Adult learners come to WEA courses with very varied motives and expectations.
What do we know about our learners?
There were nearly 15,000 enrolments in 2008-2009 for our courses across the region. Statstics for the year show the reach of our provision and the diversity of our learners:
- 55% live in postcodes which indicate deprivation (as defined by the government)
- 41% did not have to pay fees for economic reasons (as defined by funders)
- 53% had qualifications below Level 2 when they joined their course
- 21% had declared physical disability
- 9% had a declarde learning disability
- 25% were from a declared ethnic minority
The majority of our courses are targeted to attract particular groups of adult learners, but we also offer 'open access' courses, that bring together learners of different ages, abilities and experience. Most WEA learners have other commitments such as family, community or work responsibilities and learning is usually part-time at times to fit in with these activities. Whilst much of the provision is day time, it does also often take place after a day’s work.
Why do learners come to WEA courses?
Because each learner is different, our tutors will want to know why each one has enrolled on a WEA course. Motives range from simply having an interest in a subject or wanting to develop knowledge/skills for work, to making a cautious first step back into education after a break. This means we must avoid making assumptions and take time to understand what each individual learner wants from the experience.
To support tutors in managing these varied aspirations and needs, the WEA has introduced the Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement (RaRPA) Staged Process. This is a nationally-recognised framework used across adult education. It enables learners to manage their learning, track their progress and know what they have achieved by coming on the course.