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A brief history of the

Workers’ Educational Association Workers’ Educational Association committed to Equality and Diversity


A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Albert Mansbridge -

A Better World l Albert Mansbridge, founder of the WEA, left school at 14 and became a clerk at the Co-operative l Albert educated himself by attending university extension courses and believed a more equal, democratic and just world would come through education l 1903 - Albert was 27-years old when he founded ‘The Organisation for Education of Working Class Men’ with just 2/6d he borrowed from his wife, Frances l 1905 - the organisation quickly embraced the needs of working women and became known as the

Workers’ Educational Association 1


A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Britain in 1903

l Britain was still an imperial power, however there was huge inequality with an education system that mostly ended at age 12. Women had no vote but l Social reform was in the air. Co-operative societies were rooted in working class communities and technological change was coming with early experiments in radio

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A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Raising Educational Aspirations

By 1910 great progress had been made l Formal partnerships with the universities were established l Branches were formed all over the country with local organising committees l Students decided what they want to learn l R.H Tawney’s first tutorial classes were held in Rochdale l Teachers and students worked together as equals l Financial support was secured from central government l William Temple was elected as the first president of WEA l ‘The Highway’ magazine was first published 3


A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Britain in 1918

l The aftermath of the First World War brought high levels of national debt and the European refugee crisis but l Men over 21 and women over 30 were now able to vote and demands for social reform continued

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A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Building an Education Movement

WEA Home Duties Classes developed over time. As shown by this image from the 1950s

l 1918 - WEA campaigned successfully to raise the school leaving age to 15 l Sophie Green became the first female Tutor Organiser and made Women’s Education her priority l 1919 - Workers’ Educational Trade Union Committee formed l Diverse partnerships brought an eclectic range of activities including ramblers, choirs, art exhibitions l Book boxes and libraries were established and the WEA published many influential papers and documents

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A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Making a Difference: The Pitmen Painters

Len Robinson, Oliver Kilbourn, and Fred Laidler with their paintings

l In 1934, a group of miners studying with the WEA ‘accidentally’ discovered art when they couldn’t find a science tutor l They came to be known as the Pitmen Painters, creating their own celebrated work that documents their lives, work and community through painting

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A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Britain in 1945

WEA Home Duties Classes developed over time. As shown by this image from the 1950s

l The aftermath of the Second World War saw Britain suffer under poor living conditions and on-going rationing but l A new Labour Government was elected pledging to introduce the ‘Welfare State’ and the NHS

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A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Challenging and inspiring individuals, communities and society

l 1930s - WEA classes explored the political and economic roots of the global conflict l The WEA’s magazine ‘The Highway’ continued to challenge political thinking l 1944 - WEA campaigned with others for just and adequate education which became embodied in 1944 Education Act l 1945 - Labour won a landslide election with a cabinet including many WEA activists and supporters l In 1961 Raymond Williams wrote an open letter to WEA tutors reminding them of the centrality of democratic learning to WEA ethos 8


A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Britain in 1970s

l High rates of unemployment, high inflation and a global fuel crisis led to a decade of strikes l However, there was increased political awareness and women’s rights activism

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A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Educational opportunities for the disadvantaged

WEA Architecture Class

l 1973 - The Russell Report into adult education in the UK recommended a more definitive role for the WEA l The WEA provided more courses for working class women, those with learning difficulties, single parents and prison inmates l 1979 - WEA joined the campaign for women’s rights, by forming the Women’s Education Advisory Committee and ensured that childcare was not a barrier to learning

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A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

Changing curriculum and provision

WEA Project: Self Help for Life in Wakefield

l 1992 - The Further and Higher Education Act identified the contribution of the WEA and other specialist institutions in non- accredited education l 2003 - Following the Moser Report into Skills for Life, literacy, numeracy and ESOL programmes grew and became an integral part of the WEA’s curriculum l 2003 - WEA celebrated 100 years of providing and campaigning for education l 2012 - Ruth Spellman was appointed as the first female WEA General Secretary

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A brief history of the Workers’ Educational Association

The WEA today

WEA Slough students campaigning against cuts to ESOL classes

l WEA is now the UK’s largest voluntary-sector provider of adult education, with over 74,000 students participating in over 9,800 courses across England and Scotland each year

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WEA Contact Information

For general information on opportunities for volunteering with the WEA please email: volunteering@wea.org.uk or contact Pearl Ryall, Membership and Volunteering Development Manager on 0798 465 9291. For general information about membership and volunteering opportunities in your local area please contact your nearest Regional Office. East Midlands

Southern

Eastern

South West

London

West Midlands

North East

Yorkshire & Humber

North West

WEA Scotland

39 Mapperley Road, Nottingham NG3 5AQ T: 0115 962 8400 F: 0115 962 8402 E: eastmidlands@wea.org.uk W: www.weaeastmidlands.org Cintra House, 12 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1JP T: 01223 417320 F: 01223 417321 E: eastern@wea.org.uk W: www.wea-eastern.org.uk Unit 57 Riverside 2, Sir Thomas Longley Road, Rochester, Kent ME2 4DP T: 0800 328 1060 F: 01634 298601 E: london@wea.org.uk W: www.london.wea.org.uk

Joseph Cowen House, 21 Portland Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 1QQ T: 0191 212 6100 F: 0191 212 6101 E: northeast@wea.org.uk W: www.wea.org.uk The Cotton Exchange Building, Suite 405, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L3 9JR T: 0151 243 5340 F: 0151 243 5359 E: northwest@wea.org.uk W: www.nw.wea.org.uk

Unit 57 Riverside 2, Sir Thomas Longley Road, Rochester, Kent ME2 4DP T: 0800 328 1060 F: 01634 298601 E: southern@wea.org.uk W: www.southern.wea.org.uk Bradninch Court, Castle Street, Exeter EX4 3PL T: 01392 457300 F: 01392 457344 E: southwest@wea.org.uk W: www.wea-sw.org.uk 4th Floor, Lancaster House, 67 Newhall St, Birmingham B3 1NQ T: 0121 237 8120 F: 0121 237 8121 E: westmidlands@wea.org.uk W: www.westmidlands.wea.org.uk Suite 10B, Joseph’s Well, Hanover Walk Leeds LS3 1AB T: 0113 245 3304 F: 0113 245 0883 E: yorkshumber@wea.org.uk W: www.wea.org.uk/yh Riddles Court, 322 Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2PG T: 0131 226 3456 F: 0131 220 0306 E: hq@weascotland.org.uk W: www.weascotland.org.uk

4 Luke Street, London EC2A 4XW Tel: 0207 426 3450 Fax: 0207 426 3451 Email: national@wea.org.uk www.wea.org.uk

The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) is a charity registered in England and Wales (number 1112775) and in Scotland (number SC039239) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (number 2806910). Registered Office: Workers’ Educational Association, 4 Luke Street, London, EC2A 4XW

Profile for Workers' Educational Association

WEA History Booklet  

A brief history of theWorkers’ Educational Association

WEA History Booklet  

A brief history of theWorkers’ Educational Association

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