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In touch with working class

The Workers' Educational Association's management team and its trustees were delighted to see Graham Fowler's piece in FE Focus (TES, September 9).

I wanted to write to endorse the points he made and confirm that, within and across the association, our staff, volunteers and students share the current concerns about prospects for adult education.

As many readers will know, the WEA has had its own difficulties over the past couple of years. After much work we are now able, once again, to argue the case for adult education for a social purpose from the kind of non-conformist position Graham described.

Graham's article considers the participation of workers in WEA provision over the last century. Definitions of working class are frequently contested. However, in respect of educationally disadvantaged adults, the WEA reaches through their communities and workplace organisations. I would argue that well over half our provision is reaching working-class people.

This is not to disagree with Graham's welcome comments. The WEA is keen to join with others to promote, advocate and defend learning which engages with adults, makes education valuable to them in the varied aspects of their personal, family, community and working lives and gives them influence over what they learn.

Peter Templeton

Director of education

Workers' Educational Association

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