Registration is now open for our Members Conference and WEA Council Annual General Meeting, which will be held on Zoom on Friday 30th September 2022.
 
Connect with fellow members, share your thoughts, and develop ideas together about how WEA can continue bringing high quality adult education within reach of everyone. 

Book your place today

All WEA members are welcome to attend for free. If you’re not yet a member of WEA you can join here for just £15 per year. Membership is free for people under 25, people on low incomes, people who receive certain benefits, and current volunteers. If you would like to attend the 2022 Members Conference please make sure you sign up to become a member by 31st August.

Join us on the day for workshops and discussions about: 

  • Designing the learning communities of the future 
  • Improving learner experiences today 
  • Reaching more diverse groups of learners 
  • Developing and strengthening our local branches 
  • Supporting our volunteers 
  • WEA’s strategy for the coming years. 

We’ll also be announcing the winner of the 2022 WEA Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award, and sharing the results of the recent Council elections.
 
If you have any questions or problems with registration, please contact us at annual.conference@wea.org.uk.

Member Conference 2022 Programme 

09:00 – 09:15 Welcome 

Welcoming everyone to the 2022 Member Conference, as well as sharing housekeeping information and any last-minute updates or changes. 

09:15 – 09:45 Looking ahead: challenges and opportunities for WEA  

In this workshop we want to hear your thoughts on the challenges and opportunities that you see facing WEA over the next five years, what existing strengths and resources we can draw on to meet them, and where we may need to learn and grow.   

Facilitator: TBC 

09:45 – 10:00 Break 

10:00 – 11:00 WEA Council business 

This is our formal WEA Council Annual General Meeting, including reports from the Board of Trustees, the Treasurer, responses to any motions raised by members, and the results of the recent Council elections.  

Facilitator: TBC

11:00 – 11:15 Break 

11:15 – 12:00 Designing future learning communities 

If we could start with a blank slate, how would we shape the WEA learning community of today? What can we do from where we are to make WEA learning even more accessible and inclusive? How can WEA learning engage and support our local communities? You’ll hear some fresh thinking about creating thriving communities of learning, which you’ll have a chance to discuss with fellow members. 

Facilitators: Walt Crowson, James Ward, and Katie Easey 

12:00 – 12:15 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award 

The Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented by WEA Chief Executive and General Secretary Simon Parkinson. 

12:15 – 12:45 Lunch 

12:45 – 13:30 Improving learner experience – panel and Q&A 

A panel of WEA members each share some aspect of teaching or support – from tutors, volunteers, or peers – which helped to improve a student’s experience of WEA learning, followed by a Q&A and a chance for attendees to share their ideas too. 

Facilitators TBC

13:30 – 14:30 Breakout workshops  

1A: Developing and strengthening our local branches 

An interactive session exploring some of the barriers and challenges facing our local branches and how we can continue to develop them to meet the needs of WEA learners today and tomorrow. 

Facilitators: Anne King and Katie Easey 

1B: Governance: Building a strong foundation for the future 

Good governance is essential for WEA to thrive, and something we can always keep improving. Join this session to hear findings from our recent governance review and an update on our progress so far.  

Facilitators: TBC and Kathleen Formosa 

14:30 – 14:45 Break 

14:45 – 15:45 Breakout workshops   

2A: Reaching and welcoming more diverse groups of learners 

As the largest provider of adult education in England and Scotland, our learners already include people from all walks of life and a huge range of backgrounds and experiences. But we know there’s more we can do to reach and to welcome underrepresented communities into our classes. Join this session to hear about WEA's commitment to improving equality, diversity, and inclusion across the organisation and to share ideas and insights with other members for how we can continue to bring quality adult education within reach of everyone. 

Facilitators: Rosemary Mayes and Iñigo Pradera 

Breakout workshop 2B: Support and development for volunteers 

WEA is supported by almost 2,000 volunteers in a huge variety of roles including branch members, learner representatives, and volunteers carrying out vital classroom support and community outreach, as well as all our committee members and officers. In this workshop we’ll share information about what support we currently offer our volunteers, then open the floor to hear from you about your needs and your ideas for ways to improve the WEA volunteering experience. 

Facilitators: Matthew Pointon and Susannah Forland 

15:45 – 16:00 Break 

16:00 – 16:15 Making 2023 the Year of the Branch 

Join us for a sneak preview of our plans to make 2023 ‘the Year of the Branch’, showcasing and celebrating the amazing work taking place around the country at our WEA branches. 

Facilitators: Walt Crowson and Katie Easey 

16:15 – 16:30 WEA’s strategy for the future 

Chief Executive and General Secretary Simon Parkinson will present our new ‘Creating Opportunities’ strategy, outlining our plans and our hopes for WEA’s future. 

16:30 – 16:45 Close and Q&A  

We’ll end the day with a Q&A with Chief Executive and General Secretary Simon Parkinson and other members of the WEA Council and leadership team. 

Facilitator biographies

Walt Crowson – Chair North West Region

I have has a lifelong interest in community education and community development. In1978 I joined Hind Leys Community College in Shepshed, Leicestershire. This was one of Andrew Fairburn’s (Director of Education for Leicestershire) ground breaking projects which looked at lifelong learning from the cradle to the grave. Alongside the traditional 14 – 18 year olds attending the College was a creche and a playgroup, a Youth Centre open 5 nights a week, and a thriving Adult Education programme engaging over 200 local adults. From there I moved to Manchester as a Community Education Tutor at a Community School in North Manchester running both youth and adult education provision. In the mid 90’s I took up the post of Head of Community Education at MANCAT (now subsumed into The Manchester College) running a wide range of daytime, evening and weekend provision in 3 neighbourhood based Community Education Centres run by the College, including my first taste on online learning through Learndirect. On leaving the College I established and supported a network of voluntary sector learning providers across the City, including the WEA, called LSEN (Learning Skills and Employment Network) which in turn created a voluntary sector led organisation, Manchester First, which successfully bid for a wide range of contracts across the City and beyond

Rosemary Mayes

I worked in adult and higher education for all of my career ending up as Director of the Open University in London and Chair of Aim Higher in London, which was a very successful Government initiative to encourage young people from non-traditional backgrounds to go to university. All my working life was about encouraging diversity and I continued this interest when I became a WEA Trustee and subsequently Chair of the WEA Regional Committe. We have now established a London and Southern EDI Interest Group which has run a series of events relating to EDI matters and we hope to extend the range of activities and level of participation over the next year.

Iñigo Pradera 

I am a proud Basque person who has been working in education and with charities since I finished university. I have been the head of education for UNICEF Andalusia, dedicating my time to promote Children’s Rights from early years to university level. At WEA I have been working 5 years as an education coordinator, currently supporting branches in Southern region and also coordinating the activities and workshops run by the London and Southern EDI Group. I firmly believe in equality, try to enjoy diversity in all aspects of my life and I think that we need to work hard to improve the levels of inclusion in society.