WEA launches 2016 Impact Report


A new report from the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) – ‘Improving Lives and Communities through Learning’ – has revealed the transformative effect of adult education.

Over 2,000 students from across the WEA participated in the study which marks progress against the charity’s four core areas: employability; health and wellbeing; community engagement and cultural education.

As we face further economic uncertainty and divisions in our local communities it offers vital insights and lessons about the role adult education can play in tackling national issues from creating more cohesive communities, addressing the UK skills deficit and improving health and wellbeing.

TES magazine has reported key findings from the study - which reveals the plethora of benefits that lifelong learning brings.

Key findings

Cultural integration and citizenship

  • 81% learning met people on courses that they would not normally mix with and half became more understanding of other cultures as a result of their courses.
  • 39% percent of students took part in activities to improve their local community as a result of their course and 24% of students claimed the courses made them more likely to vote in next elections

Plugging the skills gap

  • Of the unemployed students 77%  felt more confident about finding a job in the future and 72 percent knew better what to do to get a job as a result of taking a course
  • Most commonly, students developed skills to prepare them for work, from learning skills (76 percent), communication (68 percent) and research (62 percent), closely followed by critical thinking (60 percent) and creative skills (60 percent). 
  • The students that need most support benefit more - Students claiming means-tested benefits developed certain life skills at about 18 to 34 percentage points higher rate than their counterparts not on benefits. Those who attended basic skills courses reported greater development of literacy and language skills, IT and numeracy

Health and wellbeing

  • 99% of students reported some health and wellbeing benefits following their adult learning course. The courses helped large majorities of students to make new friends (84 percent), increase self-confidence (77 percent) and take up new hobbies or other interests (66 percent). Almost half (47 percent) were motivated to improve their health and courses helped 46 percent to keep physically active.
  • These figures increased specifically for BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) students 
  • Fifty-nine percent of students reported that the courses helped them to reduce stress 

In addition to these core areas, the 2016 impact report highlights the intergenerational effect of adult learning. Many parents who participated in the study played a more active role in their child’s education after undertaking formal learning. Parents that go on adult education courses provide role models for their children and help improve their outcomes, breaking the cycle of low educational attainment in families.