in communities. There is no more inspirational project than Tandrusti which has been going for 10 years and which commands such loyalty and support. We are very grateful to our partners and to the National Lottery for their confidence in us, and their support. Long may it continue"

    TANDRUSTI will offer health education based around physical activity and medical conditions including Diabetes Care, Postural Stability Instruction (PSI), Stroke awareness, Community Gym, Healthy Towns Gym as well as information, advice and exercise programmes around the management and recognition of long term health conditions (LTCs).

    If you would like further information about this project please contact Howard Croft on 0121 237 8133 or hcroft@wea.org.uk.

    For information about other courses that the WEA provides please telephone the WEA’s Regional Office on 0121 237 8120 or visit our website www.westmidlands.wea.org.uk


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/biglottery.aspx Thu, 02 Aug 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[2012 Cultural Olympiad]]> PennantIn autumn 2011, a group of WEA North West students with physical disabilities from St Helens Day Opportunities took a tour of the People’s History Museum in Manchester to carry our research for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

    The students were enrolled on a WEA textile course and toured the Changing Exhibition On the March-An Exhibition of Banners Made by Ed Hall.

    The learners were so inspired by the work they saw that they went on to design and create their own banners for the project. One student commented ‘we had a marvellous time studying the banners’.

    The banners or ‘pennants’ Pennanthave now been sent to the Quilts4London project inspired by London 2012. The idea for the project was to produce  a gift for all the 140000 athletes competing in the Olympics and Paralympic Games. It seemed fitting to produce pennants as these are traditionally exchanged at friendly sporting events. The students at the WEA textile asked for their 23 pennants to be given to members of the Paralympics Team.

    Tutor Viv MacKenzie recognised the importance of integrating those with disabilities into the Cultural Olympiad and including them in activities and events that others can easily access.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/culturalolympiad.aspx Tue, 31 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Approach to Employability]]> • We believe that decent employment is the best anti-poverty strategy. Supporting disadvantaged adults wishing to go  into employment (or improved employment) is therefore an important part of our social purpose as the WEA
    •  ‘Employment’  includes self-employment and involvement in co-operatives, social enterprises etc.
    • As a Specialist Designated Institution (SDI), we offer complementary alternatives to Further Education Colleges and training providers. SDIs have traditionally played an important part in ‘employability’ most notably through pioneering work with ‘women returners’ and involvement in the second chance, return to learn and Access to HE movements. These initiatives enabled many thousand unemployed, unwaged and low-paid adults to progress into professional employment.
    • For us ‘employability’ has a wide remit and includes provision that directly prepares for employment; develops skills or knowledge that improve the student’s labour market position or supports the student re-engaging with society and may in the longer term lead to employment


    • Our community education provision usually has a range of outcomes for students, depending on their needs and ambitions; these may well change and broaden as part of the course experience. Outcomes include personal development, community involvement, employment and health improvement
    • WEA courses invariably develop a range of underpinning skills including communications, problem solving, team working, critical thinking and analysis, research and project management. WEA has always argued that these ‘soft skills’ have a great vocational value, a point with which many employers, academics  and trade unions such as UNISON agree
    • We work in many partnerships from hyper-local to national so that we can meet people where they are and can signpost relevant progression opportunities.
    • We focus on developing the potential of people who have been out of work for sustained periods and often face complex issues including mental health, homelessness and drug and alcohol dependence. We work to build their resilience and confidence and support their progress back into the community including volunteering and paid employment roles 
    • We deliver specialised courses such as ‘Helping in Schools’ and ‘Community Interpreting’  that often enable participants to enter paid employment
    • We offer Functional Skills (FS) courses within people’s local communities in friendly accessible venues. FS are nationally recognised qualifications in English, Maths and IT. They demonstrate that the student is able to apply these skills and understanding in a variety of situations and are particularly useful to those seeking employment
    • We deliver Health education which improves physical and mental health and helps people gain work and perform well at work
    • As the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education, we offer a range of volunteering opportunities that can give people skills which we know employers value. People act as Community Learning Champions, Branch Volunteers and Voluntary Education Advisers or can undertake supervised voluntary work placements.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/employability.aspx Mon, 30 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Review of the Charities Act 2006]]> Lord Hodgson

    The report suggests over 100 policy changes to laws and regulation surrounding charities, the overarching aim being to deregulate and simplify the current framework. Hodgson proposes to prioritise the core functions of the Charity Commission, including maintaining a register of charities, tackling abuse of charitable status and providing an information service whilst reducing many of the accounting and reporting requirements.

    The report entitled, “Trusted and Independent: Giving charity back to charities” states the following, “The Charity Commission exercises a number of functions and grants a number of permissions that could be moved elsewhere, or removed altogether, to streamline regulation.”

    More controversial proposals suggest that charities earning more than £1 million should be allowed to pay their trustees without gaining permission from the Charity Commission, and charities earning below £25,000 need not register with the Charity Commission.

    Rosamund McCarthy, a Partner specialising in charity law at Bates Wells & Braithwaite, comments,
    “Inevitably in such a detailed Report there are some proposals which will be a disappointment to some, but we are particularly pleased that the Report emphasises the importance of public benefit as well as innovative proposals for social investment.”
    For the WEA the proposed changes to simplify SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice) would undoubtedly be welcome as would the introduction of a simpler system of self-regulation for fundraising. However as with any deregulation the risk of unintended consequences needs to be considered. 

    The next step is a period of consultation, for charities such as the WEA, to voice our opinions on the proposed laws and regulations. The full review can be downloaded for free from the Cabinet Office.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/charitiesactreview.aspx Tue, 24 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Turner Prize nominee’s major new film]]> WEA archive image

    A major new film by Turner Prize 2012 nominee, Luke Fowler, explores the work of the historian and Workers’ Educational Association tutor Edward Palmer Thompson. It opened last month at The Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire and is featured as part of the London 2012 festival, a 12 week nationwide celebration running from 21st June.

    The work was commissioned by The Hepworth Wakefield, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Film and Video Umbrella through the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award. The film draws together archival material from television, the University of Leeds and the WEA together with contemporary footage. Stills from the WEA archive at London Metropolitan were also used.

    The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott features spoken extracts from E.P. Thompson’s document ‘Against University Standards’ (1950). E.P.Thompson was a Marxist historian, employed by the WEA to teach literature and social history in the industrial towns of Yorkshire after the Second World War, to those who had been unable to access a university education. Tutors like E.P. Thompson wanted to use teaching to create ‘revolutionaries’ and carry out the WEA manifesto of delivering ‘socially purposeful’ education for working class communities, still the WEA’s mission today.

    Fowler’s parents have long been involved with the WEA so when he was approached by Hepworth Wakefield he felt the urge to explore the history of the WEA’s teachings in this area.

    For more information on this and other exhibitions at The Hepworth Wakefield please click here

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/lukefowler.aspx Fri, 20 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA at International Co-op Day]]> WEA Co-opThe WEA and the Co-operative Movement came together at the International Co-operators' Day celebration held at Beamish North of England Open Air Museum on Sunday 8 July. 

    Over the past few years, the WEA and the Co-op have been reviving their historic links, leading to an invitation to host an information stall about the WEA at the Co-op's annual international day.  This year's celebration of world-wide co-operatives took on a special character as the United Nations has designated 2012 as UN International Year of Co-operatives. The WEA North East Region has worked closely with the Co-op over several years.

    The International Day also featured stalls from the WEA and North East Labour History Society's Popular Politics Project, that is charting radical history in the North East, the Woodcraft Folk, the Co-operative's Membership, Food and Funeralcare teams, the National Guild of Co-operators, Co-operatives North East, and several workers' co-ops.  Hundreds of Co-op members and their families came to the event, enjoying music, face painting, magical bees and meals in the Co-operative Cafe that is part of the former Annfield Plain Co-operative Society's department store now located in the Museum's Edwardian town.  The Annfield Plain Co-op was the very first organisation to affiliate to the WEA after the Association's foundation in 1903.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/co-op.aspx Wed, 18 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA committee member awarded OBE]]> Michael AllenMichael Allen, who was a member of Eastern District Executive Committee in the 70s and 80s, has been awarded an OBE for services to wildlife conservation.
    He is former chairman of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.  Aged 70, he is a past chairman of the Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust, and a member of the former East of England Regional Assembly.
    He said 'I spent a lifetime in adult education and collegiate work in Cambridge, and then took early retirement, which has given me the opportunity to throw myself into all sorts of activities, including the environment, which I'm passionate about.  I'm very touched to have been given this honour'

    Michael is pictured on the far left, in 1988, with the rest of the WEA Eastern District Executive Committee.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/michaelallen.aspx Tue, 17 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[£1.5m given to community projects]]>

    Since November 2011 the WEA has been awarding grants to community projects in the North West. They are awarded through the European Social Fund as ESF Community Learning Grants. The grants, of up to £12,000 aim to support work with some of the hardest to reach communities and to help people access further learning or training that could lead to employment. £1.5 million is available for these projects.

    The funding can be applied for by small community and voluntary groups, registered charities and social enterprises, with preference given to organisations with a turnover of no more than £300,000 per year in each of the last 2 years. There are five rounds in which grants can be applied for until December 2012.

    A few of the projects that have been funded so far include:

    Bridging the Gap, Portraits of Recovery – supports those with experience of substance misuse to develop visual communication skills and a sense of self-worth.

    Apex Charitable Trust, A4M – helps male offenders and ex-offenders to move closer to the labour market

    NESTAC, Costume Making - empowers immigrants by providing professional training while also promoting education, health and wellbeing.

    (all FM) 96.9, Employability FM - community radio station in Manchester.

    The Women's Centre, Step by Step to your Future - empowers people by developing confidence and skills that prepare them for the world of employment.

    For further details check the WEA North West’s information page email ESFgrants@wea.org.uk or ring 0161 277 5408.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/esffunding.aspx Tue, 17 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Top Italian rugby coach to support WEA]]> Rugby ball

    The Bumble Bees Barbarians is England’s only rugby team featuring players with and without learning and physical disabilities playing contact rugby union. Only three exist in the UK – the other two being in Wales.

    Bradford are pleased to announce that that Martino Corazza an Italian Rugby Coach and academic has received news that his application for an EU Grant has been approved. The 'Grundtvig Assistantship' will allow Martino a full season to observe and support Workers Educational Association (WEA) Tutors involved in Teaching Adults with Learning Disabilities, as well as bringing his own Inclusive Rugby Coaching Skills to the Bumbles Team.

    Martino, teacher, rugby player and Vice President of Chivasso Rugby Club said in his application to study in the UK... "A separate mention deserves the involvement with the Bumble Bee Barbarians. Given my qualifications and experience as integrated rugby coach, I will try to assist the manager in training and management team, to have the opportunity to share what they have learned and conquered in these years, and to start that groundwork to create an European sports integrated network that doesn’t exist, involving the other Italian (CoorDown, FIR), French (FFSA) and Welsh (Swansea and Llanelli Warriors Gladiators) organizations already in touch with us."

    Mark Goodwin Bumbles Player/Manager and WEA Tutor said... "this coincides with work done here in Yorkshire to expand Mixed Ability Rugby to other clubs. In conjunction with West Yorkshire Sport, local RFU Development Officers are supporting us to deliver a training package which will create new involvement in Inclusive Rugby.
    Interest has been shown from clubs in Kirklees, Calderdale and the North East, there is potential for the North of England to be at the hub of Europe wide changes in Rugby Union as players with Learning and Physical Disabilities as well as those with Mental Health Issues are encouraged to enjoy the benefits of contact rugby without prejudice."
    Llanelli Warriors Manager Gwilym Lewis who introduced Martino to the UK clubs, will also host a short visit from the Italian academic.

    You can find out more about Chivasso Rugby Club located in the Piemonte Region of Northern Italy by following the link here
    or for those unable to read Italian, type Chivasso Rugby into your browser and click on 'translate page' from the drop down menu.
    The Bumble Bees Barbarians are pleased to announce that that Martino Corazza an Italian Rugby Coach and academic has received news that his application for an EU Grant has been approved.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/bumblebeesbarbarians.aspx Wed, 11 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Vacancy for Chair of Trustees]]>

    For over 100 years, the WEA’s Trustees have been grown from among the ranks of its membership, usually from its student body. This is still true today, although we now also recruit a third of our Trustees from outside the WEA, in order to ensure the highest standards of governance and the Trustee body has the skills and diverse experience to enrich the WEA’s improving reputation and success. Our present Chair of Trustees, Richard Taylor, will be retiring from his position in December 2012 and we have decided to appoint our new Chair through a selection process.

    We are looking to recruit someone with a strong commitment to the WEA’s aims and values, who will be able to bring the leadership skills and experience we seek. In order to be effective in the role, the Chair of Trustees will need to dedicate time to:
    • Visit the WEA London offices regularly
    • Liaise with the Chief Executive once a month to keep abreast of what is going on.
    • Attend as many functions as possible or send members of the Board of Trustees.
    • Deliver a report at the A.G.M and introduce the Annual Report.
    • Attend and Chair the Board of Trustees Meetings, and oversee the work of the committees through regular meetings with chairs (including two overnight development meetings).
    • Conducts key stakeholder briefings with the Chief Executive.
    • Involvement from time to time in projects and initiatives to which they are able to contribute their expertise and leadership skills.

    The Chair of Trustees will offer a key leadership role within the WEA and will work with others, particularly the President, to ensure the enhancement of the reputation and effectiveness of this value led, democratic Association. The Chair will recognise the value of education which transforms people’s lives, particularly those who live in the most disadvantaged communities of our country.   

    The WEA extends across England and Scotland. Trustee meetings have usually been held in London on Wednesdays, although Trustees must be prepared to travel widely within the UK, for which reasonable expenses will be paid.

    Download the application pack here

    Download the application and equal opportunities forms here

    Closing date: Noon 6th August 2012


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/chairvacancy.aspx Fri, 06 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Sustainability Competition Winners]]> Jenny receiving her awardDuring March 2012 WEA colleagues, members and volunteers were offered the opportunity to win an iPad 2 by putting forward their ideas for sustainable practices in the way the WEA operates. As you would expect competition was fierce with many creative and inspirational ideas being submitted. After much deLindsey receiving her awardliberating the Sustainability, Inclusion and Diversity team emerged with three winning entries with the winners being named as Lindsey Tasker, Jenny Spencer and Zara Handley.

    The three winners of the competition were awarded their iPad 2′s by the WEA’s new Chief Executive Ruth Spellman, who was visiting the East Midlands region to meet colleagues, members and volunteers and learning more about the WEA’s work across the East Midlands.

    Find out more here.

    Zara receiving her award 

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/sustainabilitycompetition.aspx Wed, 04 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Lines of Enquiry]]> As part of the Lines of Enquiry project the WEA and Lancashire Museums ran a series of master classes. These were intensive weekend craft based courses led by practitioners in the fields of contemporary and traditional crafts. Students worked within museum settings and acquired inspiration from the surroundings and the museum collections. They came from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, which added diversity and richness to the outcomes. Master classes included:

    Sampler Course

    panel 1

    Learners were asked to produce a textile sampler which developed their creative and critical skills as the result of a 'line of enquiry'. As a starting point they were shown textile pieces and artefacts from the Museums Loan Service to inspire and nurture their personal innovative ideas.

    Learners were exposed to textile craft that reflected traditional English techniques such as patchwork, cross stitch and hand embroidery. There were then blended with Indian and Pakistani textile embellishments. Beading and mehndi were investigated through appliqué and transfer printing. 

    Textile Book

    panel 2

    This course was designed to help learners develop their creative and critical analysis skills by exploring a theme. The groups visited The Harris Art Gallery in Preston to look for their inspiration. They spent the day drawing and learning about some of the artwork within the galleries.

    Learners were encouraged to critically explore their ideas throughout the creative process and to create their own individual pieces of work stimulated from their initial responses to the artwork in the gallery.


    The Winder Project

    panel 3

    Folk to folk is a WEA acoustic course based in Lancaster. The group chose to work on the theme of traditional Lancashire music.

    Whilst in Scotland and Ireland the tradition of music for village dances is largely unbroken, in England it virtually died out during the Industrial Revolution and First World War. This courses focused on some of the remaining English traditional village dance music.



    Creative Writing

    panel 4

    WEA creative writing students, meeting at Accrington Library, used a variety of resources from Lancashire County Council's museums and libraries to inspire stories, poetry, memoirs and travel writing.

    These writing enquires began with some of the Museum Loans Service. A second short course included a visit to the Museum of Lancashire. The pieces of writing were recorded on video by their authors, or displayed in print in this exhibition.


    Jewellery Making Course

    panel 5

    This course looked at traditional and contemporary jewellery. Working from objects in the museum collections and contemporary jewellery, learners analysed the materials and construction techniques found in jewellery making both old and new. They then used the ideas and techniques that they had seen when designing their own pieces using contemporary, sustainable materials.



    For more information on this and other courses in the North West area please visit the WEA regional website.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/linesofenquiry.aspx Tue, 03 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Community Learning Volunteers in action]]> CLVOn 22nd June WEA held a conference for Community Learning Volunteers at Birmingham University. This was a key element in our volunteer development programme. 

    The volunteers represented all parts of England, having travelled from Plymouth, Slough, the Midlands, Yorkshire, Manchester and Newcastle to join the event. 

    They also represented the diverse range of roles that volunteers perform in the community, including: 
    •        classroom support,
    •        digital champions,
    •        community learning champions
    •        providing support to carers, rough sleepers and people with mental health difficulties.
    Many WEA volunteers have challenging personal lives themselves but find that volunteering gives them a focus, helps to develop transferrable skills for work and enables them to give something back to the WEA – all while having quite a bit of fun!
    At the end of the conference the volunteers involved presented their views to a joint meeting of the WEA Association Committee and Regional Chairs – speaking directly to the governance of the WEA to increase the influence of community learning volunteers in the strategic direction of the Association.
    After the presentations Colin Barnes, the WEA President, thanked the volunteers warmly and said ‘the passion, energy and commitment demonstrated by the Community Learning Volunteers was impressive and the WEA  will look seriously at the practical ideas and recommendations for developing improved training and support for volunteers

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/clv.aspx Thu, 28 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Have your say...]]> CLG

    Councillors and the Community, the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee at the House of Commons has issued a renewed call for evidence asking people to explain why they decide - or decide not - to stand at local elections.

    MPs on the Committee would like to hear from:

    People who serve their communities in voluntary, community or faith groups but have consciously decided not to run for election to their local council.People who have wanted to stand to be a councillor but have encountered specific barriers to becoming a candidate.

    Former councillors who chose not to seek re-election (within the past three years); the reasons for this and whether (or not) they would recommend being a council to others.

    Councillors elected within the last three years; what made them stand; whether the experience has so far live up to expectations and whether (or not) they intend to stand for re-election.

    Within these groups the Committee would particularly like to hear from those in sections of society currently under-represented on some local authorities. For example women, young people (including young business people), people from black and minority ethnic communities and disabled people.

    For further information please click here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/GLC.aspx Tue, 26 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Parliamentary event celebrates adult education]]>

    On Wednesday 7th November we're staged a day to promote and celebrate the true value of good adult education.

    More information on the event is coming soon but for more information, please visit our news page here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/parliamentaryevent.aspx Tue, 26 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[First year for WEA awards]]> For the first time this year a WEA awards scheme will recognise and celebrate the work and achievements of WEA students, partners, volunteers, tutors and staff.

    'Living historian' and WEA student Alan enjoys a river trip

    The new scheme will showcase innovation in our courses and highlight successful local and regional projects - and the people whose ideas and energy help to deliver the kind of adult education that makes a positive differences to individuals, communities and to society.

    Our guests, along with regional and national media, will join us to hear the stories and celebrate the success of WEA, students, volunteers, tutors and partners. The awards will profile the WEA’s ethos in practice and build recognition of the broad value of adult education.

    The ceremony will take place as part of a day's programme to demonstrate the positive impact of adult education and will follow a morning event at Westminster sponsored by our patron, Stephen Twigg MP.

    Categories for the awards inlude:

    •  WEA Student of the year
    •  WEA Volunteer of the year
    •  WEA Tutor of the year
    •  WEA Campaign of the year
    •  WEA Learning Group of the year
    •  Special recognition award: Administration and support services
    •  Special recognition award: Education
    •  Special recognition: Long service award
    •  Most innovative partnership activity
    •  Most innovative branch activity
    •  Best example of diversity in practice
    •  Exceptional contribution to sustainability through partnership and/or fundraising

    If you're attending a WEA class and wish to nominate a local volunteer, your WEA tutor or a helpful member of staff please contact your local WEA office.

    Photo: WEA student and 'Living Historian' Alan enjoys a river trip as part of Adult Learners Week 2012. The new WEA award scheme means students will be recognised for their achievements. Photo by Andrew Heptinstall.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/weaawards.aspx Tue, 26 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Learners showcase work]]>

    WEA London region ran an article earlier this year about Writing London, a creative writing course run by WEA London in partnership with the Museum of London and taught by WEA tutor Liz Sarkany, see the original article here.

    A booklet of learners' work from the course, together with images from the museum can now be viewed below.

    Most of the learners were absolute beginners at the start of the course and as you will see they have all produced excellent work.

    Here is an introduction to the work by tutor Liz:

    'One of the learners on the Writing London course noticed very early on that there were always excited groups of schoolchildren in the galleries at the museum. She liked this, she said, because it made things feel so alive. To do with now and the future as well as with the past. It’s this energy, running through the place like a heartbeat, that makes the Museum of London such a unique setting for creativity.

    We worked together in various ways: sometimes, our group of nine allowed their imaginations to take flight in direct response to the exhibits. They very quickly began to make stories out of, say, the poignancy of a shoe lost during the scuffle of an arrest, a chilling newspaper account of an execution, or the possibilities represented by the bag of a wartime bus conductress.
    Objects could be the starting point for linking in to personal experience too: an immigrant’s suitcase the focus for a powerful description of traumatic dislocation, wartime tins of food for a quirky account of life under rationing.

    And sometimes we used the exhibits to facilitate the seeing of the world in a new way, as a writer sometimes does: a watchman’s box, for example, becoming a beautifully drawn metaphor for loneliness.

    Inspiration was often to be found in surprising places: overheard conversations in the café, a chance meeting in a lift, found fragments of willow pattern china under glass in the floor beneath our feet.

    Nine adults from completely different places experience the same thing in nine completely different ways. That’s the other thing that gave this course its special texture. The generosity and curiosity within our increasingly cohesive group allowed nine very distinctive voices to emerge. These can be heard in the following pages.'




    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/creativemuseumoflondon.aspx Tue, 26 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Stories of the Tyne Event]]>

    The focus of ‘Stories of the Tyne’ was the river, but the real stars of the show were the people. An innovative learning event took place on the ‘Pride of the Tyne’ ferry to celebrate Adult Learners’ Week on 17th May.

    Organised by the Workers’ Educational Association in the North East, ‘Stories of the Tyne’ was an afternoon spent on the ferry travelling up to the mouth of the river, where it meets the North Sea, then up through the industrial landscape to the outskirts of Newcastle.

    This was no ordinary river cruise however. Its cargo was a range of experts in Tyne history, from retired shipyard and fish quay workers to volunteers from Segedunum Roman Fort and Bedesworld. Ordinary people became ‘Living Historians’ for the afternoon, sharing their own knowledge and memories of living and working on the river. Along with local songs from WEA volunteers and refreshments provided by ASDA in South Shields, the trip passed quickly and as the boat docked again, the passengers reflected cheerfully on the new things they had learned from each other.

    For more information please contact

    The Workers’ Educational Association, North East Region, Joseph Cowen House, 21 Portland Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1QQ

    Paula Baxter 0191 2126100 pbaxter@wea.org.uk
    Joy Nanarrow 0191 2126100 jnancarrow@wea.org.uk


    Photo by Andrew Heptinstall

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/riverboat.aspx Fri, 15 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[First WEA green branch event]]> Green Question Time

    Politics and the environment were centre stage at Newcastle's Green Festival in Leazes Park last week.

    A Green Question Time panel, arranged by the Workers' Educational Association's (WEA) new Green Branch, included local Labour MP, Chi Onwurah,  Lib Dem Councillor representing the Coalition, Gareth Kane, Green Party activist, Sandy Irvine and Ruth Hayward joint regional co-ordinator of Transition Towns Network in the North East.

    This was one of the first events arranged by our new Green Branch which was formally launched at the Green Festival by Chi and Gareth just before the QT Panel session.
    The questions to the panel brought some thoughtful as well as robust responses on trees and woodlands, economic growth and jobs, genetically modified food, cars and society, and co-operative solutions to housing problems.

    Chi Onwurah is the Labour MP for Newcastle Central and her Party's Shadow spokesperson on science, Gareth Kane, is the Lib Dem spokesperson on environment on Newcastle City Council, and Sandy Irvine is an environmental campaigner working to protect the green belt.
    Nigel Todd, secretary of the WEA North East Green Branch, said:

    'This was the first public event arranged by the new Green Branch, which has very quickly attracted almost 50 members from across the Region.  We're supporting WEA efforts to recruit more tutors with environmental specialisms so that we can respond to the threats posed by climate change that the UN believes are becoming more serious. 

    And, in advancing adult education with a social purpose, the Green Branch is identifying ways in which green activism can be supported.  Next October, for example, we're planning a major regional conference, with support from the Co-op and the Federation of Community Farms, to bring together groups that are concerned about food growing and the ways in which land can be used more sustainably.'


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/greenquestiontime.aspx Thu, 07 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Funding for learning now available!]]> Community Learning Innovation Fund

    The Community Learning Innovation Fund (CLIF), a new £4million grants fund from the Skills Funding Agency, administered by NIACE, is now open for applications.

    The fund is designed to support new and imaginative community learning opportunities that encourage adults to take up, succeed and progress in learning, is now open for applications.

    Organisations from across England can bid for projects to develop and offer creative learning opportunities that engage and motivate, in particular, disadvantaged adults.  
    Projects will be funded to run from September 2012 to 31 July  2013.
    • The maximum amount for any bid is £65,000 and the minimum is £10,000.
    • The deadline for applications for £50,000 or more is 12 noon, Thursday 28 June 2012.
    • The deadline for applications for less than £50,000 is 12 noon, Thursday 5 July 2012.

    CLIF will contribute to the Government's objectives for community learning of the recent policy reform document from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

    The Community Learning Innovation Fund can support a wide range of projects and activities in England - though all of them should deliver learning to adults.  For further information and for an outline of  the types of projects that can be funded click here.

    Who can apply?

    The Community Learning Innovation Fund is open to learning providers in England regardless of whether or not they currently receive funding for community learning directly from the Skills Funding Agency.  Bids are welcomed from public, private and third sector organisations from all backgrounds including culture, heritage, sport, health, community regeneration, environment, arts and crafts, broadcasting and technology.

    How to apply

    Applications can be made online only. Applications for £50,000 or more should be received by 12 noon, Thursday 28 June 2012.  Applications for less than £50,000 should be received by 12 noon, Thursday 5 July 2012.

    You can find out more information on the webpage, where a full Prospectus is available for download, along with Frequently Asked Questions which should answer most of your queries.

    If you have any questions about the Fund please check online first.  If you cannot find the answer to your query, please email clif@niace.org.uk.  Your question will be dealt with within three working days.

    Unfortunately NIACE will not be able to deal with queries by telephone and cannot enter into any correspondence once the closing date for applications has passed.

    When can projects start?

    Successful projects will be informed on Thursday 16 August 2012 and Funding Agreements will be issued as soon as possible thereafter.  If you are successful you can start your project as soon as you have signed and returned your Funding Agreement and by 10 September 2012 at the latest.  All projects receiving funding must have completed activity by 31 July 2013.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/clif.aspx Thu, 07 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Learners showcase historical finds]]> David WeldrakeThe Digability Project will be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund for three years. It allows people to take part in an archaeology dig where they would not normally be given the chance.

    The project is run across different locations in the Yorkshire and Humber region and will enable 300 individuals to learn new skills and uncover Yorkshire’s historic past. These individuals include adults with learning and physical disabilities, mental health service users and members of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

    An event was held on 9th May at Leeds Museum Discovery Centre, where participants from the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre and the Mariners Resource Centre for adults with physical impairments showed some of their archaeological finds.

    The WEA has worked in partnership with these centres for a number of years providing opportunities for their service users to socialise and learn new skills. Among the historical finds displpayed was a coin from the 1977 Queen’s Jubilee, a stash of coins found in France in World War 2, a series of fossils and an old decorative spoon.

    The event was introduced by Biddy Coghill, WEA Organiser who outlined the aims of the project and explained that the learners are doing a 20 session course with the first ten sessions focussing on theory and the second ten sessions focussing on field visits. Then, WEA tutor David Weldrake, pictured above, went through what the class had been studying and pointed out that the learners bring their own knowledge and skills to the sessions

     The course aims to get the learners to make sense of the world they live in. Using archaeological evidence and their own knowledge and experiences the learners will build up a picture of how people would have lived in the past; what environmental and geographical factors might have influenced the decisions they had made; their art, crafts and skills and the materials sourced and used; trade and trade routes and people migration etc.

    David Fletcher, The Senior Care Officer from the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre commented “This project along with other projects we are involved in with the WEA has given me the opportunity to see learners really grow.”

    For more information on WEA courses in the Yorkshire and Humber area click here.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/digabilityproject.aspx Wed, 06 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Interview with Anne Stott]]> Anne Stott


    On hearing of Anne’s recent book 'Wilberforce: Family and Friends', Andrew Perrin of WEA London took the opportunity to have a chat with her about her work.

    Anne has taught at the WEA, the Open University and Birkbeck, University of London, as well as various other adult education institutions for more than 35 years. She has published extensively on women and Evangelicalism, and her book, Hannah More: The First Victorian (Oxford University Press, 2003) won the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize in 2004. Anne is a participant in the Dissenting Academies Project run by the Dr Williams Centre and the administrator of the Long Eighteenth-Century Seminar, University of London.
    Anne began teaching classes for the WEA some years ago, as she describes; ‘out of a love for adult education’. ‘Teaching adults is different from teaching younger people, as adults are more able to relate information to their own life experiences in a way that younger learners can’t, this makes the WEA classes that much more interesting for me as a tutor.’
    Anne’s most recent work, a biography entitled: Wilberforce: Family and Friends about William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833) the politician, philanthropist, campaigner and leader in the movement for the abolition of the slave trade, was inspired by her extensive PhD research on his friend, the evangelical philanthropist, Hannah More.
    ‘Because of my experience in adult education, I wanted to re-present the academic information I had discovered during my research and make it as accessible as possible and to appeal to a wider audience than the academic text would allow.
    One of the most significant sources I used was the collection of Wilberforce family papers, letters and diaries in the Bodleian library at Oxford University. There was a similarly rich collection of the family papers of his friend Henry Thornton in Cambridge University Library.
    The papers took great deal of work to decipher and put in to context for use in the book. Although it took a lot of hard work it was also exhilarating.
    Technology has greatly improved academic research and can be empowering, as much research material has now been digitised and made available electronically. At the same time one shouldn’t rely solely on an electronic approach, as there will inevitably be something that hasn’t been seen for a long time and there is no substitute for the feeling that I experienced of untying the ribbon on a dusty box to discover invaluable papers that hadn’t been seen for years!
    For anyone considering writing a book I would offer the following advice:
    • Choose the topic carefully and investigate what material is available on the subject (for the historian, the National Archives website is indispensible) and be prepared to travel. I made two trips to Los Angeles and many trips to Oxford and Cambridge libraries while doing the research for my own book. 
    • Read out loud, if a sentence is hard to say it will be equally hard to read.
    • Balance longer and shorter sentences and choose the simplest words, i.e. ‘begin’ instead of ‘commence’.
    • Don’t rush! The Biography took me nine years to write and was a mixture of pleasure and pain.'
    Anne’s Blogs
    Anne regularly contributes to blogs (web logs) to provide information about her books as well as offering additional resources relating to her courses for learners.
    Wilberforce: Resources for Anne’s book
    Updates & additional resources
    Nineteenth-Century Britain
    A blog for WEA students at Bromley, Petts Wood and Orpington
    Book Review
    Wilberforce: Family and Friends was recently reviewed by the Independent and can be viewed online here: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/biography-wilberforce-family-and-friends-by-anne-stott-7528121.html
    You can also follow Anne on Twitter @annemstott


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/annestott.aspx Fri, 01 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Occupy Barlaston]]> 'Sunsong' by Jesper NeergaardOccupy Barlaston is a 'Day School' which will take place on Saturday 16th June 2012 at Barlaston Village Hall to celebrate the educational traditions of the Wedgewood Memorial College, which were carried out in the now empty college building. It will be organised by Save the Wedgwood Memorial College Campaign for which Workers' Educational Associations was one of the founding members. The campaign aims to save the building at the heart of Barlaston Village and local community.

    The day will consist of key-note forums and seminars with a review of the business plan for the future of the building. There will also be discussion groups on subjects around philosophical, social and political issues.

    For further details on the events and how to take part click here.

     'Sunsong' by Jesper Neergaard

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/occupybarlaston.aspx Thu, 31 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A big thank you to all our volunteers]]> Volunteers

    Volunteers are at the heart of the WEA’s activity and vital to our work. Individuals, local communities and the Association all benefit from the networking and influence that arises out of volunteering with the WEA.  All volunteers contribute to the WEA charitable mission by giving their time freely and making a difference in their communities. I would therefore like to send a big thank you to all of our volunteers as part of recognising that 1st to 7th June is volunteer week in England. This celebratory week is organised by Volunteering England and you can find out more about events taking place in your area. 

     Volunteers contribute to the work of the WEA in a staggering variety of roles including: 

    • Acting as Community Learning Champions to promote the value of adult learning, particularly in disadvantaged communities
    • Acting as a conduit for feedback from students as Class Secretaries and Learner Representatives
    • Arranging and promoting local courses through WEA branches
    • Voluntary Education Advisers (VEAs) working on the WEA/ Unison Return to Learn courses.
    • Running promotional and fundraising events
    • Providing classroom support by helping with skills development such as literacy, language, numeracy and IT
    • Supporting individuals with specific physical or learning difficulties
    • Working in offices to help with administration and publicity
    • Leading self-organised study circles
    • Sitting on branch, regional and national committees, up to trustee level, in formal roles such as chairs, secretaries and treasurers.  

    All these activities enable volunteers to develop their own skills and interests, and can lead to long standing friendships, more active social participation and, for some volunteers, employment. If you are interested in developing your skills whilst supporting the work of the WEA then please get in touch via volunteering@wea.org.uk

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/volunteersweekmessage.aspx Wed, 30 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Another successful Adult Learners' Week]]> Adult Learners' Week

    Adult Learners' Week 2012 proved to be yet another success with Workers' Educational Association scooping four regional awards. Here are some details of our other winners

    Julie Whittington from southern region recieved a Winning Learner award, after completing the WEA accredited Community Learning Champions course. She is pictured left with her mum Margaret who also picked up a Senior Learner Award. Both Margaret and Julie were nominated for their awards by Diane Morpeth, Community Development Worker for Sure Start Freemantle and North Shirley.

    Pat Howard, also from southern region received  a friendship award and has studied for many years with the WEA. The award was presented by the Deputy Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Elaine Norman. Pat was nominated by Christine Poutney and Lorrie Yeates from Ilford Branch WEA, but also attends courses at Wanstead branch. They are both in the borough of Redbridge.

    Ernest Woodrow from eastern region was presented with the WEA Regional ‘Learning for Wellbeing’ Award by Regional Education Maanger Phil Coward. Ernie also attended a Learning Champions course delivered by WEA in Norwich.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/summaryalw.aspx Fri, 25 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Joan learns IT skills and connects to family abroad]]>

    Joan King from Telford, Shropshire has been a WEA learner for a number of years and has completed a number of computer courses at the Telford Study Centre. When she first joined she knew nothing about computers and now she is using one to research her family history. This is what she said about WEA and her course…

    ‘I remember the first day I joined the WEA Computer Drop in I was terrified, I knew nothing at all about computers. I really felt my first day would be my last.

    I met my teacher Sue Blair, she was so keen to put me at ease, her help was wonderful, doubly so as I am disabled. I was really grateful.

    I’d taken my machine, a Dell notebook and Sue showed me how to use it. But after a short while she asked me to go on a desktop computer. WOW! I’d never believed I could do that, but with help and advice I learned so much.

    I am still in awe there is so much to learn and discover, every class I attend I come away feeling so good.

    I’d say to anyone give it a go you won’t regret it. I never have.

    Skype is amazing, my son lives in Australia, my granddaughter and family in New Jersey and I visit them all often. My son moved house and I was shown round his new home, I can see the street where he lives, each time I actually feel I’ve been on a visit.

    I recently won a gigantic Easter Egg and yes I was able to share my prize, they all saw it. Now that’s what I call truly amazing.

    Now I’m doing Ancestry, finding out all about my family. It’s all so interesting’

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/joanking.aspx Thu, 24 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Volunteers' Week 2012]]> Volunteers' Week logo

    Each year Volunteering England celebrates the time and effort millions of volunteers give in UK. As a volunteer organisation WEA supports this campaign and asks its volunteers to let them know about events being held this week to promote this great work.

    Throughout the UK organisations and individuals will be holding events to celebrate the contributions of volunteers and inspire others to take part also.

    As part of this WEA West Midlands will be running a four week ‘Confidence in Volunteering’ course in Handsworth, Birmingham, starting on 11th June 2012 for those who are interested in becoming a volunteer.

    This follows funding the WEA has received from the Big Lottery Awards for All Programme for a volunteering education project, based in inner city Birmingham.

    Find out more by visiting the WEA West Midlands regional website.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/volunteersweek.aspx Wed, 23 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Ruth Spellman appointed member of NCS Council]]> Ruth SpellmanThe National Careers Service, launched last month, has announced a new council to support the government led service. WEA’s Chief Executive Ruth Spellman has been appointed a member of the council.
    Ruth Spellman acknowledges the need for the new service and stressed the importance of careers advice for all adults, especially in today’s economic climate.

    She said 'I welcome the government’s announcement today that there will be a new council to oversee the new national careers service. In difficult economic times it is vital that young people and adults get high quality careers advice and support, particularly those people who are most vulnerable.’

    The WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) provides part-time course to over 60,000 adults a year. For many these provide the skills and confidence to change their lives and to return to the workforce. An independent service, accessible to adults from any part of the country is a valuable additional resource to people dealing with transitions in their careers or lives.
    She said ‘Any of us can lose our job and many of us need to acquire new skills throughout our working lives. I particularly welcome the all age aspect of the new service. As a newly appointed council member I hope to be able to contribute to the National Careers Service, support those who are delivering the new service and develop the gold standard service which has been clearly articulated by the Minister John Hayes.’

    Skills Minister John Hayes said:

     “The National Council for Careers will help to create a new beginning in careers guidance by improving professionalism, forging links with business and ensuring advice reflects the competition and complexity of the labour market.
    “I am delighted that Dr Deirdre Hughes and a team of experienced and dedicated professionals have agreed to work on this extremely important council which will be at the forefront of transforming careers guidance. The Council includes representatives from across the public, private and third sector, as well as from the careers profession, and with a range of backgrounds including HR, finance and communications.”

    Ruth Spellman is the new General Secretary & Chief Executive of the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) and took up her post at the beginning of April. She has previously had leading roles in the private, public and voluntary sectors. These have included the NSPCC, Investors in People, The Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Chartered Management Institute. In 2007 she was awarded an OBE for services to workplace learning.  She received an Honorary Doctorate from Cranfield in 2010.


    Find out more about the National Careers Service here

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/NCScouncil.aspx Mon, 14 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Two day challenge for memorial]]> Greg CoyneGreg Coyne, Education Director (Quality) and Lead Director for the North East and North West region of the WEA will be cycling from Whitehaven to Sunderland – a total of 131.7 miles on the 11th to the 13th of May. He will be doing the cycle ride with Ian Standish, Regional Education Manager for the North West Region of the WEA. They are fundraising for a glass memorial to international social campaigner Edmund Morel.

    WEA tutor, Tina Read, lives near West Kirby where Morel lived from 1897 until 1902. The memorial is planned for windows in West Kirby library. Tina has run a WEA course in West Kirby about Morel and Mary Kenny, Morel’s granddaughter, came to speak to the group. Morel’s family would be really proud to see a memorial to Morel in a place where he started his campaigning work on the Congo. The Congo Children’s Trust will be collecting donations for this project as they are happy to be involved in a project which raises awareness of the Congo; all donations from the Just Giving webpage will be ring-fenced for the Morel memorial. 

    Tina is going to be working as a WEA tutor at the Ark, the homeless charity based in Birkenhead. The participants on the course will create a design for the memorial on computers and then go on to work with Tina and glass artist Robbie Macoy  to make the memorial. The fundraising will cover the costs of the materials and having Robbie Macoy involved in this project. If you feel you can contribute in any way all donations will be gratefully received.  Despite being very well known during his lifetime, as far as we know, no memorial exists to Morel anywhere in the world. We hope the following paragraphs help to explain why we think a memorial is well overdue.

    In the late 1890’s Edmund Morel, a young shipping clerk working for a British shipping company (Elder Dempster) made a shocking discovery about the trade between the Congo (a new colony that King Leopold II of Belgium claimed as his own private fiefdom) and Europe. The ships sailing from Africa were filled with valuable cargoes of rubber and ivory and on return to the Congo they carried soldiers, military supplies and firearms - but no cargo. Morel realised there was no exchange of trade taking place and there could only be one explanation for the rich and lucrative cargoes: slave labour on a vast scale. Morel dedicated decades of his life to end these atrocities and he organised the first international human rights movement of the 20th century.

    Morel was born in Paris in 1873, he was brought up bilingual as he had a French father and English mother. In 1891 he left Paris to return to England having obtained a job as a clerk at the shipping firm Elder Dempster in Liverpool. The company made use of his language skills and whilst he lived in West Kirby he was sent to Belgium to supervise the company’s contract for shipping between Antwerp and the Congo. Through his work for Elder Dempster he was able to look at the books for King Leopold’s companies in the Congo and make his discovery that a forced labour system must be in existence. Morel dedicated years to his campaign against the atrocities in the Congo. His efforts helped to ensure that the Congo Free State passed out of King Leopold’s direct rule in 1908 and it was taken over by Belgium as the Belgium Congo. He then ran equally committed campaigns against the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles after the war.

    If you would like to sponsor them and support this project click here

    Powerpoint presentations on Morel's life and campaigns are available to download here:

    More information about Morel’s campaign against the atrocities which took place in the Congo is available from Adam Hochschild’s book King Leopold’s Ghost (1998) Pan MacMillan ISBN_0-330-49233-0.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/gregcoyne.aspx Wed, 09 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Cultural Olympiad 2012]]> torchFull details available on the One Day Schools and Federation Events pages of the Federation website and see link to the Olympic Film Festival on the Home page.



    Kelvedon & Feering Branch – Saturday 19th May – at Feering Community Centre, Coggeshall Road, Feering, CO5 9QB: free parking: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., £12 for full day, £7 for half, buffet lunch included: 
     a.m. 'More than Bread and Circuses: the Games in Greece and Rome' – Michael Bloomfield, popular WEA history tutor.
     p.m. The Development of Drug Testing in Sport and its implications:
    Tony Moffat, Emeritus Professor of Pharmaceutical Analysis, formerly Chief Scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
    Contact: Beverley Painter, 01376 570653, 24 Packe Close, Feering, Colchester, CO5 9LP.

    Chelmsford Branch – Wednesday 23rd May – Broomfield Community Centre, CM1 7AH: 2.00-4.00 p.m., with tea and cakes, £5 p.p.  Free parking: ‘OlympiArt’ (Sport in Art):  Graham Slimming.
    Contact Joan Black: 01245 354644 or Mike Wall 01245 353913  (69 Maltese Road, CM1 2PB)
    Great Oakley Branch – Monday 28th, Tuesday 29th, Wednesday 30th May – 11.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. Harwich 1912 Centre, Cow Lane, off Wellington Road, Harwich, Essex CO12 3ES: Olympics Film Festival – a programme of films and lectures on Olympic, Sport and London themes – Laurence Staig, former Open University tutor, Arts Council officer, lecturer in Film and Media at Warwick University, the Institute of Education, London, and founding Director of the Bath Literature Festival.  £12 per day, pre-course & mid-afternoon tea/coffee & biscuits included. 3-day ‘Season ticket’: £33.

    Monday 28th May – ‘All Stars and Movie Stars’: Great Sports Films
    Tuesday 29th May – ‘Olympic Images’
    Wednesday 30th May – ‘London in the Raw: The Olympic City in Film’
    Evenings: Film shows related to the courses, in the Harwich Electric Palace Cinema, next door.
    Contact:  Richard Colley, Stour House, Church Road, Wrabness, Manningtree, Essex, CO11 2TG, 01255 880868, sylvia.colley@virgin.net 



    Colchester Branch – Saturday 23rd June – 10 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. at Castle Methodist Church, Maidenburgh Street, Colchester, CO1 1TT: part of Colchester Branch’s June Day of Study (see Colchester’s leaflet and Federation website One Day Schools page for full details of all three courses on offer.)  
    £10 for the day.  Lunch etc. not included.
    a.m. ‘Becoming an Olympian: Nature or Nurture?’ – Professor Martin Sellens, Head of the Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex.
    p.m. ‘The Origins of the Olympics’ – Carl Murray, former Head of Classics,  Bancroft’s School, Woodford Green, Essex.
    Contact Jean Roberts on 01206 576506
    Loughton & Epping Branch – Thursday 5th July – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Abbey Church Centre, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1XQ: the Origins of the Olympics in Ancient Greece – Carl Murray, former Head of Classics, Bancroft’s school – illustrated lecture + tea etc £4.00.  Contact Pat Dale on 020 8281 1536

    Braintree Branch – Saturday 7th July – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Braintree District Museum Learning For Life Centre, Manor Street, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3HW (opposite the Old Town Hall).  £12 for the day, buffet lunch included.
    a.m. 'More than Bread and Circuses: the Games in Greece and Rome' – Michael Bloomfield, popular WEA History Tutor
    p.m. ‘Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat – the science behind drugs in sport’ – Professor Chris Cooper, Research Group Coordinator (Sports & Exercise Science), University of Essex, who has recently published a book with this title and been interviewed on the subject for the Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme. Contact David Stubbs on 01376 322017

    Hadleigh – Saturday 7th July – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Hadleigh Baptist Church, Falbro Crescent, Hadleigh, Benfleet, SS7 2SF: £12, including buffet lunch. 
     Wheels, Gears, Levers and Muscles - the Science of Cycling and Healthy  Exercise – Dave Parry, Human Performance Unit Manager, Centre for Sport  and Exercise Science, University of Essex.
    Contact Tina Nay on 01702 389137, 18 Arcadian Gardens, Hadleigh, Benfleet, Essex, SS7 2RP

    The Workers' Educational Association is a charity registered in England and Wales (number 1112775) and in Scotland (number SC039239) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (number 2806910).  Workers' Educational Association, 4 Luke Street, London, EC2A

    You can download the full brouchure here

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/culturalolympiad2012.aspx Wed, 09 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Long serving WEA tutor awarded MBE]]> Leo SolomonLeo Solomon, who has been a tutor with the WEA in Lincolnshire for the past 18 years, has received the honour for services to music in his home town of Grimsby.

    It is a fitting accolade to a man who has dedicated his life to educating others, spending 42 years teaching maths and music in secondary education up to sixth form level before turning his talents to adult education by joining the WEA in 1994 on his retirement from school.

    He came down from Sheffield University with a BSc in mathematics and physiology, but music was always his first love, initially training as a classical pianist but becoming a ‘jazzer’ very early on, leading his own band at the tender age of 15.

    He became a music teacher almost by accident. Having successfully applied for a mathematics post, the head of the school asked if he would be prepared to teach some music. The next morning he found himself as head of music with just a grand piano and 70 song books. He never looked back.

    Although a full-time teacher, his love for jazz, coupled with his outstanding musicianship, has seen him play with international stars at the heart of such famous bands as Count Basie and Benny Goodman and he has sat in on sessions with blues legends such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Jimmy Witherspoon. When the names of British musicians he has worked with start tripping off the tongue it becomes a Who’s Who of British jazz: Humphrey Littleton, Kenny Baker, George Melly, Don Lusher and a host of others.

    He has brought that love of jazz to the WEA, running regular courses in Grimsby with occasional forays out into the small villages that pepper north Lincolnshire. “Those villages are great,” he says. “We once had a course with 25 people in a small village all wanting to learn how to play jazz. It was knockout.”

    He is as enthusiastic about Lifelong Learning as he is about his beloved jazz. “It is absolutely essential, a real necessity, vitally important. How can someone retire and do nothing? I want to help people really enjoy what they’ve got – and more. Helping people realise their potential, helping them really enjoy what they’ve got, that’s what the WEA is about.” And that’s what Leo Solomon, one of the WEA’s finest servants, is also about.   

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/leosolomon.aspx Wed, 09 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Adult Learners Week Awards 2012]]> We’re delighted to announce four Adult Learners’ Week Awards for the WEA this year.

    Three WEA learners and one regional project have been recognised in the national awards for achievements in outstanding learning, coordinated annually every May by NIACE, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.

    The awards celebrate adult learning across the UK and inspire individuals to discover how learning can improve their lives.
    WEA tutors across the UK nominated the learners and educational projects that they feel are deserving of recognition.

    We’re proud to have four nominations chosen by the NIACE awards panels to receive awards this year.

    Congratulations to all our winners and all those nominated in this year’s awards, and in receipt of achievement certificates.

    Julie Harrison from Doncaster

    Julie Harrison
    Julie, 44 returned to education with the WEA to help her get a job and is now training to be a WEA tutor.  Her passion for learning has been acknowledged with a Regional Individual Learner Award in Yorkshire and Humber.

    Julie, from Rossington in Doncaster, became unemployed in 2008 and chose to gain some qualifications in order to broaden her prospects.  She started with a WEA First Aid course and an entry level three numeracy course as the course fit easily around her busy life as a mother. She then went on to achieve level two in numeracy and literacy and has now signed up to a Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector qualification.

    Her dedication to improving her situation hasn’t gone unnoticed and Julie hopes that her qualifications will help her get a job.
    Julie says of her achievements, ‘I have attended many courses over the years which I hope will give me a fighting chance for future employment.’


    Naseem Bashir from NewcastleNaseem Bashir

    Naseem, 39 arrived in the UK with a basic grasp of English but through learning with WEA and her work as a volunteer, has helped others in her community improve their lives. She will be awarded with the Outstanding Individual Learner in the North East Award.

    When Naseem arrived in 1996, she aimed to work in childcare but knew that she needed to improve her English. With the WEA she undertook a number of courses including parenting champions and tackling racial inequality.

    She was able to take courses to fit around her childcare needs – the WEA also helped with transport costs and childcare so that Naseem could participate with learning.

    She is a highly regarded member of the committee at her local Angelou Centre where she first volunteered and has now secured employment at the crèche.

    Naseem is also a Learning Champion, which means she helps encourage other adults to think about gain access to learning opportunities.

    Talking about her learning journey Naseem commented, ‘The effect of learning gave me confidence as a woman, mother and learner. I am now able to support my children with their studies and share knowledge about the wider world.’

    Kristine Michael from Brighton

    Kristine Michael
    Kristine has been selected for the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Award in South East, which is sponsored by Trinity College, London.

    She lived in Germany for 17 years before coming to the UK with her husband when she became unemployed. They had two young children and they experienced problems as neither of them could speak English.

    With the WEA Kristine started to learn English, with convenient classes she could fit around looking after her children. She successfully completed every course and passed first time, progressing to a Level 2 English course which has enabled her to get a part-time job.

    Kristine says of her experience, ‘The English course has changed a lot for me. I’m more motivated to work hard to have a better life.’

    Digital Activist Inclusion Network (DAIN) in Nottingham and the East Midlands

    DAIN projectThe DAIN project in East Midlands has been awarded the European Social Fund (ESF) Inspiring Learning Project Award as part of Adult Learners’ Week.

    The three year project, set up in 2009 trained 105 volunteers (Digital Activists) to engage 1,200 adults in the local community in using technology, develop skills and develop strategies to bridge the digital divide.

    DAIN partnered with local adult education providers, libraries, refugee centres and faith groups to reach wide demographic including ethnic minorities, women, young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and older people.
    The ESF funded project provided a 20 hour training programme for the volunteers who are then offered Information Advice and Guidance, helping many progress in further education and employment.

    Mike Attwell, WEA Director for East and West Midlands, commented on the award, ‘We are delighted to win this award. DAIN has demonstrated that a different approach which involves the target community in design and delivery of activities can successfully engage with those experiencing digital and social exclusion. We look forward to continuing to develop this work throughout the region.’

    The DAIN team have set up a special blog to record their experiences of winning the Adult Learners Week award.

    Congratulations to all the WEA winners and nominees this year. You can read more about the awards and all the national and regional winners, from Monday 14th May on the Adult Learners’ Website.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/adultlearnersweek2012.aspx Tue, 08 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Voluntary Arts Week set to liven up England's windows!]]> Voluntary Art WeekTaking place across the UK and Republic of Ireland, Voluntary Arts Week is a chance for amateur arts and crafts groups to show off their activities – and encourage others to join them.

    From 12 – 20 May 2012, we’re asking everyone to display something in their window that celebrates the art or craft form they love, as part of the ‘What’s in your Window?’ campaign. It could be a painting, piece of knitting, instrument, photo of them singing – or just a simple sketch. 

    Picture how great it would look – houses across the country, libraries, community centres, offices and shops, all with arts and crafts in their window for one special week!

    Arts and crafts groups could contact their local community centre, library or shop to see if they can display work in their window. We’re also encouraging groups to think outside of the box during Voluntary Arts Week, by putting on an event to encourage others to join them. They could: 

    • run a taster session for new people to have a go
    • hold an open rehearsal to show what they’re up to
    • take their art/craft form out into the public domain (shopping centre, bus station etc).

    Anyone wanting to take part should visit www.voluntaryartsweek.org where they can find tips and advice, download publicity to help them promote their event and list their event online.

    Voluntary Arts Week is run by Voluntary Arts, the development agency for amateur arts and crafts in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The first Voluntary Arts Week was held in Scotland in 2011, and is now being rolled out across the whole of Britain and Ireland. Voluntary Arts Week has been granted the Inspire mark by the London 2012 Inspire programme.

    For more information, please visit www.voluntaryartsweek.org or email: info@voluntaryartsweek.org.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/voluntaryartsweek.aspx Fri, 04 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Community mosaic for Ruskin College]]> Adler LegacyAn event to showcase the work of the WEA in Oxfordshire took place on Friday May 18 at the Town Hall, Oxford. One of the central exhibitions was an outstanding community mosaic created by Headington and Barton residents. This is the first project the WEA has funded using its Adler Legacy. 

    Lawrence Goldman spoke movingly about Freddie and Catherine Adler, who met on a WEA course  that Catherine was teaching. They were an inspirational couple who embodied the ethos of adult education and lifelong learning. When they died they left in excess of £100k to the WEA, with the wish that it continue its educational work in Oxford.

    As part of a community engagement and volunteer recruitment project to launch the legacy free mosaic workshops were held at a range of venues, from a children's centre to a sheltered home for the frail elderly. The project, in partnership with Ruskin College, aimed to reach all members of the community. The eight-panelled mosaic was designed in consultation with residents, Ruskin staff and students and WEA volunteers, incorporating the values and colours of WEA and Ruskin. A video of the project, incorporating many memories of the Adlers can be seen here.

    Henry Tam also spoke inspiringly at the event, encouraging us to use our educational programmes to increase awareness, agitation and action in addressing social issues through a co-operative approach to problem solving. 
    The mosaic will be installed in Ruskin College's new state of the art facility in time for the opening ceremony on Saturday 27th October.

    For more information about the Adler legacy click here.

    Photograph by Teresa Munby. Mosaic design by Clare Goodall


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/adlerlegacy.aspx Fri, 04 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[What next for community project?]]> LfCI LearnerLast month saw the close of our successful three year national WEA project Learning for Community Involvement (LfCI) coordinated by West Midlands Region. Achievements during the life of the project include 200-300 community involvement educational activities, spread across every English region and engaging over 3000 adults participating directly in LfCI activities.


    The LfCI project, funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government started back in April 2009. The aim was to increase awareness of opportunities for social and public participation, and build the confidence and skills for active citizenship.
    Each year of the project had a particular focus. In the first year, the focus was to engage learners in one-off activities, events and short courses. In the second year, it was about running longer courses, sharing teaching and learning resources, and transferring successful activities to other WEA regions. In the third year there was a focus on embedding the project work into mainstream WEA courses through training tutors and piloting activities with secondary beneficiaries.

    You can read about the project’s activities in more detail by following the links to the project’s reports below. These contain interesting case studies and commentaries from learners and partners. They also highlight the different ways in which the project has supported people to participate in local matters and give voice to their experiences, and views, to better promote the needs of their communities.

    • Getting Involved- Year 1 report
    • Getting Active - Year 2 report

    Learner & Partner Feedback

    Feedback from learners during the project was extremely positive for example, of the 1457 LfCI learner evaluation forms received;
    93% of respondents agreed with the statement - "I feel that the activity/course has enabled people from different backgrounds to meet with/get on well with/ learn from each other (for example mixing social class, faith, ethnicity)". Including 41% who strongly agreed.
    90% of learners agreed with the statement - "I feel that the activity/course has enabled/will help me to become more active in my community (for example attend public meetings, volunteer, campaign)", including 33% who strongly agreed.
    89% of respondents agreed with the statement - "I feel that the activity/course has enabled me to/will help me influence decisions in my community (for example respond to consultations, vote at elections, write to my MP)",including 32% who strongly agreed.

    In addition, partner organisations identified on-going impacts of LfCI, as the following partner quote highlights:

    ‘[LfCI] supported women to work together for a greater community impact, raised awareness of community issues and gave a forum for their discussions…We were able to provide new learning opportunities for members to become more actively engaged in their local communities. These opportunities would not have been available without the WEA. WEA staff were able to support us in developing our learning programmes and facilitate future partnership working with other local community organisation. The WEA produced a learning forum where learners’ confidence has been improved and women are now better able to influence decisions that directly impact on their own and their families’ lives.’

    What next?

    Despite the project coming to an end, this is only the beginning for the WEA to re-establish its social purpose learning ethos within its delivery of adult education.

    The intelligence and resources collated through the project will provide WEA tutors and staff innovative and creative ways to enable their learners to think critically and get involved in their local communities.

    An external evaluation of the project has just been completed with a number of recommendations for development within and beyond the WEA, you can read more about these here: Evaluation Report.

    WEA LfCI- Project Team

    Howard Croft- Project Manager Sue Taylor- Curriculum Coordinator (Active Citizenship) Mike Rogers-Curriculum Coordinator (ICT) Iram Naz- Curriculum Coordinator (Health) Joanne Homan (Administrator)
    For more information on the LfCI project contact Howard Croft

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/lci.aspx Thu, 03 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Come celebrate Levellers Day]]> LevellerEach year Burford in Oxfordshire hosts Levellers Day, an imaginative reconstruction based on experiences of martyrs during the English Civil War. This year is the 38th annual event, taking place on 19th May throughout the town.

    The day commemorates a stand against dictatorship by Leveller soldiers in 1649 and its suppression by Cromwell. Over three hundred soldiers were locked up in Burford church; three were executed as ring leaders and buried in unmarked graves in the churchyard. A plaque commemorating them was placed on the church wall in 1979.

     Levellers Day was initiated by the Oxford Industrial Branch of the WEA in 1975 to remember the Levellers and their ideals and to update and relate these to our own time through debate, entertainment and any other way that makes the subject matter inspiring, educational and enjoyable. It’s held on the Saturday nearest to 17th May, the date the three men were executed.

    This year will see a host of activities including speeches, debates, a procession, ceremony and music. This year’s theme is: 'Protesting and Surviving'.

    For more information please visit the Levellers Day website

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Levellers-Day.aspx Fri, 27 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA contributes to Diabetes Debate]]> HealthWEA is rightly proud of our many community education based health projects; they have enabled thousands of adults to improve their health, fitness and life chances and been recognised by Ofsted as ‘outstanding.' 

    The recent report from Diabetes UK that NHS spending on diabetes is likely 'to reach £16.9 billion by 2035' has created shock waves in the media.  Published in the journal Diabetic Medicine, the peer reviewed report anticipates that within 25 years the NHS could be spending 17% of its entire budget on the condition. The report goes on to say that investing in checks and services that help people manage the condition would reduce the risk of complications and be more cost effective.

    The WEA has been working with the NHS to improve health outcomes in some of our poorest communities for many years, by embedding preventative services into an informal Community Education approach. Evidence based reports show that these research led methods, using needs analysis and dialogue with people, rather than top down models, can potentially save money. For example, an external evaluation of the WEA’s on-going CHEST project in Stoke on Trent says participants ‘had consistently high levels of achievement in both learning and health outcomes. Approximately, 77% of learners showed at least one health improvement whilst taking part in a CHEST course, such as weight loss, lowered blood pressure or waist circumference,’ measures specifically linked to the development and control of Type II diabetes. The project has produced a video of some WEA students getting fit and active and discussing the impact it has had on their health and well-being. 
    For more information about WEA health education contact Iram Naz, Research and Communications Manager, inaz@wea.org.uk

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/diabetes-debate.aspx Fri, 27 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Bien hecho estudiantes!]]> CupcakesMaria Beviar, WEA Spanish tutor, celebrates with learners completing their Spanish conversation course in Leicester. 

    For most learners, successfully completing the Beginners’ Plus class was their second course this year.  

    Maria is a new tutor to the WEA and she has worked enthusiastically with learners since last September to promote and teach the Spanish language as well as introducing a taste of the country’s lifestyle and culture. 

    Cup cakes decorated with Spanish flags rounded off the final evening!

    For more information on courses in Leicester and surrounding areas check our course search or call the branch on 0116 2556614.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Learners-sucessfully-complete-Spanish-course.aspx Wed, 25 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Gateways to the Past]]> The WEA Leicester Branch has always had a strong interest in local history and their recent course ‘Gateways to the Past’, is another good example of the Branch’s innovative approach to learning about local history.
    The recent course was one of several Leicester Branch courses designed to teach learners to locate, access and critically interpret historical resources, in this case an opportunity to explore the High Street area of the city.
    The 2011 edition of the Leicestershire Historian published by the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, includes a number of articles written by Leicester Branch learners Eileen Gumley, Beryl Hawkes and Andrew Moore.
    The articles from the three students are based on the research they conducted during the ‘Gateways to the Past’ course on The Newarke area of Leicester.  The Newarke has its origins in the 14th century hospital for the aged poor, established by Earl Henry of Lancaster – the ‘New Work’ from which it takes its name – and was later expanded to encompass private residences, businesses, charitable organisations, a military barracks, and the College of Art and Technology, which was a forerunner of De Montfort University.The Newarke Houses Museum
    Learners researched a topic of their own choice with support from WEA tutor Cynthia Brown.  Work from the students, subsequently published in the local journal, include illuminating accounts on a home for fallen women, the occupants of a group of now-demolished houses, The Newarke bus station, and the vicars of the church of St. Mary de Castro from the mid-13th century to the present.
    For more information on forthcoming history courses, and other courses from WEA Leicester Branch, please contact Cherry Heinrich by phone: 0116 251 9740 or email: cheinrich@wea.org.uk.


    The front door of The Newarke Houses Museum about which WEA Leicester Branch students conducted their research. © Leicester City Council

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/gatewaystothepast.aspx Thu, 19 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[£1.5 million in grants for community groups]]> Does your community group want to help people overcome barriers and gain the skills and confidence to get back into work?
    HandsOver £1.5m is available to be given out by the WEA over the next 18 months in the North West through the European Social Fund as ESF Community Learning Grants. These are grants up to a maximum of £12,000 available to support work with some of the hardest to reach communities and individuals, to help people access further learning or training that could lead to employment.

    The funding can be applied for by small community and voluntary groups, registered charities and social enterprises, with preference given to organisations with a turnover of no more than £300,000 per year in each of the last 2 years.
    The grants can support a wide range of activities including initial help with basic skills, taster work experience including voluntary work , training, advice and counselling and a range of other areas.

    For further details check the WEA North West’s information page email ESFgrants@wea.org.uk or ring 0161 277 5408.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/grantsforcommunity.aspx Thu, 12 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Are you registered to vote?]]> Vote

    The WEA has always been about the importance of education in a democratic society. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone who is entitled to vote in elections in Britain to register now.

    If you haven’t registered, it’s easy. Just click here!

    If you’re already a registered voter, what about your friends and family?  Could you encourage them to register too?There are lots of people who haven’t thought about voting – or may not be aware that they can’t influence what happens in their local elections.

    We believe in an educated democracy. Our founder, Albert Mansbridge, once said, ‘the wisdom of the multitude is the welfare of the world.’ Of course, how you vote is your decision, but making sure you’re able to vote is something we want to encourage.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/registertovote.aspx Thu, 05 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[End to compulsory regulation of tutors]]> The independent review of Professionalism in Further Education (the Lingfield review) Lingfield Reporthas published an interim report. 
    The report largely supports the position the WEA has taken over the last couple of years in response to concerns raised by our tutors, particularly in relation to the introduction of compulsory fees in the Institute for Learning.  You can read the WEA’s position on this issue here.



    Photo courtesy of Department of Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning




    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/lingfieldreview.aspx Tue, 03 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA joins 'Give It Back George!']]> Image of George Osborne holding budget briefcase

    The WEA is among the six hundred charities – and counting – who are supporting NCVO’s (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) new campaign called ‘Give It Back George’.

    The campaign has been created to persuade Chancellor George Osborne to reverse the decision, made in the March 2012 budget, to cap income tax reliefs – including the much-loved Gift Aid – that will affect charities both large and small and the philanthropists who support them.

    Gifts of £200,000 or more will be subject to the new rules which, charity leaders fear, may act as a disincentive to people wishing to donate large sums of money to charities and trusts.  Under the old rules, tax-relief on charitable gifts meant donors would have the satisfaction of seeing the value of their donation to their chosen charity increased by up to 40%.

    Although not yet finalised, the new scheme threatens to reduce this tax relief by such a large margin, that philanthropists may think twice about donating, or will have to donate significantly more to achieve the same level of donation as that achieved prior to March’s budget.

    The charity sector is attempting to understand the complex set of new rules and the possible ramifications on charitable giving.

    As a charity seeking major donations in support of our charitable mission, the WEA also stands to lose under the new scheme.

    NCVO is asking individuals and charities to sign up to the new campaign on the new ‘Give It Back’ campaign website.

    So far over 600 organisations have pledged their support and over 3,000 individuals have signed up. NCVO are asking individuals and organisations to get busy on social media channels to spread the word to maximise support for the campaign.

    If you’re an existing donor or supporter to a favourite or family charity, and are worried about the impact of the new rules, you can read more and sign up at ‘Give It Back’.

    The site includes resources and links to help explain the practical implications of the new rules.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/giveitback.aspx Mon, 02 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[What the Dickens?]]> The WEA's new course on Dickens' historic London is bound to be a winner with literary enthusiasts and historians alike.

    Charles Dickens

    Coinciding with the Museum of London's Dickens and London exhibition - recently described by The Independent newspaper as 'The best celebration of Dickens' legacy' - the six-week literature course offers a literary tour of Dickens' London and the world he created in his works.
    The exploration begins with a study of the fog, both literal and figurative, which surrounds the Court of Chancery in Bleak House; it will then move to the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison in Little Dorrit and complete the study with the fascinating but often horrifying portrayal of the River Thames and the overpowering heaps of rubbish in Our Mutual Friend.
    Running on Wednesday afternoons at the Museum of London from 18th April, more information about the course and how to enrol are on the WEA London Region website.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/dickenscourse.aspx Fri, 30 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[DAIN project celebrated in style]]>
    DAIN Project (Digital Activist Inclusion Network)   achievements and particularly the achievements of Digital Activists (DAs; project volunteers) were celebrated in style on 17th March at the ICCA in Nottingham as the first phase of ESF funding for the DAIN project is coming to an end after a successful three year programme.    The day ended with presentation of four Digital Activist Awards which were presented to four of the many DAs who have gone ‘above and beyond’ in their volunteering activities. DAIN presentation day

    The action research project recruited and trained 100 volunteers, named ‘Digital Activists’, to engage members of their local community in use of technology, in order  to develop, test and deliver approaches challenge the digital divide.
    A key aim was to develop the skills of unemployed volunteers in order to improve employability prospects. True to its aims, the project saw many Digital Activists progress into further learning, voluntary and paid work, and many stayed in touch via events and by offering support and advice to new Digital Activists.

    Digital Activist Day had a packed agenda with input from Mike Attwell WEA Regional Director for the East and West Midlands and Pearl Ryall National WEA Membership and Volunteer Development manager, both of whom located the work of DAIN in the long history of volunteering and digital inclusion work within the WEA.   Both Pearl and Mike thanked Digital Activists and the project for their contribution to development of community volunteering and digital inclusion work within the WEA and for moving the issue on significantly within the WEA.  

    Alastair Clark, Programme Director at NIACE, outlined the transnational work which took place throughout DAIN and commented on how this had enriched the project.  Alastair reminded delegates that the transnational work had been of benefit to everyone involved and was well thought of by transnational partners in Estonia, Germany and Belgium.

    Andria Birch, Project Manager, thanked everyone involved and both looked back at where the project started 3 years ago, and forward to a hope that many DAs will continue to be involved in Digital Inclusion work and with the WEA in order to drive this forward.

    Andria commented ‘We have some fantastically enthusiastic and skilled volunteers on board who are determined to make a difference in their local community.  This model has enabled volunteers to find the individual hook that is relevant to the interests of each community member they engaged and explore how technology could be of use to them.’   Volunteers have many stories to tell that describe the impact of learning about technology on people’s everyday lives, work prospects, ability to keep in touch with others and keep up to date.  For many, their encounter with a DA has been the start of something good!
    Andria confirmed that findings and learning from the project will be shared with colleagues and partners over the next two months in a series of events and workshops around the region. She concluded that the WEA will continue to seek additional funding to support and develop the work of the DAIN project and will embed this learning in future engagement work and project development.

    The morning presentations were rounded off with inspiring words from Anne Wallace, Chief Executive of Startpoint coffee shop in Stockport.  Anne is an example of what can be achieved with drive and determination in local communities to challenge digital exclusion whilst also building  a renewed sense of community spirit.  Many DAs commented that they had gone away feeling enthused to keep up their good work and continue to make a difference in their local communities.

    Last but not least, Mary Moss, High Peak Digital Activist Coordinator, led the room in a fun but useful ‘hot air’ exercise to help delegates to focus on their next steps and the key ingredients needed to achieve their aims.

    The day ended with presentation of Digital Activist Awards to four outstanding DAs who had gone above and beyond the call of duty in their volunteering.

    Janet Jones, Steve Stocks, Brian Shelmerdine and Shaista Ahmed who, alongside many other DAs, were praised for their deep commitment to their local community and the aims of the project.

    Digital Activist Awards were presented to these four outstanding contributors to the project .  The day ended with a resounding toast to the project’s achievements, and most especially to all the DAs for their impressive commitment and sustained support for helping others to benefit from technology.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/presentationday.aspx Tue, 27 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Five new BBC dramas this week]]> Airing on BBC1 from Monday to Friday at 2.15pm every day this week, Secrets and Words is a series of five, 45-minute dramas on the theme of adult literacy

    The episodes feature characters who face some degree of difficulty in reading and writing.

    Actors from the new BBC seriesEach programme tells a story about the day-to-day struggles of the characters and how their situation influences all aspects of their lives from relationships and friendships to jobs and parenting.

    Actors from one of the episodes in the new series. Photo courtesy of BBC Learning.


    The series was commissioned by BBC Learning and is part of the BBC's recently published learning strategy.

    Producers from the new series made contact with the WEA earlier in the year and students from some WEA courses were filmed by the BBC.

    The films showing WEA students, and others, will be profiled on the BBC's Adult Learning website as part of the online resources attached to the new mini-series.

    The WEA offers a range of literacy and numeracy courses for adults. To find out more contact your local WEA regional office.




    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/BBCdramas.aspx Sun, 25 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Short history of tractors in West Lothian]]>  

    A new book telling the story of the British Motor Corporation (BMC)/British Leyland Truck and Tractor plant in Bathgate, from the point of view of the people who worked in the industry, will be launched on Saturday 24th March 2012 in the Regal Community Theatre, Bathgate.

    The BMC/Leyland Truck and Tractor factory was born in an era of hope as the shale oil industry and other traditional industries declined in West Lothian creating high unemployment and hardship.  At its peak more than 6000 people were employed in the industry.  By the 1970s the plant housed the largest concentration of machine tools under one roof in Europe and Bathgate-built trucks and tractors were exported all over the world.  The factory closed on the 27th June 1986 in the midst of other industrial closure across central Scotland causing the Proclaimers to write their lament “Letter from America” which includes the lines, Bathgate No More.    

    Bathgate Once More: the Story of the BMC/Leyland Truck and Tractor plant, 1961-86 explores the coming of the BMC factory to Bathgate, the range of jobs people did, the training and apprenticeships, the social life of the plant and impact on the local community, the achievements of the trades unions and the 1980s campaigns to fight closure of the factory.  The book is based on the personal, first-hand accounts of some of the many thousands of people who worked in the industry.  It has been written so that that this important period of West Lothian and Scottish history is not forgotten.

    Professor Tom Devine, historian and author of The Scottish Nation 1700-2000, comments on the book, 'I am particularly struck by the careful work which has been done on oral history with the aim of preserving the experiences of those who actually worked at the Bathgate plant and without which their memories would have been lost forever.'

    The Bathgate Once More project was funded by an award of £42,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.   More than 400 people and organisations have contributed to the Bathgate Once More project taking part in a range of events and education activities mainly during 2011 – the 50th anniversary year of the opening of the factory and 25th anniversary year of its closure.   This includes 59 former workers who have brought the story of the Bathgate Truck and Tractor plant back to life through recording their memories of the industry and its place in their lives in an oral history interview.  The Bathgate Once More book is illustrated with photographs from national and local archives and personal items loaned by former workers. 500 copies of the book are being produced for schools, libraries and community centres across West Lothian so that younger generations can learn about the history of their area.

    For more information on the WEA's work in Scotland visit WEA Scotland online http://www.weascotland.org.uk/

    The first Bathgate-built tractors are loaded for export


    Bathgate-built tractors are loaded for export (1962)  ©The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk




    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/bathgatetractors.aspx Thu, 22 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Could you be a Commissioner?]]> Adult Vocational Learning: Could you be a Commissioner?

    A new independent Commission into Adult Vocational Learning run by three public-sector agencies is looking to gain an understanding of what outstanding vocational teaching and training looks like - and to understand the barriers to achieving it.

    There has not previously been a review like this, so the impact it can have on future adult learners in order to gain access to the very best vocational teaching and learning will be significant, say the organisations involved in overseeing the Commission.

    The Commission is being run in a partnership between the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) with support from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The Commission is chaired by Frank McLoughlin CBE, City and Islington College principal.

    If you are on a vocational course and are willing to share your experiences to inform the work of the Commission then you can consider applying to become a Commissioner.  The organisers have stated that the contributions of learners are vital to the success of the project in understanding the voice and views of adult vocational students.

    Alongside this, they say, becoming a Commissioner will provide participants with a unique and impressive experience.

    There is however a very short deadline of Monday 26th March. The application pack is available from the LSIS website and provides information on the kind of commitment expected from applicants.

    The final findings and recommendations of the Commission are due to be published in spring 2013.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/beacommissioner.aspx Wed, 21 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The Making Moves Project]]> This Project was run in Leeds at Osmondthorpe Resource Centre from January to July 2011, for disabled adults. It was devised by the WEA and supported by the staff at the Centre where the WEA has along and supportive relationship.

    Making Moves YouTube ScreenshotThe overriding aim of the project was to provide a challenging but safe space in which the learner could acknowledge, explore and develop fully their own potential using volunteering as a focus.

    The project consisted of:
    • One pre-course induction for potential learners with their carers and/or family.
    • One mid-course induction for participating organisations offering volunteer placements.
    • Two separate 20 hour courses where learners working together as a group addressed and made sense of their own barriers and anxieties to moving on as well as devising strategies to dealing with the barriers they might encounter from society; they re-discovered skills that they already possessed and developed new ones. They honoured themselves and supported each other. There were sessions around health and safety, safeguarding and appropriate conduct in the workplace. As their confidence and self-esteem increased so did the learners’ goals and they were able to make realistic choices in their placements.
    • Two volunteering placements were arranged for each learner.
    • The project culminated in a celebration event at Leeds Civic Hall.
    The Project was supported by Leeds City Council East North East Area Committee and the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre.

    Please watch our YouTube video

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-Making-Moves-Project-Discovering-Potential.aspx Tue, 20 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Men's Health Project - Learning & Meetup Day]]>  WEA West Midlands is holding an event to round off the NIACE project on 21st March and they are keen to get as many people involved as possible.

    What they're doing:

    The project is an intensive programme of community research and pilot courses developed in response to the needs of the men and wider communities we are working with. As well as this community-based work taking place largely in Shelton and Stoke-on-Trent, we are developing tailored progression routes and helping to weave a network of individuals, organisations and projects in order to strengthen work to improve health. We find that while there is no shortage of resources and opportunities for health maintenance, a number of barriers make them less accessible including time, money, knowledge and skills. Our project seeks to address these barriers in practical ways so that more people can alleviate everyday issues such as stress and prevent health problems from becoming serious and life-threatening.


    The project textbook we are using is the Haynes Manual 'Man', which is easily available new and second-hand. It is a practical guide to men's health written in the familiar style of the Haynes workshop manuals.
    Blog posts: research and reflections about the project work
    Links: websites and articles on a wide range of men's health topics, included a curated 'stack' of links that we recommend as starting points for people interested in finding out more online
    The North Staffordshire Open Learning Map is under constant development to improve knowledge of local learning and physical activity opportunities and can be accessed via a mobile phone with Google Maps as well as on a computer. We always welcome more information about local opportunities for men and anyone else.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Mens-Health-Project---.aspx Tue, 13 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A day to mark students' successes in vocational qualifications]]> Be part of VQ Day 2012'VQ Day' stands for Vocational Qualifications Day, and is a national celebration of vocational qualifications for students, teachers and employers.

    It aims to recognise the talents and achievements of people throughout the UK who are awarded VQs whilst studying at one of this country's wide range of adult education providers.

    It was launched in 2008 to raise the status of practical and vocational learning and celebrate vocational achievement, and now the fifth annual VQ Day is to take place on Wednesday 20th June 2012. More details are on the VQ website including information on last years winners and how to nominate learners for an award this year.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/vqday.aspx Sat, 10 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[A learner's perspective on the WEA]]> 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”.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Branch-learner-tells-her-story.aspx Mon, 05 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Public views on adult community learning]]> Many people involved in adult education, including many WEA students, took part in an online survey of their views relation to adult and community learning. The survey was conducted by NIACE (the National Institute for Adult & Continuing Education) on behalf of the Government. 6,306 individuals and 227 groups from all areas of England sent their views. The report is now available and you can read the summary here.

    The survey was part of the government consultation on the future of Further Education including, informal adult and community learning. The responses to the survey show there is a public passion for adult learning and interest in contributing to policy. People hold strong opinions about informal adult and community learning.


    NIACE summary of report

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/public-views-on-adult-community-learning.aspx Mon, 05 Mar 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA at Who Do You Think You Are? Live!]]> WEA stand at Who Do You Think You Are? Live showThe WEA was part of the 2012 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show, which attracted almost 13,000 visitors from across the country. It gave visitors the opportunity to find out how they could research their family relatives and also share their family history findings. The event took place from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th February at the Olympia London. The three-day event was filled with workshops, activities and exhibitor stands, from course providers, local family history groups, and specialist research services.

    Hundreds of people visited the WEA stand, where some of our tutors and volunteers were at hand to talk to people about the WEA’s work and our courses in their local areas. The WEA is one of the largest providers of History courses in the adult and community learning sector in England (as shown by reports from 2010-11).

    The family history show at the Olympia, takes place every year, organised by the Society of Genealogists and provides expert advice on researching your family tree; displays historical collections and archive materials from different sources; provides the opportunity to find out what relevant family history courses, activities, and services are available from a wide variety of organisations.



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-at-Who-Do-You-Think-You-Are-Live-show.aspx Wed, 29 Feb 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Want to run an Adult Learners' Week event?]]> Are you planning an event or taster session for Adult Learners' Week?
    Come along to a FREE workshop on “Planning and Delivering an Adult Learners’ Week Taster on a Budget” and get help with:

    • Ideas for events – learn what has worked in the past and what themes are big this year
    • Tips for planning – make sure that you cover everything
    • Budget – ideas and resources that can help you make the most of your budget, no matter how small it is!
    • Resources – some examples of free and subsidised resources for you to use
    • Branding – make the most of Adult Learners’ Week branding and publicity
    • Evaluation – how not to lose contact with potential learners who attend your tasters
    • Celebrate – the importance of celebration
    • Partners – how to make new friends and share

    There are five (identical) workshops running - three in the South-East, and two in London (only one in London available to book now - see below 'workshop two'). To book a place, please email Amanda with which workshop you want, your name and contact details. Please see workshop information and contact details below.
    London Region
    Workshop Two
    Friday 23rdMarch 2-4pm
    Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, South Wharf Road, London W2 1NY

    Next to Paddington Station (rail services, Bakerloo, District, Circle)


    South East Region
    Workshop Three
    Tuesday 13th March 2-4pm
    Totton College, Totton SO40 3ZX
    A 15 minutes walk from Totton station (close to Southampton) or parking on site
    Workshop Four
    Thursday 15th March 2-4pm
    Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NP
    A short bus ride from Canterbury stations or parking on site. N.B. please book a parking permit – let me know your registration number – or you will need to pay.
    Workshop Five
    Thursday 22nd March 2-4pm
    Slough Central Library, High Street, Slough SL1 1EA
    A short walk from Slough station, or there are lots of car parks in the town centre.
    Book your FREE place on one of these workshops by emailing Amanda on pavonlopez@msn.com with your contact details.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Free-workshop-to-run-Adult-Learners-Week-event.aspx Wed, 29 Feb 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Volunteer this leapday!]]> Take the leap and volunteer this syearAs part of an initiative to increase volunteering in the UK, some employers and charities this year are taking part in 'Leapday Volunteering' and allowing their staff members a day off from work to volunteer for local charities and not-for-profits.

    The scheme which has been set up by Easyfundraising allows charities and community organisations to advertise their local volunteering opportunities on a website called 'Take the leap'. The website is easy to use and visitors wanting to offer time and help as a volunteer can find local opportunties, searching by postcode.

    Over 140 causes have registered on the website, in search of 3000 volunteers to help with all kinds of tasks and projects - from environmental and animal charities to local churches and hostels.

    One of the largest charities to use leapday as a cause for celebration of volunteering is the National Trust. They're giving their 5000 employees the day off from work, in order that they can volunteer in their local communities.

    To see what volunteering opportunities are available in your local area visit the Leapday Take the Leap website.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/leapdayvolunteering.aspx Wed, 22 Feb 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA tutor co-authors Geology book]]>

    WEA tutor Dr Paul Olver (Pictured) has co-authored the latest edition of a classic book on Geology. ‘An Introduction to Geological Structures and Maps’ has long been the textbook introducing A-level and first year undergraduate students to Geology.

    The original version was authored by George Bennison and Keith Moseley. Paul Olver first came across the book when doing A-Level, then later when he went to study at the University of Birmingham his tutor was none other than George Bennison. While still a student at Birmingham, Paul signed up to teach a WEA course in Geology with little idea of what was involved. Having only experienced lectures himself, he proceeded to lecture his WEA students but then as the numbers dwindled, the remaining students took him to the pub to put him right on how to teach adults: plenty of interaction, handling of fossils, and practical involvement.

    The second term was a great success, and Paul is now one of the West Midlands Region’s most popular tutors, teaching many courses both on geology and astronomy. Paul also went on to complete a doctorate on volcanoes.

    ‘An Introduction to Geological Structures and Maps’ is published by Hodder and Stoughton (ISBN 978-1-444-11212-2).

    Geology book co-authored by WEA tutor

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-tutor-co-authors-Geology-book.aspx Thu, 16 Feb 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Legacy supports learning in Oxford community]]> A legacy has been left to the WEA by Fred and Catherine Adler, who were both fond believers of lifelong learning and the transformative power of education. So far a very generous gift of £100k has been received. The first work supported by the legacy is a joint project with Ruskin College to design and make a community mosaic for their new building in Headington, Oxford. To ensure it involves people from all parts of the community the mosaic project is running sessions at a range of venues, from a children's centre to a sheltered home for the frail elderly. There will be a launch event on Friday 18th May 2012. Henry Tam - who captivated everyone who heard him speak at the recent WEA Conference - and Lawrence Goldman are confirmed speakers.

    Click here to see some of the work produced so far from the Community Mosaic Project. One of the Mosaic pieces is pictured below.

    Catherine taught for the WEA in Leeds and Hull during the time of the First World War, and later taught trade union courses in particular, which is how she came to meet Fred. Throughout the 60s, at the height of the Cold War, they led trips to East Germany and Russia to study literature, language, culture, history and politics. Her life - and this work in particular - inspired a short biography entitled Towards International Understanding.

    Mosaic piece

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Legacy-opens-doors-for-new-learning-activities-in-Oxford.aspx Tue, 07 Feb 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[How does the internet empower immigrant communities?]]> Modern technology aids immigrant integration

    A new survey looks at how mobile phones and the internet help immigrants to the UK and Europe stay closer to their families and within their communities. 

    The research project which is funded by the European Commission, is asking members of immigrant communities to the UK and Europe to take part, in order to learn how the Internet and mobile phones are helping individuals and communities to have a better life. The goal is to reach 5,400 people in eight European countries including the UK.

    The study has been put together by a group of researchers at Spain's equivalent of the Open University. It is the first large-scale survey to better understand how immigrant communities in the European Union use information and communication technologies in their everyday lives. The results of the survey will be used to inform policies that will support the integration of immigrants and new communities to the European Union.

    The survey  is anonymous and takes about 15 minutes to complete. The research team, called ConnectIEM, are offering an incentive for participants - a chance of 15 minutes free phone time to one out of every ten survey respondants. If you're interested in helping the research effort you can complete the survey here.





    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/europeanintegration.aspx Thu, 02 Feb 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Inspired student recommends WEA]]> Donna Jones MBE, writer and artist from Sheffield, has recommended WEA creative writing courses in a BBC Radio Sheffield interview on Paulette Edwards’s afternoon show, where Donna spoke about her latest book entitled Blue Devils. Donna says the WEA creative writing course with tutor Liz Cashden inspired her to publish the book, where Donna writes about her own family life experiences, which include having to cope with mental illness in her family. The book is a mixture of poetry and prose on the subject of alcohol abuse in the family.

    Donna says: “After I took early retirement I knew I wanted to do something creative. Since attending the WEA creative writing course I have been inspired both by Liz's constructive criticism and the support of other members of the group. Since joining the class I have written 45 poems, which is amazing, and was inspired to self-publish my book ‘Blue Devils’. I have been inundated with emails from people who want to read it, and who have had experiences of mental illness within their families.” 

    During the interview at BBC Radio Sheffield, where Donna mentioned she attends WEA Creative Writing classes she says “Listen folks get yourself on those courses, there absolutely fantastic. If you’re unwaged its three pounds, worth every single penny we are very supportive of each other and just have such a laugh, some of the things we write are so funny”.

    She finds that the WEA course is a fantastic learning and social opportunity and has enrolled with tutor Liz Cashden for second term of creative writing classes. 

    Donna says “The WEA course is more than a class. We laugh, write, read our writings and bring food.  I have developed wonderful friendships and we go to as many of the open mic events as we can to read our own work and listen to other writers; as well as entering competitions. My poem ‘My Father’ was in the local ‘Now Then’ magazine and I sent one of my poems to Michael Glover, from Bow Wow Shop. This is an international poetry forum and the poem is going to be published in the summer.  I am so excited about the potential for further writing and publishing, and am now working on a poetry book which will be called ‘Silent Wisdom’.  

    Without the local WEA none of this would have happened.”

    Donna Jones was awarded an MBE for her 31 years of dedication working with young people in the Sheffield youth service.

    Donna is also involved in a project called “Do One” where she is giving away 365 of her genuine artworks, one for each day of the year. She is using her passion for art to compose a painting each day and drive off in her graffiti car (pictured) to share her artwork with others. She told The Star “I believe everyone should have access to original artwork. I want other people to do one and pass it on and cheer up Sheffield.”

    To read an article in the Sheffield Star newspaper about Donna Jones and her past experiences, which have shaped her achievements in helping young people, click here.

    Donna Jones in Graffiti car

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Inspired-student-recommends-WEA-courses.aspx Tue, 31 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[NIACE award for men’s health project in Stoke]]> The WEA West Midlands region has recently been awarded £22,281 from the NIACE Adult and Community Learning Fund, for a new health project to help working men in Stoke-on-Trent get fitter and healthier.

    The project Health Maintenance for Men will promote lifestyle changes through education and fitness programmes designed for men whose working patterns and lifestyle habits pose serious health risks. Using a car maintenance analogy, the project will work mainly with taxi drivers to develop health improvement programmes that can fit around busy work schedules.

    The project will also address wider community health issues through a peer education approach using social networks to inspire healthy lifestyle changes.

    To find out more about projects happening in the West Midlands region go to: www.westmidlands.wea.org.uk/educational-projects

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/NIACE-award-for-mens-health-project.aspx Thu, 26 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Staff member completes Apprenticeship in WEA]]>

    Congratulations to Joanna Hinton, who has achieved her NVQ Level 3 Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Customer Service, in her role as Administrator in the WEA office in Lincoln. Joanna is pictured receiving her certificate from Patrick Holland from JHP Training.

    Joanna has been working for the WEA since November 2008 and gained her Advanced Level Apprenticeship and NVQ in June 2011. Joanna came about JHP Training while assisting at a WEA stand in Lincoln City Hall with Tutor Organiser, Carol Chambers, during Adult Learners' Week 2010. They discovered that the training would be free for Joanna because she worked more than 16 hours a week. Patrick, the training assessor from JHP, visited the WEA office in Lincoln and they arranged a series of Key Skills Units that related to her work for the WEA, such as customer service skills, organising a reliable customer service, and promoting services to customers. Joanna completed a folder of written evidence of tasks and Patrick made regular observations and interviewed assessments.
    Joanna says the course has helped her to feel more confident in dealing with customers in her role as an Administrator, developing office systems and giving advice and guidance. She said "I think its about going that extra mile, making it more personal when learners make enquiries. It's good to have some recognition for things I do every day - I hadn't realised how much of my work was already related to customer service and that each one of these small things can really make a difference".


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/staff-member-completes-apprenticeship-in-wea.aspx Fri, 20 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Calling all creative writers]]> Home-Start Bridgwater Area is an independent, small charity, which opened in January 2011, to help local families with their pre-school children when they are facing particular difficulty or family struggles, by giving support and advice to families to help them gain confidence to cope for themselves.

    The charity is having a Short Story competition, which will be judged by award winning novelist Patricia Ferguson. The first prize winner will receive £500, second prize will be £200 and third prize £100. It costs only £7 to submit your short story and all the fees from entrants will go towards the charity's work.

    Closing date for entries is 1st February 2012.

    For more details about the competition visit the charity's website at:

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Home-start-story-prize.aspx Thu, 19 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[External policy issues affecting the WEA]]> The WEA's most recent summary of relevant external policy issues is available here.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/External-policy-issues-2011-12.aspx Tue, 17 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Learners at the Museum of London]]> WEA TutorWEA Tutor Elizabeth Sarkany (pictured on the right) appeared on BBC London’s Robert Elms Show 94.9fm to talk about her inspirational writing course at the Museum of London.

    Topics for discussion in the show included how to get started with creative writing and museum objects that have been used to inspire written works.

    The unique course, ‘Writing London’ uses the collections and special exhibitions at the museum as sources of inspiration for writing. The range of objects used is eclectic and items such as a medieval fish trap, a reconstruction of Newgate Prison and a Roman kitchen (pictured below) have all featured in the work of the students. Extracts of the work together with images from the museum will be collated into a booklet.

    Courses at the Museum of London have been a great success for the WEA and three other WEA courses are planned for the museum in April 2012:
    • 'What the Dickens!' Exploring the books of Charles Dickens to coincide with the exhibition at the museum;
    • 'London and the Slave Trade' also using Docklands Museum;
    • 'Objective- Olympics!' Exploring sporting and cultural history through the museum.

    Elizabeth’s course, Writing London runs until the 28th March 2012 and you can join for the second term starting 18th January 2012 (course code: C2415616).
    The fee for the second term is only £87.50

    Please call 0207 4261 977 or contact Rowenna rmortimer@wea.org.uk to book a place. The course now runs for 2.5 hours per session.


    Learners at Museum1

    Learners at Museum2

    Learners at Museum3

    Learners at Museum4

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Learners-at-the-Museum-of-London.aspx Wed, 11 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[From Batley to Doha]]> WEA tutor Hazel Richardson tells us of a former student from one of her literacy courses in Batley, who has found employment in Doha thanks to completing her course.

    “It is a few miles from the UK to Qatar (about 3,400 miles), but I recently travelled that distance and met up again with a student of mine who is very grateful she went back to learning with the WEA.  Shamima Seedat joined my literacy class in early 2011 in Batley.  She was very disappointed when she feared that she may miss her level 1 exam, as the family were about to move out to Qatar, the Gulf state which will host the World Cup in 2022.  Luckily, she took the exam during her last week in the country and was successful. 

    When I was travelling to visit a family member, I couldn’t resist meeting up with her again.  In her lovely apartment, over a great dinner, Shamima expressed her belief that the certificate she had taken had helped her a great deal.  It had enabled her to find work in a local nursery and she hopes to continue with her education in the future.  It was good to know that the WEA had helped her to take that step and give her confidence.  I hope that if she ever decides to swap the 40 degree heat out there for the drizzle over here she would rejoin my class.  However I think she prefers it there for now!”


    Doha, Qatar.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/From-Batley-to-Doha.aspx Wed, 11 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[The 2012 Adult Learners' Week Award]]> Here's your chance to reward a learner for their hard work or a project that has helped people to access adult education. The Adult Learners' Week, which takes place from 12-18 May 2012, offers the following two awards: Outstanding Individual Learner Award and Inspiring Learning Project Award. For information about the awards and to submit a nomination go to:

    The deadline for submitting your nomination online is 5pm on Friday 27 January 2012.

    The Adult Learners' Week is also an opportunity to showcase all kinds of learning. Individuals and groups across the country set up events during that week to get more people involved in adult learning. Whether its a workshop, taster session or other learning activities the week brings together adults from all backgrounds and abilities to celebrate the value of learning. To get guidance on setting up your own event during Adult Learners Week 2012 go to: www.alw.org.uk/hold-event


    Adult Learners Week logo



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/The-2012-Adult-Learners-Week-Award.aspx Thu, 05 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Give your bit to charity while you shop online]]> While you’re shopping online, you can also support the WEA or any other charity at no extra cost. Simply go to the Easy Fundraising website whenever you are going to buy from major online retailers such as Amazon, Tesco, thetrainline.com, ASDA, e-Bay, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Expedia, Apple and  hundreds of other retail brands that are also signed up to the easy fundraising scheme. The website operates by giving a percentage of what you spend back to your chosen ‘cause’ such as the WEA, without adding any extra costs to your purchases. You can also support other charities and their causes through the Easy Fundraising. To see how you can make your contribution to the work of the WEA, please visit the website at: www.easyfundraising.org.uk.

    All you need to do is register your details on the website and specify who you would like to support. Then each time you’re going to shop online you simply need to log in to Easy Fundraising and then select the retailer that you’d like to purchase from and purchase as you normally would.




    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Easyfundraising.aspx Fri, 09 Dec 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Health boost for Stoke-on-Trent]]> Existing WEA learners will become the founding members of a new network of activity and support which plans to improve health and reduce isolation. This has been made possible thanks to a successful bid to the Big Lottery Fund worth £488,000 to continue the WEA’s pioneering Community Health Education in Stoke-on-Trent (CHEST) programme over five years.

    CHEST project

    The project has already drawn hundreds of Stoke residents into exercise for the first time. Many come through referrals from the NHS or attend courses because they want to exercise but find gyms hard to access for a variety of reasons. Over the years, participants have learned about a variety of healthy lifestyle topics such as how to recognise symptoms of diabetes and stroke and cut down on ‘hidden’ sugars. Many have ventured into other areas such as making films, using the internet for the first time or lobbying their MPs on issues of importance.

    The next phase of the project has been designed through extensive consultation with groups and will build on the first three years to have a much wider impact on the city’s health and resilience in tough economic times. New courses will start in at least fifteen community venues from January.

    Project manager, Clare White, said: "We are excited and grateful to the Big Lottery for this amazing opportunity and we'd like to thank all our learners and friends of the project for their support and help in developing the bid. Our learners and the team worked really hard over the last three years and many individuals have made incredible transformations to their own health and that of their families. We will be launching the next phase of the project with a celebration in January and invite everyone who wants to come along or get involved to get in touch."

    Tutor Samantha Wright talk about one of the longest-running CHEST groups: “The Gurdwara Temple group is a friendly and welcoming mixed group of mostly retired ladies and men from different communities. As an older group the focus has been on gradual health improvements utilising more gentle exercises, but they are a fantastic group and willing to try anything - they have even enjoyed Boxersize!”
    The CHEST project is designed to reduce health inequalities, which lead to people in the city dying earlier or experiencing poorer health than in other places.

    In its first three years the project engaged over 2,000 residents of Stoke-on-Trent in exercise and learning. The majority of participants demonstrate at least one health improvement (weight, waist or blood pressure) in each course and nearly all successfully complete three learning outcomes in each course.

    Working closely with partners from a range of sectors in the city, the project will:
    - improve the health of participants through structured physical exercise in accessible community venues
    - improve health literacy (eg reading, writing and computer skills)
    - reduce social isolation and improve the resilience and wellbeing of the wider communities of Stoke-on-Trent.

    Videos of the CHEST project are at www.westmidlands.wea.org.uk.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Health-boost-for-Stoke-on-Trent.aspx Fri, 09 Dec 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Ruth Spellman to be WEA's Chief Executive]]> Ruth SpellmanFor the first time in its 108 year history the WEA has appointed a woman as its new Chief Executive. Ruth Spellman will take over from Richard Bolsin who is stepping down at the end of March 2012.

    Ruth’s career is marked by a commitment to lifelong learning - she was awarded an OBE in 2007 for services to workplace learning and an Honorary Doctorate from Cranfield in 2010. Ruth was formerly Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), and has previously been CEO of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Investors in People (IIP) UK. She has also been HR Director of the NSPCC.

    Having previously worked in the private, public and voluntary sectors, Ruth has a track record for implementing, managing and driving forward major changes in organisations, as well as influencing public policies. Her early experience was in the public sector, but she then developed her influencing and consulting skills through leading the HR consulting practice at Coopers and Lybrand. After undertaking voluntary work with the NSPCC she became HR Director, playing a key role in modernising the organisation and leading it through change, winning the Employer of the Year Award in 1996.  From the NSPCC Ruth went to Investors in People where she established IIP as a leading brand, setting new standards of best practice in people development in the UK.  She went on to become the first female Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers taking it through a strategic review and increasing the membership, before moving to the Chartered Management Institute in 2008. At the CMI Ruth led the organisation’s drive to address the high level skills our economy needs to compete in the global economy. She strengthened the influence of the CMI, developed the brand and introduced a range of new products and services to support employers and members.

    Ruth’s non-Executive roles include being the Chair of the Careers Professional Alliance, and a Council Member of the Open University.
    Ruth is looking forward to her new challenge and says that the WEA is in her genes. Both her grandfather and father lectured for the WEA in the 1930s and 1950s, and she, too, was a part-time lecturer for the WEA in the 1970s.

    “I am a long term supporter of the WEA”, she says “and am delighted to have this opportunity to lead an organisation which has transformed so many lives and communities. I am very keen to help the WEA build on the increasing strength and influence it has rightly earned in recent years. It has never been more relevant than it is today.”

    As part of its process of restructuring, the WEA has also appointed Ann Walker as its Director for Education and deputy to Ruth Spellman. Ann is currently the WEA’s Director for the Yorkshire and Humber region.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Ruth-Spellman-to-be-Chief-Executive-of-the-WEA.aspx Wed, 07 Dec 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Training to inspire active communities]]> “It’s given me the confidence to become a more active member of my own local community”
    Student from Southwark.

    Train the Take Part Trainers Project

    Over 1,000 people took part in training to understand how they could influence decisions in their local communities and national policy making. This was through the Train the Take Part Trainers project, aimed at building the confidence, skills, and knowledge of individuals, so they could feel competent to take on an active role in their communities. The project was delivered by the WEA in partnership with the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA).

    The one-year national project offered one off taster events and short courses based on identified needs, interests and experiences. It also supported the development of both accredited and non-accredited courses from introductory short courses to accredited level 3 City and Guilds courses in Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector in Active citizenship.

    The project engaged people with an interest in being active in their communities to develop further their active citizenship skills, and become ‘Take Part’ trainers. These trainers would then deliver Take Part programmes across England, and capture evidence on best practice teaching approaches, while encouraging more people to get involved and promote active citizenship.

    The end of project evaluation report, released earlier this year, took into account the views of project participants and organisers through face-to-face interviews and focus groups. The findings revealed that the programme gave participants:

    • Increased understanding of political processes and how local and national decision making structures work
    • Greater awareness of how to support members of the community
    • Greater awareness of how to campaign effectively and how influence policy makers
    • Increased confidence in personal ability to bring about change.

    “The course has given me great knowledge of our rights and responsibilities as British citizens”
    Student from a course in Bridlington.

    “I have a much better understanding of how Parliament structures work and how to use them”
    Student from a course in Portsmouth.

    “I feel more confident to speak out on issues that concern me at a local level”
    Participant from Strengthening Democracy event.

    The project was part of the Take Part National Support Programme and funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Training-to-inspire-active-communities.aspx Wed, 07 Dec 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Prize giveaway for history lovers]]> KnaptonFor the history lovers, we’re giving away a copy of ‘Knapton: Twentieth-Century Village Voices’ edited by Gillian Shephard, one of our Patrons, Baroness Shephard of Northwold, with contributions from nearly one hundred people of their memories from the late nineteenth century in Knapton, a village in Norfolk.

    The book tells the story of a small rural community through two world wars, a revolution in agriculture, and sweeping economic and social change. It presents rural social history, from the late nineteenth century to the present day, of those who lived it.

    If you are a WEA member and would like to enter the competition, simply send us your full name, postal address, and email to: membership@wea.org.uk with the subject heading: WEA member competition.

    The closing date for entries is Friday 3rd February 2012. Good luck!


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Prize-giveaway-for-history-lovers.aspx Wed, 07 Dec 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Knowledge is power! says Prof. Henry Tam]]> Professor Henry Benedict Tam's recent essay explores how learning has been used throughout history to empower individuals and build a more equal society. He explains the importance of learning, understanding public policies and sharing ideas in order to challenge current practices that affect our lives. It further explores how the WEA can use learning to help students be more aware of the issues around them and in their communities to get more involved in influencing change.

    "The more people understand what causes natural and social problems, the more able they are to pick out the most promising solutions."

    “If learning is to serve the purpose of enhancing our ability to deal with social problems, then the WEA has a vital part to play in helping people connect what they learn to the broader challenges facing them and their communities”

    Click here to read the full article available on Henry Tam's blog.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Knowledge-is-power.aspx Wed, 16 Nov 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA Conference brings sector together for a day]]> John Hayes MP and Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong LearningWEA's Conference 2011: 'Equality Inclusion and Action in Adult Education' was a chance for adult education practitioners, students, funders, local government and community organisations to join together to consider the role of adult education and how it can play a positive role in the creation of a 'big' or good society.

    Held at the East Midlands Conference Centre at the University of Nottingham, hosted by WEA East Midlands Region and supported by the Co-operative College, the day saw almost 300 people from across the sector hear from leading academics and join sixteen workshops to learn about, and discuss, current practice and future developments. You can take a look at the workshop speeches and presentations below.

    The day opened with a keynote address from Richard Wilkinson, co-author of ‘The Spirit Level’ and Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at Nottingham University. Professor Wilkinson's address highlighted his research in the area of inequalities, and the impacts of these on societies across the world.  Audience members, including those attending previous WEA biennial conferences, described Professor Wilkinsons session as one of the best they had attended at an adult education conference.

    The workshops for the day invited delegates to consider subjects related to the core themes of conference including: the role of volunteers in closing the 'digital divide'; how social media can be used in community campaigning; gender equality campaigning, the idea of democracy using a model of local 'Speakers' Corners across the country, and developing adult education projects that tackle racial, and other, inequalities in society.

    Another conference highlight, was an afternoon session 'Reciprocity Lost' from Professor Henry Tam who explained his theories in relation to reciprocity (treating others as one would have them treat oneself).  His session, too short many suggested, raced through aspects of evolution, the role of moral values in contemporary society, reasons why individuals fail to act with reciprocity from childhood through to adulthood and how this leads to unequal societies. Delegates left with an optimistic message from Professor Tam who suggested that positive change is achievable through personal action and communties organising together. He also outlined ways in which adult education has a specific role to play in developing people's 'reciprocal' understanding, and behaviours, to reinforce greater mutual cooperation in society. Professor Tam's workshop was based on his book Against Power Inequalities which is available as a free download.

    The afternoon concluded with a keynote speech from David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE and a video address from John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, pictured above.

    John Hayes stated that the role of the WEA remains as important today as in its year of formation in 1903. He went on to say that the WEA leads the way in ensuring socially disadvantaged groups have access to adult education and in working with volunteers to provide adult education in urban and rural communities across the country.

    Conference workshop presentations and speeches

    Community Research for better health
    - by Iram Naz

           Gender equality campaigning
    - Finn Mackay
           Reprocity lost
    - by Henry Tam
    Tackling race inequality through adult education
    - by Ian Standish
       What can we learn from the Community Learning Champions approach to supporting volunteers
    - by Jan Novitzky
      The idea of democracy
    - by Peter Bradley
    From Toad Lane to a Global movement
    - by Mervyn Wilson.
      Digital Inclusion Eurolink with volunteers from Belguim
    - by Alastair Clark

    WEA Women's education history
    - by Mel Lenehan


    WEA East Midlands website also contains links and blogs from the conference. Further questions to mchica@wea.org.uk.

     Photos of the conference can be seen on our facebook page.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/WEA-Conference-2011.aspx Mon, 31 Oct 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA['Digability' is archaeology with a difference]]> WEA archaeology students

    A major new WEA archaeology project, starting this month in Yorkshire and the Humber, has been awarded £200,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    The three year region-wide initiative has been launched in time for Disability History Month in November, and will enable 300 people who would not usually be given the chance to take part in an archaeology dig the chance to get out in the field, learn new skills and have fun uncovering Yorkshire’s fascinating historic past.

    The scheme will target a variety of groups including adults with learning difficulties, mental health issues, and physical disabilities as well as those from under represented ethnic minority communities from across Yorkshire and the Humber. Sites expected to take part include:

    o Sheffield Manor Lodge

    o The Iron Age Roundhouse at Heeley City Farm, Sheffield

    o Romano-British settlements in Chapel House Wood, Wharfedale

    o Medieval field systems in North Killingholme near the Humber

    o Conisbrough Castle, South Yorkshire

    Fiona Spiers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and the Humber said:

    “This is a fantastic and wide-reaching scheme that aims to improve access to archaeology projects for underrepresented groups. There is a myriad of benefits to be gained from getting involved in archaeology from strengthening communities to learning new skills, learning how to be part of a team to helping to uncover Yorkshire’s rich history for future generations. “

    This important scheme has been developed to meet the needs identified by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) statement that it is vital work is done ‘to develop more positive action to challenge the perceptual, social or economic barriers that tend to exclude disabled people, ethnic minorities and people from economically and socially deprived areas from direct engagement in archaeology.’

    Rob Hindle, Project Manager, WEA explains how the project will benefit people:

    “Heritage is a collective historical legacy: shaped by the totality of people inhabiting the region throughout its history, it belongs to everyone, whatever their background, experience or circumstances. This project will provide an opportunity to demonstrate that everyone can play a role in its interpretation, celebration and conservation.”

    Entitled the Inclusive Archaeology Education Project the initiative will involve 1200 hours of classroom and outdoor teaching over three years. The project will start with an introduction to archaeology through practical, hands-on tasks and visits to heritage sites locally, followed by field-based activities at identified archaeological sites. Engaging learners through a range of innovative activities including ‘a history of ourselves in 300 objects’ (inspired by the BBC Radio series ‘A History of the World in 100 objects’), the scheme will offer participants the chance to develop key skills such as object handling and identification, using photographs, surveying and mapping, scale drawing, test pitting, finds processing and analysis, and group presentation.

    The project will also offer local university archaeology students the opportunity to undertake the WEA taught City and Guilds qualification, ‘Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector’ and to undergo additional training related to the participants needs.

    We are currently recruiting for a Project Worker for the three year duration of the project. The job is advertised on our website jobs section until the closing date of 26th October.

    For more information about the work of the WEA across Yorkshire and Humber please visit the regional website.

    Heritage Lottery Fund logo

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/digability.aspx Fri, 07 Oct 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Equality Inclusion and Action in Adult Education]]> Cover of conference programmeFriday 28 October, 10.00am to 4.00pm

    East Midlands Conference Centre, University of Nottingham

    A one-day conference, supported by the Co-operative College.

    Join delegates from the adult education, public and third sectors us to explore and develop the role of adult education in building a bigger and better society.

    Speakers for the day include David Hughes, NIACE Chief Executive; Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, and Richard Wilkinson co-author of ‘The Spirit Level’. We are also pleased to have a video address from John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning.

    Conference workshops will focus on a range of projects from the WEA and other organisations, where, for example, we increase community engagement, tackle educational and social disadvantage, support the unemployed back into work and work with volunteers to close the digital divide in communities across the country.

    Prices start from £65.00 for WEA members, Co-op members and individuals. You can book online at Eventbrite or use our booking form, which also contains full details of workshops and speakers.



    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/equalityactioninclusion.aspx Mon, 03 Oct 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Members elect new WEA Treasurer]]> Cliff AllumCliff Allum, Chief Executive of Skillshare International has been elected as WEA Treasurer in our first all-member ballot.

    Over 3,000 members voted by post and online, with Cliff receiving 69% of the total vote.  Cliff has been Treasurer for WEA West Midlands for twelve years, prior to which he was Regional Chair. He has been involved in the WEA for thirty years in all, including as a student, tutor and branch member

    In his election statement, Cliff said he would draw on his experience of over twenty years as a voluntary sector Chief Executive and national Trustee, were he to be elected.

    In a comment that will strike a positive note for WEA members and volunteers, he says, "I believe that voluntary activity is vital to the distinctive future of the WEA, especially at local level, and our success is based on working in partnership with our staff team at all levels of the Association. I am committed to a WEA that embraces new challenges, while recognising the value of our traditions."

    On hearing about his appointment Cliff said, "I am very excited about becoming National Treasurer. My thanks goes to all the WEA members who voted for me and I will do my best to play my part in addressing the challenges the WEA faces. I am also very keen to hear what WEA members see as the key issues that they think need to be addressed nationally on financial issues."

    The Treasurer is one of the WEA's four national Officers, who are volunteers and are amongst the twelve Trustees of the charity. They also serve alongside members elected by each region on the Association Committee, which represents all WEA members between WEA Conferences, which are held every two years.

    The posts of President and Deputy President were also up for nomination this year, but were not contested as only one candidate came forward for each. Incumbants Colin Barnes and Lynne Smith were duly elected to the posts of President and Deputy President respectively.

    The three roles begin their new terms on Saturday 29th October 2011 at the conclusion of the WEA's biennial conference in Nottingham.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/newtreasurer.aspx Wed, 28 Sep 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[We're looking for a new Chief Executive]]> The WEA is recruiting for two senior posts for the organisation, a Chief Executive and General Secretary (one post) and a new Director for Education.

    The new Chief Executive will replace current General Secretary Richard Bolsin who is to set to retire from the WEA in the near future.

    The new post of Director for Education has been created as part of a programme of restructure running across the organisation. Among the aims of the restructure have been the consolidation of the WEA management team, a reduction of operational costs and maintenance of frontline educational capacity in localities across England. 

    Richard Bolsin of the WEARichard Bolsin, current
    General Secetary of the
    WEA is due to retire from
    the organisation in the
    coming months.




    Further details of both posts including job packs and application process are listed on our job section.  Would-be applicants are invited to have an informal discussion with Veredus, the recruitment agency handling the applications. The closing date for applications is 3 October 2011.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/chiefexec.aspx Fri, 09 Sep 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Have your say on local adult education]]> Adult education studentThe Government has announced a new public consultation, to find out your views about local adult education services, and how to make them better. Closes 21st October!

    Read the WEA's response to the review of Informal Adult Learning here!

    The consultation is called 'New Challenges, New Chances' and is being run to work out how adult education should be funded in future and to seek views of individuals, communities and adult education providers.

    Like most other adult education organisations we're funded by the Government through an annual grant from the Skills Funding Agency. The kind of classes that we put on across the country are termed 'Informal Adult and Community Learning', or IACL, and there is a special consultation paper and survey for people who attend these kinds of classes with the WEA - or any other local college or provider.

    The Government says it wants to reduce paperwork and bureaucracy as well as improve local services - but at the same time it will be considering what levels of funding will be in future - in an unhappy economic climate!

    WEA students and tutors will be pleased to hear about any possible changes that might, in time, reduce paperwork and form-filling, and leave more time for education.

    If you want to add your thoughts and views to the mix you can download the consultation paper here and then visit the NIACE website to complete the survey. It's designed for individuals, rather than organisations, so it's a great chance to join in and reinforce the message to Government that adult education is a necessary and valuable local service.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/bisconsultation.aspx Wed, 17 Aug 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Beamish Museum for free with the WEA]]> Learning activities at Beamish

    The Workers’ Educational Association North East are celebrating 100 years of providing adult learning in our region. As part of our festivities we will be holding a very special day at Beamish the Living Museum of the North, County Durham - and we’d like to invite you!

    Join us free on Saturday 10th September 2011, from 10.00am until 5.00pm, to celebrate our heritage and look forward to our future at this award-winning open air museum. You can read more about Beamish on their website.

    As well as free admission to the museum, visitors with a WEA ticket will receive a buffet lunch at Beamish – there will be lots to do, including a special afternoon rally, and a WEA stall and activities in the town street and bandstand.

    This event is open to all – everyone is welcome!

    if you would like tickets please contact us at our North East Regional office on tel: 0191 212 6100 or email Liz on elangdown@wea.org.uk stating how many tickets you would like and providing your name, address and telephone number. Tickets are limited so early booking is recommended.

    We are also looking for volunteers to take part and help out on the day - if you're interested contact Cheryl on cknight@wea.org.uk.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/beamishforfree.aspx Thu, 04 Aug 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Getting Active with the WEA]]> Cover of Getting Active reportA new report is just out highlighting project work from the second year of our Learning for Community Involvement project.

    The project is supported by the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Empowerment Fund.

    In the first year we sponsored a range of local pilot projects that demonstrated how high quality adult education could inspire and support the empowerment of individuals and groups at community level. A range of varied activities in widely different settings, such as health and digital inclusion, succeeded in engaging and supporting people in ‘getting involved’ as volunteers, campaigners, active citizens and representatives.

    You can read more about the second year of the project in the year two report called Getting Active. It contains case studies and commentaries from our learners and partners, highlighting the different ways in which the project has supported people to participate in local matters and give voice to their experiences, and views, to better promote the needs of their communities.

    The Learning for Community Involvement project is a national project managed by the WEA in the West Midlands.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/gettingactive.aspx Thu, 04 Aug 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[New community learning projects]]> Adult and Community Learning Fund logoAcross England the WEA has been successful with six bids to the Adult & Community Learning Fund.

    A diverse range of projects were approved as part of the Skills Funding Agency grants programme which is managed by NIACE.  Bids were invited to maximise the contribution of community learning to the Big Society and engage and motivate disadvantaged adults.

    The six successful WEA projects are in the North East, West Cumbria, Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent, London and the East Midlands. All the projects look to build the engagement of adults from disadvantaged communities in projects around a range of issues such as health improvement, advocacy, shaping services and learning opportunities and building confidence in community governance and leadership. There is a very strong local partnership theme in all the projects:

    The Stoke-on-Trent project concentrates on health improvement with working men from Black and minority ethnic communities; West Cumbria will using local champions to build advocacy and services and learning opportunities for people with physical disabilities living in deprived areas; the North East project focuses on health volunteering; in Manchester adults from disadvantaged communities will use digital media to engage with the city’s cultural venues and design their own film, art and photography courses; the East Midlands project aims to inspire diverse women to become involved in voluntary leadership roles in Informal Adult Community Learning; The London project will help some of the most disadvantaged Londoners engage with and make connections between neighbourhood, local and London-wide governance in civic participation, adult learning and community-based sustainability.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/Six-new-community-projects-on-the-way.aspx Mon, 01 Aug 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA members start voting]]> WEA your vote counts

    Nearly 50,000 WEA members from around the country are getting their chance to vote on who should become the WEA's next Treasurer in the coming days.

    The election is possible due to a change in the WEA's constitution, designed to help ensure that members are increasingly involved in our democracy and decision-making.

    The Treasurer is one of the WEA's four national Officers, who are volunteers and are amongst the twelve Trustees of the charity. They also serve alongside members elected by each region on the Association Committee, which represents all WEA members between WEA Conferences, which are held every two years. Officers serve for a four year term, arranged so that there are elections for two of the four officer positions every two years.

    The posts of President and Deputy President were up for nomination this year, but were not contested as only one candidate came forward for each. So incumbants Colin Barnes and Lynne Smith were duly elected to the post of President and Deputy President respectively.

    Members will however be able to choose between Cliff Allum and J. David Freeman in a by-election for the Treasurer position in the first direct vote by all members in WEA history. In the past, only representatives of members could vote on Officer posts at Conference. The byelection is happening due to the resignation of the Treasurer elected at the 2009 Conference, so the winner of the election will serve until 2013 when a full Treasurer election for the subsequent four years will take place.

    This is possible due to a
    change in our constitution, related to our plans to make sure that WEA members are
    increasingly involved in the WEA’s democracy and decision-making.

    The election is open to everyone who was a WEA member on the 28th April this year - six months prior to WEA Conference where the winner will be announced. Voting will take place between now and 2 September; eligible members with email have already received their chance to vote, while those without email should receive their ballot form in the post by 22 July.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/membervote.aspx Mon, 25 Jul 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Students filmed by Emmy award winners]]> Students across the West Midlands are starring in a new film produced by the local regional office to promote the work of the WEA. The film was funded by the West Midlands Region to illustrate the diversity and character of WEA courses and educational programmes.

    The film was produced by Emmy-award winning company Junction 15, who specialise in community arts and educational films.

    A West Midlands student talks about his course

    A student of WEA tutor Rachel Trpeski's health and exercise and classes talks on camera about his experience - and dons a wig for a fitness class with a difference. You can hear and see more of Rachel and students in the film.

    As well as footage of classes across the region and comments from class students about their WEA experiences, there are interviews with tutors and partners. Although the film focuses on the work of the WEA in the West Midlands, it is also a good reflection of the WEA elsewhere in the country.

    You can see the film on You Tube or the West Midlands website.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/westmidlandsfilm.aspx Tue, 19 Jul 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Winners celebrate personal achievements]]> Last week saw the winners announced for the third annual Olive Cordell Awards. The award scheme came about after a legacy left to the WEA by Olive Cordell, who was herself a community studies tutor. Each year the awards recognise learning and teaching achievements in community education and return-to-learn programmes.

    This year two WEA learners were chosen to receive a 'Learner of the Year Award' and one WEA tutor for 'Tutor of the Year'.

    Sofia Joao receives her award

    Sofia Joao is presented with her award by Chair of WEA Trustees, Professor Dick Taylor. Seated behind Sofia is Jane Cordell, daughter of Olive Cordell whose legacy to the WEA resulted in the annual achievement awards for students and tutors.

    Learner of the Year 2011: ESOL

    Student Sofia Joao of London was nominated by her tutor Maria Zur. Originally from Angola, Sofia came to this country as a refugee. She suffered the loss of family members in Angola and was separated from her children. Sofia studied English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) with the WEA in London. Sofia says she used the skills she gained in her ESOL course to help her with her citizenship application, thanks to which, she says, she was reunited with her children in France after having been apart for eight years.

    Of Sofia's achievements her tutor Maria says:

    "Sofia is a terrific example of triumph over adversity for all her fellow learners and tutors alike. She inspired her colleagues with her fantastic record of attendance, learning outside the classroom and now at a further education college. She has inspired everyone by the way she has kept going even when personal tragedy has struck."

    Learner of the Year 2011: Literacy and Numeracy

    Stuart at the awards ceremonyThis year's second student award went to Stuart Butler. Stuart is a member of MIND the mental health charity, which he joined after he sustained a serious injury whilst at work. Stuart says his accident affected his confidence and self-esteem to the extent that he became withdrawn and isolated.

    When visiting MIND in Basildon, he was told about WEA classes. He soon joined a Literacy and Numeracy course provided by the WEA.

    He says the course gave him a new lease of life as well as a second chance to learn after not having achieved well at school. Through his classes Stuart gained a qualification in literacy and numeracy which helped him to secure a voluntary work placement. He said he has also gained new friends in and out of the classroom.

    Laraine Clark who is Stuart's tutors says:

    "The first time Stuart attended classes he lacked confidence in his ability and was hesitant to participate in class discussions. Now, he actively participates in the group discussions showing his academic progress and growth in confidence."

    Laraine also says that Stuart has been a support to other members of the class and is a real asset to the class, offering motivation and assistance to any who need it. She says:

    "Stuart has been inspirational to the other students in the class, all of whom have seen him gain the qualifications he needed to return to work."

    Tutor of the Year Award 2011

    Margaret at the awards ceremonyMargaret Joojo-Richards is a London-based tutor for the WEA and has received her award due to her educational work supporting migrant domestic workers, and for extending the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision in Haringey.

    Margaret was nominated by Tutor Organiser Benedikte Morley for her 'learner-centred' approach and her drive in making sure her students are receiving the kind of education that can help them move their lives forward positively.

    For example, Margaret offers Sunday classes to make sure that students can attend on their regular day off. Many of Margaret's students left school with no qualifications and have found that Margaret's approach to teaching has helped their self-confidence and social skills as well as their academic achievement.

    Attendance at Margaret's classes is high and the exam pass-rate is usually 100%, with excellent feedback from Margaret's students.

    Of Margaret's work, Benedikte says:

    "She is a role model for other tutors. Margaret puts the learner at the heart of everything she does and believes in the power of education to change lives. Margaret has opened doors and changed the life of many of her learners. This is because she cares deeply about what she does."

    Congratulations to Sofia, Stuart and Margaret on their awards. You can read more about the winners of this year's awards in this year's Olive Cordell awards booklet.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/olivecordell2011.aspx Mon, 18 Jul 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Margaret is up for award in South Shields]]> Margaret East in The Shields Gazette

    Margaret East, Chair of South Tyneside WEA branch. Picture courtesy of The Shields Gazette.

    WEA volunteer Margaret East has been nominated for a Pride of South Tyneside award due to her good work as Chair of the South Tyneside WEA branch in the North East region.

    Margaret, who used to be a social worker, was pointed in the direction of the WEA when she retired and wanted to find out about local adult education classes. Like many WEA volunteers Margaret started out as a student and was asked to take up a volunteer role within her local branch!

    In an interview last week by her local paper Margaret said she was surprised to be nominated. She told the reporter that she is 'enjoying every minute' of her current course to research her family tree and praised her 'excellent tutor'.

    Margaret was nominated by Joan Grant, fellow WEA student and member of South Tyneside branch.

    Joan, who was also interviewed by the Sheilds Gazette said that WEA classes are: "Important and have a lot to offer, not only to learn a new subject or renew one, but keep minds and hands nimble."

    “We might be getting old, but most of us do the school run and look after grandchildren. At these classes you meet like-minded people and learn."

    She went on to urge locals to recognise Margaret's efforts towards supporting adult learning in the awards, which are to take place this Thursday (14 July) at South Tyneside Council.

    You can read more about the local awards on the Sheilds Gazette website.  We wish good luck to Margaret, Joan and the local branch at the awards ceremony.  Find out more about WEA tutors and volunteers in 'Who we are'.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/volunteermargaret.aspx Wed, 13 Jul 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA banner blessed at Durham miners' gala]]> WEA North East Region centenary bannerThe WEA North East Region's centenary celebrations moved to a new level at the historic Durham Miners' Gala last Saturday, with the unveiling, parading and formal Blessing of the Region's centenary banner.

    Although the Durham pits are closed, the traditions of the mining communities remain strong and vibrant. Over 100,000 people attend the Gala each year to parade miners' lodge banners, other trade union and co-operative banner, and banners made by primary schools in former pit villages.

    Brass bands lead the huge procession that takes several hours to pass through Durham City centre en route to the race course where trade union and political speakers - and, this year, representatives of the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for many days - address the crowd, amid marquees, a fun fair, a live music platform and numerous stalls.  As usual Durham WEA Branch was among the Gala stalls, launching the Region's new part time courses for the coming year - with over 800 brochures given away.

    The WEA banner (above right)  was produced on one of the last pieces of banner cloth made by Tutills, the London weavers who produced many of the miners' and other trade union traditional banners. Generously donated to the WEA by the Durham Twelve Villages Group, the banner cloth depicts regional landmarks and a Right to Learn theme, as well as 12 stars symbolically representing the villages, on the rear panel, and WEA founders Frances and Albert Mansbridge on the front. Local banner artists, Lotte and Hugh Shankland of Durham Bannermakers, who make many modern or recreated banners used at the Gala, did the art work.

    Following the procession and display on the Gala field, the banner joined six other new banners for a Blessing in Durham Cathedral by the Bishop of Jarrow. The event was moving and emotional as brass bands led the banners into the Cathedral for the hour long ceremony, and the huge congregation gave a loud round of applause as the WEA banner left along the main aisle afterwards.

    Hugh and Lotte Shankland of Durham BannermakersNigel Todd, North East Regional Director, said: 'It was a stunning and memorable day for the WEA. Our spectacularly attractive new banner received a lot of attention as we moved through Durham, and we were especially pleased that WEA colleagues from other Regions joined us during the procession. The Cathedral ceremony was just out of this world, and provided a sense of completeness for the Mansbridge connection. Albert Mansbridge often stayed near Durham when he visited the North East during the Association's pioneer days, and he would have felt quite at home among the union banners and the Church of England with whom he had a strong connection.' 

    Pictured above, are Hugh and Lotte Shankland of Durham Bannermakers. Read more about the family who made the WEA North East banner in the Newcastle Journal's Culture magazine.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/durhamgala.aspx Tue, 12 Jul 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[BSkyB online campaign gains momentum]]> Avaaz campaign pageAn online democracy campaign, run by avaaz.org, to allow people to voice their protest at the imminent takeover of BSkyB by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is gaining pace.

    As of last week almost 150,000 people had used the website to send a message to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, asking that he and Prime Minister David Cameron delay Friday's takeover of BSkyB by News Corporation. The website is aiming for 200,000 signatures.

    Avaaz.org, and those supporting the campaign, are arguing that the takeover would mean Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation would own too-large a part of the news media, for the good of British media, and should be referred to the Competition Commission, the body which oversees mergers and takeovers of the major regulated industries.

    Opposition to the News Corporation/Sky deal has increased steeply following allegations that the News of the World newspaper, owned by News Corporation, used a private investigator to intercept mobile phone messages of victims and families during the trials related to the murder of Milly Dowler, the 7/7 bombing victims and others.

    Responding to public pressure, Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed to a public inquiry into the phone hacking allegations but is not moving on the decision to allow the News International/BSkyb merger to go ahead.

    Avaaz.org was set up in 2007 to enable people to use the internet as a democratic, campaigning tool and 'to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.'  The word 'avaaz' means 'voice' in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages.

    If you are interested in adding your voice to the campaign and seeing other campaigns running on Avaaz.org - you can visit their website.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/bskyb.aspx Thu, 07 Jul 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Driving learning]]> A new WEA branch in Northolt, West London, is helping members of the Nepalese community learn English and other vital skills.

    Everton and SanatThe Northolt Thanti Branch was set up by Sanat Gurung (pictured on the right), a bus driver working at Greenford Bus Depot, who is the chair of the new branch.

    Sanat saw the work undertaken at his workplace by Everton Herbert (on the left), a Unite Union Learning Representative, to put in place learning opportunities for employees. This inspired him to  find out how that engagement could be replicated within the Nepalese community.

    There are about 6,000 members of the Thanti Nepali Sarmaj Community across West London. Many work within the local security, retail, public transport and hospitality sectors. Due to the nature of their work and often unsociable hours, it can be challenging for them to develop their potential and progress in their careers. Another major challenge is that a large proportion of the women within this community are housewives - many of whom feel socially excluded, often due to a lack of English.

    Everton and Sanat agreed to work towards delivering a community learning project aimed at addressing skills for life, active citizenship and professional development. The WEA was identified as the education provider, meetings were held and learning needs surveys carried out. A learning centre based in Northolt was chosen as the location for classes to take place; after two months there were already over 120 Thanti members enrolled on courses, including fifty on ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languagues) courses.

    Sanat said: "This has been a dream for me and the community, we have been overwhelmed by the response from our members. Once the ESOL courses are fully established, we hope to provide further courses in IT, knowing your rights at work, health and safety at work and work-related qualifications. None of this would have been possible without the help of the Unite rep Everton and the WEA."

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/drivinglearning.aspx Fri, 01 Jul 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[More power for local communities?]]> The Localism Bill"Don't throw away the chance to give a greater say to local people," is the message to MPs around the country.

    The message is part of a campaign that the WEA is part of called the Real Power for Communities campaign. Its aim is to lobby MPs to make sure that a new parliamentary Bill will give more say and influence to people over local matters.

    The campaign aims to make sure that the government's Localism Bill really does benefit local communities around the country, just as the Government has promised.

    A new Real Power for Communities website has been set up. If you are interested in local politics or think that local communities need a greater say and influence in local services, why not visit the site and sign up to the campaign.

    The wesbite features regular updates on the progress of the bill and offers support material for people wanting to get involved.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/powerforcommunities.aspx Wed, 29 Jun 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[WEA project is one of Europe's best]]> A WEA East Midlands project which has been set up to close the 'digital divide' and encourage people into volunteering has been named as an example of good-practice as part of European Year of Volunteering 2011.

    The WEA’s Digital Activist Inclusion Network (DAIN) has been chosen as one of two volunteering projects to represent the UK in the European Year of Volunteering Relay.

    DAIN project volunteers with reporter

    Reporter Jure Revec visits the WEA East Midland's DAIN project and meets two of the project's 'digital activists'.



    The Relay is running as part of the European Union's programme to fund and promote volunteering projects.

    WEA students on the DAIN project, recently hosted Jure Revec, one of twenty-seven volunteer journalists covering the selected projects across Europe

    He visited a range of DAIN volunteer activities, spoke with volunteers and staff and recorded footage to create a short film which will appear on the Europe European Year of Volunteering website.

    Andria Birch, WEA's DAIN Manager said: “We were delighted to be taking part in the relay and to have been given this opportunity to showcase the excellent work of volunteers in the DAIN project alongside that of other WEA volunteers within the East Midlands Region. Volunteers are an essential part of the WEA, so it’s great to celebrate and share their experiences and achievements with our European neighbours”.

    DAIN is part-funded by the European Social Fund, and aims to help some of the four million people in the UK currently experiencing digital and social exclusion to begin to use digital technology.

    DAIN volunteers help engage people who have not used computer technology before, ultimately helping to widen participation in employment and learning.


    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/dainproject.aspx Wed, 29 Jun 2011 00:00:00 GMT en
    <![CDATA[Two thousand champion volunteers]]> CLC logoTwo thousand volunteers have been trained as part of the Community Learning Champions Support programme, which ran from 2009 to 2011.

    The three million pound initiative was funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, with the WEA as one of the organisations appointed to oversee the project.

    All 2,000 volunteers were trained as part of the programme to become Community Learning Champions (CLCs) to bring learning to some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country. This was done through volunteer-led projects regionally and locally.

    The CLCs went on to help 100,000 people - 70 per cent of which were unemployed - to find their way into learning, training and paid employment. The programme supported individuals with disabilities, mental ill-health and homeless people to use informal learning to help transform their lives.

    "Community Learning Champions", the project's concluding report, has just been published and offers insights into community and volunteer development and the role of adult education in supporting disadvantaged adults and groups.

    Stephanie Pickett and Louise WilliamsThe report describes many of the project's learning activities and their impact on individuals and communities, as well as the programme's overall achievements. On the right, Stephanie Pickett, the first CLC on the national register shows off her Community Learning Champion badge, presented to her by the Mayor of Coventry. Stephanie is with Louise Williams (right) of the WEA West Midlands.

    The CLC programme was delivered in partnership by NIACE, the WEA, Unionlearn and Martin Yarnit Associates.

    http://www.wea.org.uk/news/2000championvolunteers.aspx Wed, 01 Jun 2011 00:00:00 GMT en