I’ve been passionate about the transformative impact of education for adults for many years. Why? Why not read our full report, where you can see the impact it can have on the lives of students like Kimberley, Vicky and Parisa, whose learning experiences are celebrated in this report. 

The WEA exists to open up both opportunity and joy to our students. Our purpose is to bring adult education within reach of the thousands who could benefit from a second chance, a confidence boost or the opportunity to share their passion and skill. Together we have risen to the challenge of the last year. I am confident that, given the right resources, we will do more in the future.

John Widdowson
WEA Chair

The community-embedded approach of the WEA is unique. The impact results you can read in this report demonstrate how effective this approach is. However, like many organisations, our operating model was turned upside down by COVID-19.

I’m so impressed by our response across the organisation: ramping up our online provision and expanding our membership offer. We never closed to students, members and volunteers. In fact, we were more open than ever given the move to online. The take-up and engagement have proved a real game-changer.

I hope the
full impact report inspires you as much as the students we meet do us.

Simon Parkinson
CEO and General Secretary

WEA impact in numbers

Enhancing employability

WEA has always supported people furthest away from employment to build up vocational skills, so they stand a chance when applying for a role.

For those with few formal qualifications, our training can provide valuable experience and add a point of difference to their CV, or while also giving them the confidence to apply in the first place.

We help people get into that first job, be successful in recovering from redundancy and to progress at work. With our population working longer and the UK’s economic challenges, the work WEA does to support those with few or no qualifications to improve their chances, is becoming ever more important.

For more information on how we support our learners get into and progress at work, including key employability skills such as English, literacy, numeracy and digital skills, please read our full Impact Report. Here you will also find more information on the impact of that work. 

Click here to download the full report

Protecting and enhancing health and wellbeing

Mental health is no longer the taboo subject it once was. At last, people can openly discuss their challenges, but there is so much to be done to help the one in six people who experience a mental health problem in any one week (according to the charity Mind).

The community setting and small group context provided by WEA builds connections and provides students with a safe place to develop their confidence with the support of a tutor and a new network of fellow students. During the lockdown, our online courses succeeded in protecting those relationships, bringing valuable support to students on a regular basis.

For more information on how the WEA has supported our students to maintain or improve their physical and mental health, including providing vital connections and reducing isolation during lockdown, see our full Impact Report. Here you will also find more information on the impact of that work.

Click here to download the full report

Developing communities and culture

WEA has always provided a rich tapestry of courses to inspire and involve our students in the arts, crafts and humanities, opening up culture to those who are by location or budget unable to access cultural events or visit national treasures.

During lockdown and social distancing, access to cultural experiences has been even harder to achieve. As such, our courses have been an important source of enrichment for many.

We have transformed our normal community venue courses for delivery within our virtual learning environment and through Zoom – and we’ve been creative ourselves, sending tutors to view national treasures and streaming them live to their students.

By inspiring students with a love of the arts, the WEA will play an important part in providing a warm audience to speed the sector’s recovery

The WEA’s community based learning provides skills at the hearts of the communities we serve, enabling our students of all ages to play a full, involved and supportive role in their communities. Indeed those from BAMER backgrounds, or who have studied English as a second language particularly have ploughed back their learning and energies into their communities.

For more information on how the WEA has developed cultural knowledge, skills and supported individuals to play an active role in their communities, see our full Impact Report.

Click here to download the full report

Impact through lockdown - the move to online

In recent years, the WEA had begun to develop a small volume of the curriculum in our virtual learning environment.

Then COVID-19 struck. The WEA, like many organisations, were blindsided overnight. The need for our students to continue learning, with or without face-to-face support, made the decision very simple: we needed to adapt rapidly.

We set about a massive increase in the number of available courses, growing our digital offer from just 30 to over 200 within the spring term alone.

We’ve been really impressed with course take up, the positive feedback and student engagement with this curriculum.

Yet, there are still many barriers to fantastic learning experiences like this. The Lloyds Digital Index focuses on four primary challenges – lack of skills, affordability of data, lack of technology and connectivity.

Many of our students have needed a little extra support to get used to using technology to access their learning and our tutors have been happy to oblige – one step overcome. Our Digital Lifeline campaign is raising funds to provide kit, connectivity and support. If you can help us, please visit our Virgin Money Giving donation page 

For more information on our journey online and what it’s meant for our students, see our full Impact Report.

Click here to download the full report

Download our full impact report

To read how we delivered our mission and to digest our vital statistics and evidence of our impact, please download our full impact report below.

2019/20 was not the year we expected, but here at the WEA, we reached over 39,000 adults supporting them not only with vital skills for changing careers but giving them a lifeline.

Learning is so much more than knowledge. It is confidence, friendship, purpose and above all hope. 

This is our impact report; this is our 'A year to remember'.

An introduction from our Chair and CEO

Download the full WEA Impact Report

Press query or question? Please contact news@wea.org.uk