The Inspection report into the WEA in England has been published on the Ofsted website click here. The report confirms a strong WEA.
The report describes the overall effectiveness of WEA provision as good and identifies provision in the subject area of Health, Public Services and Care as outstanding. It also confirms that the WEA has strong capacity to improve further.
The report is very timely given the current review of Specialist Designated Institututions and the Informal Adult Learning consultation. I recognises that the WEA works in hundreds of local communities, including the most disadvantaged, with a continued commitment to maintaining high quality learning opportunities for adults at a time when many providers and the general policy direction is thought to have moved away from community based and part-time provision.
The report recognises the high proportion of new learners the WEA reaches each year and its excellent links with partners to reach priority target groups successfully. The democratic principles of the WEA continue to make a significant contribution to the Association’s work in local organising, regional and national decision making and governance.
WEA General Secretary, Richard Bolsin, said: ‘Everyone who has been working to support the WEA over the last few years will be delighted by the outcome – even though we entered this inspection with a sense of confidence. From a management and educational standpoint we’re very pleased with the result, particularly the fact that it fully supports our own pre-inspection judgements through self-assessment. I am greatly encouraged that this report also recognises the contribution of volunteers as a strength of the WEA. This is particularly welcome, given that it is our voluntary movement which makes the WEA unique.’
The six key strengths identified in the report are:
• good development of learners’ skills and knowledge;
• strong leadership;
• excellent partnerships;
• good performance management to promote involvement;
• very good responsiveness to community needs;
• the role and contribution of volunteers across the organisation.
The report also states that the WEA has, ‘maintained all of its key strengths since the previous inspection and rectified most of the weaknesses.’
Provision in Health, Public Services and Care is described as outstanding with ‘very good teaching and learning’, ‘highly flexible and responsive range of courses’, and ‘very strong partnerships to promote inclusion.’
The key areas for improvement are judged to be:
- Insufficient participation of men
- Insufficient sharing of good practice
- Under-developed arrangements to monitor and report learners’ success on non-accredited courses
- Inadequate formal arrangements to monitor learners’ progression
A wide range of WEA work is commended throughout the report including:
• the WEA’s national Helping in Schools programme;
• a Chester-based project helping to rehabilitate adults with alcohol and drug dependency;
• a community fitness and health education group in Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Stoke-On-Trent;
• citizenship courses in Sheffield bringing disparate groups together to find common ground.
We will contact WEA tutors with more details from the report and examine how the Tutor Network can look at some of the issues in particular subject areas along with actions taken by individual WEA regions.
Now that the report is published, please pass on this good news to anyone with an interest in the WEA.