WEA staff from the North East Combined Authority Area Team had the pleasure of attending a Celebration of Achievement event, organised by Donna Utterson – Education Co-ordinator, working in partnership with Shaun Donnelly and Nicola McDonald from Bishopwearmoth Garden Centre, Sunderland. 

This award-winning garden co-op has been running since April 2017. It provides landscaping and floristry services. It offers work-based placements and volunteering opportunities to adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and enduring mental health needs. There are currently 16 employees with disabilities and 10 additional staff. The WEA have built up a successful partnership where values are shared and the importance of inclusive learning is demonstrated. Over the lifetime of the project over 50 students have gained employment, been promoted in their roles or gained access to voluntary work.

On this occasion, we were eager to see 16 students being presented with City and Guilds accreditation in Maths – Entry level 1. This is their first nationally recognised qualification in Functional Maths. Whilst studying for this qualification students participated in active learning strategies, using real money and a real cash register to prepare some of them for working in the garden Centre shop and future Café. They also learned to use an IPad in class to record their own role-plays, presentation of work and discussions.

Many thanks must go to WEA Tutor Diane Holmes – English, Maths and ESOL Specialist for the North East Region, and to Elizabeth Wake – Learning Support. 


Students at Marine Park Children’s Centre in South Shields have been working towards a City and Guilds Maths qualification.  The women, mainly from the local Bangladeshi community, have worked extremely hard to overcome language barriers and successfully achieved an Entry 3 level in Maths.  

At the last session, we celebrated their success with fabulous home cooked Bangladeshi food and a celebration cake, decorated by one of this group of very talented students.

WEA work in South Tyneside with South Tyneside Children’s Centres and deliver courses in Marine Park and All Saints Children’s Centres and will be working with Riverside Children’s Centre from September 2020.  We offer a range of subjects including Conversational English classes, Introduction to Teaching Assistants and Functional Skills Maths.  If you would like any information on courses running at the Centres, please contact Susan Heptinstall via sheptinstall@wea.org.uk or 07899065285.

Students with Tutor, Shelly Vinayak and Organiser, Susan Heptinstall.