The need for change 

Following our mission to bring education in reach of all those who need it, our regional governance needs to greater support us to understand and serve local communities, responsive to their needs. 

As a national provider, it is especially important to demonstrate that we can be responsive to devolving education policy and funding decision-making, which is increasingly local. 

Currently this local oversight is delivered by Regional Committees which are almost exclusively forms of branch learners and volunteers. These communities are of great importance to us. However, they form just a small part of our learner demographic and are not representative of the whole. We need to better understand and reach the hardest to reach. 

Changes in the external regulatory environment in which WEA operates, its recent reclassification as part of the public sector, changes to funding agreements, and new inspection criteria in England are also drivers of the need for change.  

The decision 

In their July meeting, the Board accepted the WEA Council’s recommendations that as of 1 August 2023, our regulations will be changed to de-constitute, or wind down, our Regional Committees and replace them with Local Advisory Panels in England.  

The role of a Local Advisory Panel 

Roles of advisory panel listed

The primary purpose of a panel will be to support WEA to achieve the full breadth of its charitable purpose, reaching the hardest to reach learners and responding to local needs. 

The panel will support and enable the engagement of learners and members in their locality, striving to hear from and respond to the full diversity of our learner cohort and the wider communities which would benefit from the learning we are able to offer. 

The panels will advise the Board of Trustees and report to them via the WEA Council. 

A six-month launch period 

We have set out an ambitious timetable for setting up these panels:

Phase plan for LAP formations across England

Recruitment to the panels 

We are directly targeting learners and external stakeholders such as leaders of community organisations and local employers to participate. 

Applications will open for Wave 1 and 2 panel members on 14th August and 11th September for Wave 3. 

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

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