The work of the WEA is transforming cities by engaging with their communities – true ‘Future City’ shapers.
As part of their annual regional meetings, participants will be invited to hear and share views about the current Knowledge Exchange project between the WEA North East and SOLE Central at Newcastle University. The aim of the project is to jointly develop new ways of working within adult learning and education drawing on the SOLE concept. SOLE stands for Self Organised Learning Environments and SOLE Central brings together researchers, practitioners, policy makers and entrepreneurs interesting in rethinking the future design of education for communities all over the world through a global experiment into a School in the Cloud.
Dr Anne Preston from SOLE Central has been working with the WEA North East staff to identify development areas and synergies between SOLE, regional and national strategies and campaigns such as the Social Purpose campaign. Most recently, she has been working with a WEA North East tutor to develop a SOLE toolkit for adults with learning difficulties.
Who are the WEA?
The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) is the largest voluntary sector provider of adult education in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1903, it is a national organisation dedicated to addressing, particularly, the learning needs of those adults who have previously benefited least from the education system and from opportunities for further and higher education. The Association is governed by elected Trustees and an Association Committee drawn, principally, from the voluntary membership. Each Region has its own voluntary governance and is managed by staff.
The WEA North East Region works in partnership with voluntary sector and statutory agencies in towns and villages across the region from Northumberland to Tees Valley. Last year they ran over 500 courses in a wide range of subjects from English to Green Thinking, from art to history and creative writing. The courses fit with their four themes of culture, employability, community engagement, and health and well-being.
WEA is a membership organisation. Members are involved at all levels of the Association, from student groups to the National Trustees. At local levels, members get involved through local branches and community groups; they plan local courses and help to recruit students and govern the WEA region’s activities through the regional committee.
For the WEA North East Region, their educational challenge is to balance their approach to provision in ways which recognise and reconcile the WEA style and tradition of democratic adult learning negotiated with students, recognising their needs and interests, while meeting the requirements of various funding regimes and opportunities.
Their curriculum strategy addresses best practice within adult and community learning, policy directions from funding bodies such as the SFA, new directions in qualifications, quality standards monitored by Ofsted, and comprehensive provision for adult learners.
They have a commitment to social purpose and the economic and social regeneration of the Region.