By Judy Sillem

Did you know what WEA stands for? No? You are not alone. Despite serving the Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill community for several decades offering Adult Education to all, the significance of this laudable charity remains a well-kept secret.

Following the First World War, the government recognised the need for free education in the community outside the regular educational establishments. Funds were directed away from universities and channeled towards local Adult Education. Amongst the recommendations was provision for lifelong learning and “ample opportunity for adults to study and find self-realization”. It also recognized the vital importance of public libraries and museums. 


Here we are 100 years later looking at the state of today’s Adult Educational provision. Many classes offered by the local authority never run because the numbers are too low. Fees are high. Libraries have been closed, museums are struggling to encourage greater numbers and to educate and entertain visitors. Those with greater leisure time might not have the spare money, others may be working long hours to hold things together.

The WEA is a government-backed, registered charity, offering a wide range of classes. All of them are subsidised by the government to keep the prices reasonable: these are further reduced for those on a low income and are free for anyone on means-tested benefits. 

All are welcome to go to the WEA Open Day celebrating Adult Education over the last 100 years, held at the White Rock Hotel, Hastings, opposite the Pier, on Friday 12th July. There will be demonstrations from 11.00am in the morning, including a free talk on Social Change and Adult Education by David Alfred, watercolour painting and willow basketry. You will also be able to get a booklet of new courses (also displayed on the website) that are open for enrolment now.

  For more information contact the WEA through Facebook or visit to see courses available.

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