Workers' Educational Association
The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) seeks to provide access to education and lifelong learning for adults from all backgrounds, and in particular those who have previously missed out on education. The International Federation of Workers Education Associations (IFWEA) has consultative status to UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

. Archbishop William Temple
William Temple (archbishop)
William Temple was a priest in the Church of England. He served as Bishop of Manchester , Archbishop of York , and Archbishop of Canterbury ....

 was a strong proponent of workers’ education.

Albert Mansbridge
Albert Mansbridge
Albert Mansbridge was a British educator who organized the adult education movement in Britain. He is best known for founding the Workers' Educational Association in England in 1903...

 established An Association to promote the Higher Education of Working Men in 1903 (renamed 'Workers Educational Association' in 1905).


The WEA is divided into nine regions in England (each matching a Government Office region), a Scottish Association and over 500 local branches. It creates and delivers about 14,000 courses each year in response to local need across England and Scotland, often in partnership with community groups and local charities. These courses provide learning opportunities for around 85,000 people per year, taught by over 2,500 professional tutors (most of whom work for the WEA part-time). These figures make the WEA the largest voluntary sector provider of adult education in Britain.

The WEA is a national charity and is supported by the Government through funding from the Skills Funding Agency in England, and in Scotland by the Scottish Executive and Local Authorities. It also receives fees from learners on many of its courses and is often successful in funding bids from government, lottery and other sources for educational projects in local communities around the country.

There are also Workers' Educational Associations in Northern Ireland and in North and South Wales. Since 1992/3, these have been entirely separate organisations from the WEA National Association, which now operates only in England and Scotland.

WEA London Region

It runs a wide range of local courses all over London, from Basic Skills to Beethoven; from Community Interpreting to Contemporary Literature; from Digital Media to Dance; from E-learning and Egyptology to English as a Second Language, and from Health and Safety to Helping in Schools.

These courses all share its common values:
  • Creating equality and opportunity, and challenging discrimination
  • Believing in people, communities and their potential to change through education
  • Putting the learner at the centre of everything we do

See some of its work at Galleryonline
or try an online course for free at its Learning Online Moodle site.

London Region Website

WEA Northern Ireland

The Workers’ Educational Association NI provides adult education in community and workplace settings. Its title is somewhat misleading as it provides education for all types of people and in particular tries to reach out to those who missed out on learning first time round. It works mainly with those over 18.

Some background ...
  • It was set up in Belfast in 1910 and part of a wider network of WEAs, the first of which started in England in 1903.
  • Today it operates across Northern Ireland and in the Border Counties in the Republic. It has around 6,500 learners in any given year.

Its courses are organized mainly in venues such as community halls, arts centres and training rooms in workplaces. In fact it can pretty much set up a course wherever and whenever a community group,
voluntary organization, union or employer needs it.

The WEANI’s Vision is a prosperous, creative and cohesive society where everyone is a learner.
Its Mission is to make learning irresistible.

Its values are:
  • When it comes to learning no-one should be left behind
  • People learn best and create most when they are open to difference
  • Working collaboratively is second nature to the WEA
  • Everyone receives a quality of service
  • Actively listening to learners is core to its business
  • Innovation and risk taking are essential

The WEANI's Vision, Mission and Values have shaped its Strategic Plan ‘Irresistible Learning’ which sets out its objectives up to 2013.

visit for more info.

Coleg Harlech WEA (North Wales)

Workers' Educational Association (North Wales) was established in 1925 as the North Wales District of the Workers' Educational Association. On 1 April 1993 it became a separate charity in response to the new funding arrangements for further education in Wales, under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 and on 1 August 2001 it merged with Coleg Harlech - a campus-based institution which shares the WEA's 'second chance' ethos - to form Coleg Harlech Workers' Educational Association (North Wales)
Coleg Harlech Workers' Educational Association (North Wales)
Coleg Harlech Workers' Educational Association was formed on 1 August 2001 by the merger of two of Wales’ oldest adult education bodies. The Workers’ Educational Association established in 1925 as the North Wales District of the Workers' Educational Association...

. The WEA in Wales is supported by DELLS (formerly ELWa), the funding arm of the Welsh Assembly Government.

WEA Australia

The WEA was established in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

 in 1913. Early work was patterned on the WEA in the UK. However, given the different demographic arrangements in Australia, and in the absence of other adult education providers, the WEA in Australia became a general adult education agency. In the 1980s a range of other training providers started offering adult education and the WEA’s role has changed. The WEA has many clubs and societies including the WEA Film Study Group
WEA Film Study Group
The WEA Sydney Film Society is a non-profit film society based in Sydney, Australia.It is a club of WEA Sydney, which is part of the Workers' Educational Association .-History:...


See also

  • Adult education
    Adult education
    Adult education is the practice of teaching and educating adults. Adult education takes place in the workplace, through 'extension' school or 'school of continuing education' . Other learning places include folk high schools, community colleges, and lifelong learning centers...

  • Community college
    Community college
    A community college is a type of educational institution. The term can have different meanings in different countries.-Australia:Community colleges carry on the tradition of adult education, which was established in Australia around mid 19th century when evening classes were held to help adults...

  • Continuing education
    Continuing education
    Continuing education is an all-encompassing term within a broad spectrum of post-secondary learning activities and programs. The term is used mainly in the United States and Canada...

  • Lifelong learning
    Lifelong learning
    Lifelong learning is the continuous building of skills and knowledge throughout the life of an individual. It occurs through experiences encountered in the course of a lifetime...

  • Vocational education
    Vocational education
    Vocational education or vocational education and training is an education that prepares trainees for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic, and totally related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation...


Lawrence Goldman
Lawrence Goldman
Lawrence Goldman is an historian and current editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He has an M.A. from the University of Oxford and a M.A. and PhD. from University of Cambridge...

, past President of the former Thames and Solent District WEA, has written:
  • Dons and Workers: Oxford and Adult Education Since 1850 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995)
  • 'Intellectuals and the English Working Class 1870-1945: The Case of Adult Education', History of Education 29:4 (1999), 281-300
  • 'Education as Politics: University Adult Education in England since 1870', Oxford Review of Education 25:1-2 (1999), 89-101




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