WEA Connect is our daily dial in for you to connect with the WEA. During this time of being asked to socially distance and self-isolate we want to make sure you’re still able to connect with us and each other.

Drop in online to:

  • Connect with your fellow volunteers
  • Find out what’s happening with WEA
  • Ask questions

We’ll be available for 30 minutes every day Monday to Friday and the CEO and Leadership Team will be joining in when they can.


Friday 22nd May 2020 - 2.00 - 2.30pm

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 008 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 974 8115 2316

We will be joined by Kathleen Formosa, Head of Corporate Governance & Company Secretary.


Tuesday 26th May 2020 - 10.00 - 10.30am

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 0808 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 950 5331 8008

We will be joined by Justine Walker, Head of Finance & Business Planning.

Wednesday 27th May 2020 - 2.00 - 2.30pm

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 0808 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 930 6575 3753

We will be joined by Simon Parkinson, CEO and General Secretary.


Thursday 28th May 2020 - 11.00 - 11.30am

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 0808 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 948 4926 7878

We will be joined by Margaret Johnson, Head of HR & Organisational Development


Friday 29th May 2020 - 2.00 - 2.30pm

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 008 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 938 4102 7064

We will be joined by James Ward, Director of Marketing, Membership & Income Growth.

Monday 1st June 2020 - 2.00 - 2.30pm

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 0808 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 913 3265 8730

We will be joined by Simon Parkinson, CEO & General Secretary.

Tuesday 2nd June 2020 - 10.00 - 10.30am

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 0808 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 960 1033 3133

We will be joined by James Ward, Director of Marketing, Membership & Income Growth.

Wednesday 3rd June 2020 - 2.00 - 2.30pm

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 0808 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 968 9147 5488


Thursday 4th June 2020 - 11.00 - 11.30am

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 0808 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 986 1320 6158

We will be joined by Ray McCowan, Director of Scotland


Friday 5th June 2020 - 2.00 - 2.30pm

To join via your PC, click here

By phone, dial 008 189 4088 and enter Meeting ID: 954 4992 3303

We will be joined by Susannah Forland, Head of Income Diversification and Growth

See below for questions which have been asked throughout May.  To view older answers from April, CLICK HERE.

14 – 20 May 2020



In relation to the volunteer survey, I understand that those whom don’t have email addresses are being contacted by phone in Yorkshire region. Is this being replicated across all regions?

Yes, all regions including WEA Scotland are doing the same.

Staff are phoning volunteers to reach out and check on their wellbeing at this time and offering to go through the volunteer survey over the phone with them if they wish.

We’ve been giving feedback with glitches on the website – are these being gathered and looked at?

Yes they are.

The marketing team are looking at improving, streamlining and making navigation easier on the site and also devising easier ways of raising issues encountered.

Some of our students have been having difficulties getting on to Canvas, what can they do?

Because of the fast pace with which we’ve had to transfer our courses online, there are some glitches and we are continuing to work on improving the process.

On signing up for a course, students should receive a confirmation email with a link to Canvas and how to enrol on it, followed by a second email with the zoom link.

For any issues with this, students should contact Support Services on 0300 303 3464 or email at courseenquiries@wea.org.uk.

We focus a lot on delivering the content to our students, but not so much on helping our students to access that content, especially important now as we have gone online.  Could we devise a short tutorial for students on how to access Canvas and Zoom including around the different devices people use?


Yes, we have a number of things planned including drop-ins for students, and initiatives via the website so watch this space.

Another initiative in the pipeline is for our students who are not online, where we are devising newsletters with education content which can be posted.

Could these newsletters be circulated to our learning circles?

Yes, this is a good idea, we will look into it.

I have a student who hasn’t had a refund yet, what is happening?

The finance team have been working very hard to get through the large volume of refunds so bear with us.

If the refund hasn’t been received within the next couple of weeks or so, the student can contact the finance team on 0300 303 3464, option 3.

Justine Walker, Head of Finance & Business Planning will also be on the Connect call on Tuesday 26th May and can answer any finance questions.

We’ve heard about the Governance Review which is currently underway, is this around changing the status of the WEA or more about how we organise ourselves internally?

It is about how we operate internally – about the roles and responsibilities at the various governance levels.

This should hopefully ensure that all our volunteers in branches, at regional level and above are clear on what they are there to do and how they can contribute and should in turn help to better bind the organisation together across the UK as ‘one association’ and movement for adult education.

Kathleen Formosa will be joining the WEA Connect call on Friday 22nd May and will be able to answer any questions on the governance review.

How long do treasurers and secretaries have to keep records for, including Branch meetings and AGM minutes, student records – enrolment registers etc, financial records?

As per the WEA Data Retention Policy and Schedule:-


• Branch financial records should be kept for 7 years


• Constitutional / governance records – branch start up / closure records, statement of representation, minutes and annual reports should be held indefinitely, i.e. archived


• Student / class enrolment – this data is primarily held centrally on WEAMIS, so we will clarify with the data protection team on how long branches should hold on to this data.


The WEA Data Retention Policy and Schedule can be found at https://intranet.wea.org.uk/data-protection/data-protection-polices-and-procedures.


Is the ActivitiesLive website secure if it is much easier to access?

Yes, it is secure as you have to register first and only after that is it easy to gain access.


However, tutors have all been trained how to remove inappropriate people (Zoom bombers), which can be done instantly.


Can students use an iPad to access an online course?

Yes, an iPad, android phone or laptop can be used.

There is a slightly different interface depending on the device e.g. the chat button on ZOOM may be at the top of the page for a tablet whereas it is at the bottom of the page on a laptop.


On the landing page for ActivitiesLive – www.wea.org.uk/ActivitiesLive, there are instructions for different devices.


A Basic tip is that you hover and click on laptops/PCs, tap on iPads or iPhones, swipe on android and other tablets.


You mentioned in the GDPR update, you would like us to send postcodes of our branch. Where do we feedback this information?


There is an article in the Volunteer Newsletter due out on 22nd May, which will detail the email address to send this to.

Where will we see the ten FAQ’s as part of the GDPR guidance that you have been working on?

Prior to this information being released to the full volunteer population, we will review it with our communications focus group to ensure that the wording and terminology is clear and understandable.


Expanding on the chat we have had about income generation, do you feel that funders will continue to support us indefinitely?

We have had commitment from funders until the end of July and most have also confirmed for 2021, which is great news.

7 May – 12 May 2020



You mentioned KPI in your marketing update, what does KPI mean?

A KPI is a 'Key Performance Indicator'. These are targets we set across the organisation to measure our performance.

One example would be - Increase overall website traffic.

Last year we had roughly 546,000 site visits (August - July) and we are currently on 555,000 site visits (August-13th May) vs a target of 530,000 so we can see that we are well on track.

What are some other KPI's you have?


Other examples are:-

To increase Paying vs Non Paying members to a 50/50 split

To focus on volunteer journeys as opposed to the numbers

Will you continue with a one week priority enrolment for members?

Yes, this is an exclusive member benefit.

When are you thinking about reopening?

We cannot confirm an exact time right now this is entirely dependent upon the advice from the Government.

We can provisionally say 5-6 weeks but of course is completely subject to change.

Can an update be uploaded on the website that will give an update on the plans for returning to normal?


Yes, we will do this as soon possible, but of course, this will be subject to change given the fluidity of the situation with Covid-19 and the lifting of the lockdown.

Will WEAMis be updated and ready to go once things return to 'normal'?



What are we doing to engage with students who are not online?


We are looking at ideas around contacting these students by post with activities / courses they can engage with, almost like a correspondence course model.


Obviously need to be mindful of GDPR and cost.


Given the Prime Minister's most recent update at the weekend, what does this mean for the WEA and the next few months going forward?



We have invested a lot of time and effort to ensure our colleagues, learners and volunteers are safe at home and we don’t have any immediate plans to ask people to return to offices or venues to work until the situation becomes clearer.


We are operating well with staff at home and the online courses. Many of our staff and volunteers rely on public transport and right now, we wouldn't encourage using it.


Have you made plans to phase the return of activities for the Autumn Term?


Any course that is scheduled will run online until we are confident that people will be safe.


In addition to this, although we are flexible, we are not in control of the venues, therefore we are restricted on certain courses returning to 'normal'.


We are however planning a phased return for blended learning where we can and mapping out key sessional venues.


Can we contact local venues to keep in touch and potential secure places for when things do go back to 'normal'?

Yes, it's great to keep contact and maintain the relationships, however we can’t provide a date of return yet.

I am interested in Office 365 meaning that branches will be able to talk to each other, when will branches get Office 365?


As an organisation, we get a free licence to Office 365 with a business email address, so we want to give it to those who need it, including branch volunteers. Potentially we would provide a laptop for this purpose.


However, whilst we realise the need, we have to look at the current logistics and cost

We also have to be in a position to offer the necessary training and support including GDPR considerations.


Much as we would like to help in this way, realistically it may take some time.


Many branches don’t have internet access in locations where they meet – can the WEA provide dongles to allow internet access in such locations? 

Yes absolutely.


Another area we are working on, is the provision of a toolkit (classroom in a box), which has all the needs for a course such as laptop, other devices, dongle etc. The whole bundle could be booked out to a tutor or a venue such as a community centre etc.


If a branch has a need for a dongle, let us know and we will provide one for sharing in the branch.


We have mainly talked about laptops – is the term interchangeable with PC – for example, can a PC do everything a laptop can do? 

Yes, they are both computers. A laptop is just a mobile version of a PC.


Is an iPad equally as good as a PC for using Office 365? 

Yes absolutely, though an iPad presents slightly differently.  As far as our Office 365 subscription is concerned, it would be fine as the application is browser based.


You access it through office.com, then log-in as the application is hosted in the cloud.


How can I tell if I have office 365 already – would I be paying for it? 


Yes, you would be paying for it if you had an individual subscription.

Otherwise, go on office.com and try to sign in with email address and normal computer password. If you can’t get in, your email address would be authenticated in the cloud (if you have an active subscription) and you would be sent a ‘Reset Password’ email.

If I had a laptop from the WEA, would it be solely for WEA business?

Normal day-to-day personal use is also allowed, e.g. Amazon shopping, checking emails, browsing the internet.  There is Acceptable Use policy here: https://intranet.wea.org.uk/data-protection/data-protection-polices-and-procedures


What is not allowed on WEA computers?

All the things you would expect e.g. gambling, adult only sites, video-gaming.


Is there a grant from the WEA for your own equipment as computers are expensive?

No unfortunately not. You may be interested our Bring your own Device Policy here: https://intranet.wea.org.uk/data-protection/data-protection-polices-and-procedures 

I was unable to provide a WEA background for the ZOOM sessions tomorrow (in lieu of WEA Conference) – I believe the WEA computer was not technically able for the job. What can I do?

We now have a 3 year warranty on computers, therefore we can look at the age of your computer by provision of the serial no. and replace if older than 3 years. Alternatively if a higher spec is required, we arrange for an upgraded model.


30 April – 6 May 2020



A revised Student privacy notice was recently been circulated to students, what amendments were made?

The only amendment made was to allow WEA to contact students with the opportunity to donate to the WEA if they wish.

Is it possible to share Kathleen’s valuable update on the Governance review with other members?

We can look into potentially getting Kathleen to write / record something for the volunteer newsletter.

Please can we have clarification on the safety and security of Zoom / Canvas?


A statement on zoom security was published in the April Volunteer newsletter and the detail can be found at https://www.wea.org.uk/zoom-security-and-guidance.


Richard Wilkes will also be joining us on a  Connect call soon and can answer questions.

There seems to be lots of communications to volunteers and duplication within communications.  This is not helped by the fact that volunteers are also WEA members so they are receiving everything.


It is a difficult balancing act because many of our volunteers fall into several categories – members, students, tutors and sometimes the message to each of those audiences on the same topic can be slightly different.

This, coupled with the fact that our systems historically haven’t linked with each other well, means that we can’t be as integrated as we would like, although we do hope to improve this over time.

However, what we have been able to do is achieve better consistency in our communications and will continue to try to improve and streamline these as we go forward.

Having reviewed the Volunteer Survey that I received, I have not been offered all the support mentioned in the Support Section.

The survey exercise will help us to identify the gaps in our offer, so even if your replies aren’t necessarily positive, that is still a really valued response and exactly what we need to hear.

Again, after reviewing the Volunteer Survey that was I received, I have never had training for my roles not even concerning my responsibilities as a regional committee member / vice-chair.

We are working on the ‘volunteer journey’, as we call it, and are aware that training is needed for different roles.


However, we have to be sensitive to requirements for different levels of volunteering.  New volunteers may be put off by too much red tape at the outset, so a lighter touch may be required in the first instance.  But, appropriate training would undoubtedly be useful as volunteers progress through the organisation.

It is pleasing that we have received 260 responses to our survey already - that is over 10% of our volunteers.

Regional Committee roles are very important and, as part of our wider Governance Review taking place at the moment, we would like regional committee members to understand their roles and that is an area we are looking at.

There have been surveys before that haven’t been overly successful. I hope this one yields some actual results in terms of lessening of paperwork. I would also hope staff attend classes to understand problems experienced by volunteers.

There are various avenues where these sorts of issues can be raised - for example, local / regional committees, Council and focus groups.


The results of the volunteer survey will be shared on WEA Connect and via the Volunteer newsletter.  We will conduct this exercise regularly with the hope that in a couple of years’ time we will be able to confidently say there has been some improvement in the volunteer experience.


We need to work with the Leadership & Management Team to effect change, though there will always be some things we can’t change.


Students, enrolled on face-to-face courses which have been cancelled due to Covid-19, are being given the option to give their fee as a donation rather than receive a refund – how is it going?

Some students enrolled on courses in advance have transferred their full fee, or part- fee to a donation to the WEA.


There have been 187 donations recorded via our course management system so far, which has been amazing!


In general, how does someone donate to the WEA?

On the home page of the website there is an orange ‘Donate’ button top left of page - just click on that and you will be taken through the process.


As of June we will also be encouraging donations via our membership communications as this is unrestricted income, which gives the WEA freedom to use the income where needed most.


Our treasurer is frustrated by complicated procedures. Will the paperwork get easier?

We now have Financial Processing branches (FP) and Non-Financial Processing branches (NFP).


The FP branches have a treasurer in the traditional way, with responsibility for their own bank account and payments – these treasurers do their own branch termly and annual return. Many branches continue to function in this way.


However, some branches have opted to become NFP branches – this takes away the transactional side of the treasurer role and the finance team in Leeds then pay invoices and complete an termly and annual return on the NFP branches’ behalf etc.


We worked very closely with regional treasurers to set up the new system and it has worked very well for those branches who have opted to become NFP.


The finance team has been supportive as possible, offering ZOOM sessions and / or telephone support for branches.


Is there any move to make all branches NFP?

There are no plans currently for this idea. The present situation works well whereby branches who want to process their own finances are able to do so, whereas branches who prefer the non-transactional approach have a viable alternative.


Our branch has inherited accounts dating back over 30yrs – is it still the 6 year rule that financial records have to be retained?

Yes financial records have to be kept for 6 years, but older records have to be disposed of properly by shredding.  If this is a problem, then records can be sent back to Leeds for disposal.

Instead of giving the summer courses for free, can we ask students to pay for a membership to enable them to access the courses, then we would increase membership as well?

When students enrol, they are asked if they are interested in membership of the WEA.


We do also have to generate a certain number of learners to fulfil our ESFA and other contracts, adding this restriction could deter a student from enrolling, however there is a ‘Donate’ button on the enrolment form so that students are encouraged to donate if they are able to do so.


How many students that have enrolled on the online courses are new to the WEA?

It’s early days yet, those sort of statistics will be looked at further down the line, but interesting point.


Well done to all the staff for their hard work making things easier for branches and responding so well to the current situation.

We are very pleased to hear that and will feedback to our Tuesday team meeting and to Jacky Grainger (branch accountant) who was very involved in setting up the NFP branch process.


Great to hear that our work has made a difference to branches!  If there is anything our team can do to make life easier for branches, please let us know.


This was a comment that was raised some time ago, but our treasurer has mentioned that communication with Finance is difficult, please can you advise?

We have kept the same dedicated email address financebranches@wea.org.uk and the same phone no. 0300 303 3464, option 3.


These details have remained the same even with all staff working from home.


Can you advise on how our branch can overcome the issue of pricing courses as we are not always informed of this in a timely manner?

This should be communicated by your region as it arises from the Regional Fee Policy.


If you have any further problems, please bring it back to a future Connect call.


Thanks for update on efforts to support branches with GDPR.  What is the ‘truth list’ you refer to?

This is a definitive list of students at a given point. It is not a static list, but one that is created for a specific purpose when needed.

Will the ‘truth list’ (definitive list of students) contain contact details?

Right now we can’t say for sure, but we are looking at ways to include this.

Does the ‘truth list’ come with direction on how to use and store information?

We are working on a simple guide that will cover two areas – What branches can and can’t do with the information and how the information can be used for communication purposes.


We are also creating a list of FAQs which we will build over time as a point of reference.


Be assured that we are working with our Communications team to ensure all wording is clear and easy to understand.

Will you trial this guide before issuing?

Yes, through Communication focus group and GDPR working group.


We would also be happy to share this on a Connect call.

With regards to your efforts at tailoring consent options for receiving information from the WEA, would it be possible for a drop down list that gives the preference for branch contact when an individual inputs their marketing preferences?

We can certainly look into it and see if it is viable. We are looking at how the form is formatted to ensure that people receive the information they want to receive.


We have found that people who ‘opt out’ of marketing do actually miss out on certain information that they require. This therefore has prompted us to look at more differentiated preference options to ensure people only receive the information they require.


See below for questions which have been asked throughout May.  To view older answers from April, CLICK HERE.