Social Media Action Plans – what and why?

Social media is a constant in modern society, but are we using it effectively?

Within the WEA, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress blogs and other social media platforms are being used to promote, inform, educate and engage. The WEA is connecting with existing and prospective students, colleagues, partners and influential policy makers. The Yorkshire and Humber Region is a part of this, making notable strides to extend its digital reach.

Today in Leeds staff and tutors are gathering to develop social media action plans relevant and appropriate to their work and the WEA. The session will explore different social media platforms, marketing objectives, target audiences, proactive steps to achieving marketing goals and give participants chance to develop their own social media action plan. The action plan is an opportunity to think about the most appropriate social media platforms and the actions necessary to achieve those goals.

If you are attending the session please add your thoughts and comments.

We would also love to hear from others on their views of social media and their own social media action plans.


Tutored Residential Writers’ Retreat

UntitledI wanted to post about the WEA’s brand new, two night residential creative writing retreat  as soon as we got the go ahead to run it, but the first course booked up so quickly there wasn’t time. I’m pleased to say that we have now added a further two dates, so that there will be space, hopefully, for everyone who wants to attend.

The course will consist of workshops, structured writing time and focus groups. Each student will also have the opportunity of a one to one session with one of the tutors to discuss any aspect of their writing.

Students may choose to work on their own projects or start something from scratch using the workshops for inspiration, information and advice.

There is space for 24 students on each course and they will stay in single, en-suite rooms and take their meals in the dining hall of Wentworth Castle, home to the Northern College, just outside of Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Hopefully, if the weather is kind to us, we will be able to use the grounds and peace of the castle for inspiration and creative nurturing.

The retreats are being held on

Mon – Wed 12th -14th August 2013

Mon – Wed 9-11 September 2013 and

Fri – Sun 11th – 13th April 2014

If you would like further information about the retreats please contact


Alison Taft (AJ Taft) is the author of a series of novels featuring Lily Appleyard, a dreadlocked social policy student who seeks to reunite broken families – starting with her own.

The first in the series, Our Father Who Art Out There…Somewhere was published in 2011 and the second, Shallow Be Thy Grave will follow later this year, both from Caffeine Nights. Alison is currently at work putting the finishing touches to the third.

James Nash is a writer and a poet. Based in Leeds, his third collection of poems, Coma Songs was published in 2003 and reprinted in 2006, and he has two poems in Branch-Lines [Enitharmon Press 2007] among fifty contemporary poets, including Seamus Heaney and U. A. Fanthorpe.

James had a kindle collection, A Bit of An Ice Breaker published in 2013, followed by Some Things Matter: 63 sonnets late last year, both from Valley Press.




Working Class Heroes

This is my second attempt to do this following the session at York recently.This is because technology and I do not get on as it hates me-I know this is paranoid and irrational but I am convinced it is true.Anyway I would firstly like to echo the sentiments of the tutor who spoke of putting away the Trojan Horse-I also feel the WEA is the natural “home” for my talents such as they are.To get to the point I have put together/am putting together a course entitled Working Class Heroes -history told from the perspective of “ordinary” working people as opposed to the standard Kings and Queens and accounts of battles the outcome of which made no difference at all to 95% of those taking part in them (e.g.what difference would it have made to the average English peasant if the French bloke had won at Agincourt rather than Henry?).We will look at things like the rise of Trade Unions ,the history of the Labour Party as well as slightly more challenging stuff like “What does been Working Class mean?” and how the media has tended to portray working people.In addition I want to make it as inter-active as possible with people contributing their own experiences and by inviting people involved in WC politics and movements.This could include politicians but I would be at least as interested in grass roots activists,shop floor Union reps and so on.Therefore if you have anything to contribute,or you know someone who has -OR IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN JOINING THE COURSE- then whether you are a tutor,volunteer or student I would be delighted to hear from you.My direct email is 639639.


Graham Armitage

Time to put the trojan horse out to grass?

As a new WEA tutor I was excited that at last here was an organisation whose vision, mission and values resonated with my own so well. I haven’t been disappointed. I have worked for many years in the education sector, with adult learning, CPD and professional education, colleges and schools. In most cases I have felt that I have been able to achieve my ambitions for the students I have worked with under the guise of whatever buzz phrase enabled me access to them. Currently employability does the trick, latterly enterprise and in the early days learning to earn have all been used in the pursuit of personal and professional satisfaction.

I attended the training day in York on Saturday and was able to exercise my mind with colleagues and to share my experiences from the other settings in which I work as a self-styled social entrepreneur, mentor and teacher. I was inspired and informed to use my newly acquired ipad and associated skills to develop my blogging and entered into the passionate debates about OFSTED and what makes an outstanding session. I came away absolutely convinced that I had found an organisation – or should I say movement – where I can at last put my trojan horse out to grass. I will confidently and openly pursue happiness in being able to empower the people I work with through creative and compassionate facilitiation which enables them to realise and release their potential.

What does outstanding teaching, learning and assessment look like?


At Yorks and Humber Region’s ‘What’s New’ training event in York on Saturday, fifty tutors, staff and volunteers got together for some lively discussion about learning, equality and diversity and  social purpose education.


For more about the day take a look at Ann Walker’s blog: 


I led a workshop on ‘outstanding’ learning, where we aimed to arrive at a collective view of what outstanding teaching, learning and assessment looks like. The WEA wouldn’t be the WEA without some heated debate ……………………….so cue some heated debate!  What emerged is that WEA tutors are pretty good at knowing what inspiring learning looks like in the classroom. Here’s a summary of shared ideas:



An hour wasn’t enough to finish the picture. What would you add?


Tutors felt less certain about what outstanding lessons look like in our planning (course outline, scheme of work, lesson plans).   Does a plan make teaching less creative and responsive, less student centred?  Is the quality of a lesson evidenced in the planning – or what happens in the classroom?


Have a look at Lou Mycroft’s blog on   ‘Sharp Planning’ 


And now tell us what you think!


Sharon Watson


(Thanks to Ann Walker for sharing the links. If they don’t work when you click on them, copy and paste into your browser)