WEA is seeking an experienced and qualified finance professional to join the Board and contribute to the continued success and growth of the largest charitable provider of adult education in England and Scotland.
Founded in 1903, the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) is a charity dedicated to bringing high-quality, professional education into the heart of communities in England and Scotland. Last year, WEA provided courses to nearly 30,000 students, with the support of 2,000 volunteers, 900 tutors, and over 6,000 members. Our mission is to bring adult education within reach of everyone who needs it and to achieve this we partner with 102 community-based venues and local networks.
WEA is led by a General Secretary, who also acts as the Chief Executive of the Association, supported by a senior management team, and reporting to the Trustee body, made up of:
Each trustee is expected to be an active and contributing member, supporting the collective duty of the Board to set the strategic direction of WEA, and ensure compliance in all areas of legislation, policy and procedure. Trusteeship is a position of public trust, and therefore, each trustee of WEA is expected to utilise their personal skills, experience, and knowledge to help lead WEA in the delivery of its charitable objectives and fulfilment of its mission, vision, and values.
As the largest charitable provider of adult education in England and Scotland, WEA is seeking to appoint a qualified finance professional to join the Board as an external co-opted trustee and provide independent, robust challenge to the Board and its committees. Working as part of a collaborative Board, and alongside the WEA’s elected Treasurer and the executive leadership team, the specialist finance trustee will provide independent support and robust challenge on the financial performance of the organisation and will have the opportunity to either join the Finance Committee or Audit and Risk Committee.
The WEA must be compliant with Charity Commission regulations – for example, ensuring that the WEA’s use of funding and resources meets the charity’s objectives – as well as meeting the contractual obligations of various funding providers across the regions. To ensure the Board feels confident about meeting its governance obligations to provide scrutiny, challenge and the best practice around financial management, the appointment of a qualified finance professional with the right level of expertise, insight, and interest will be essential.
Trustees are expected to attend all Board meetings and asked to join at least one sub-committee. The time commitment is about 1-2 days per month and the term of office is four years, renewable for one further term of four years. WEA provides a programme of induction and training to all trustees and offers targeted support to those taking up their first trustee role.
WEA is seeking to appoint an experienced finance professional, ideally with a recognised qualification in accountancy or audit, to join the Board of trustees. Candidates should be able to demonstrate their ability to operate at a strategic level and demonstrate the principles of good governance. The Board is keen to attract those who are familiar with charitable governance and financial regulation, and it would be helpful if candidates have experience of operating within complex environments, with a national scope and multiple funding or revenue streams.
Candidates should be willing to contribute their expertise to support the business of the Board, demonstrating strong interpersonal and networking skills and sound judgement. It is essential that candidates demonstrate an understanding and alignment to the values and charitable objectives of the organisation and can work effectively as part of a wider team, which includes diverse staff and stakeholders from the executive leadership team to independent members, elected representatives and members from across the wider WEA communities.
Candidates must be able to commit the time required to fulfil the duties of a trustee, be willing to undertake a DBS disclosure, and be committed to the promotion of equal opportunities and championing diversity.
I can’t imagine a time when the WEA could be more needed than today as the UK adjusts to living with Covid-19 and recovers from the economic and social impact of lockdowns and the war in Ukraine. The need for adult learning which is within reach, within every community couldn’t be greater.
We are here for those adults to develop skills for life, skills for jobs and skills to cope with social isolation and improve physical and mental health. We want to give everyone opportunity, and make sure no one is left behind.
To do this, we need to be agile, responsive and imaginative in the way we use the funds entrusted to us. The WEA receives and manages substantial public and charitable funding, from newly devolved combined authorities, from central government and via a range of other sources. We expect the diversity of these income sources to grow in future years.
Our Board and professional executive team need a financially qualified Trustee to guide the Association in embracing change, increasing its agility and ensuring its sustainability.
We know that the priorities of our funders are changing. The UK Government is committed to lifelong learning and investing in education, but its focus is significantly on higher level skills for jobs, almost to the exclusion of anything else. Devolved authorities and the Scottish Government are also focussing in this area. We know we need to deliver against these priorities and continue to build on our track record of success.
We also know we need to seek and secure funding for the important courses we deliver which fall outside of those priorities. For example, the critical role of more basic skills training, or the role other subjects play in building confidence, supporting mental health and enticing adults back into education, is not well understood and funding is challenging to secure.
To respond effectively, we need to ensure we provide value for money, making every penny go as far as we can, so that as many students as possible benefit from the life-changing learning we provide.
The good news is our century of history provides a solid base of proven principles and values, which will allow us to adapt and change as the world around us changes. In 2020, when the impact of the pandemic was first felt, we fast-tracked the conversion of the classroom teaching so valued by our learners to online delivery. Over 6000 courses were delivered online from a standing start and our membership actually increased. In 2021, we committed to a digital transformation, replacing legacy systems and focussing on improving our student experience. We believe we are well placed to deal with the further challenges to come.
The opportunities are endless, and the need for what we offer even greater. An exciting future lies ahead. To ensure our success, we need to have the right skills on our Board to provide the advice and guidance we need to ensure good management of the resources entrusted to us, better opportunities for the communities we serve, and the best experience for the individuals who trust us with their futures.
If you have accountancy or financial management qualifications and the business acumen to guide us as we develop, change and embrace the future, we would welcome your application.
I am proud to serve on the Board of the WEA and equally proud of the passion, expertise and dedication of our staff and the achievements of our learners. I hope you will decide to apply to join us. The tasks we face as a Board will be challenging, occasionally frustrating, but ultimately rewarding as we work together to change the lives of thousands of people every year.
John Widdowson CBE
Chair of the Board of Trustees
The WEA is a leading adult education charity. We empower adults by bringing great teaching to local communities in England and Scotland.
Our mission is to bring adult education to everyone who needs it, fighting inequality and promoting social justice.
We do this by working closely with communities, to understand and respond to their needs. We provide a unique, supportive, tailored learning experience for our students, responsive to their needs and interests.
A critical part of this experience are our expert professional tutors, who make this possible. We ensure study groups are small, allowing our tutors to tailor the way they teach learner and engage with each group – be that face-to-face online or in venue.
The small group environment also encourages learner-to-learner support, discussion and debate – essential to developing and embedding understanding. Often our tutor groups also become friends for life! A real added bonus.
In the last academic year, we reached nearly 30,000 students across England and Scotland with over 7,000 courses, delivered by nearly 1,000 tutors.
We work with over 1,000 community partners across the UK, to reach those who need us most, and over 1,000 volunteers support our teaching – often former students.
We also served over 6,000 members, who pay £15 a year to keep connected with us, enjoying weekly online lectures, connect calls, regular email contact and a magazine among other member benefits.
With millions unemployed, and areas of the country still host to significant deprivation, there are many more who need the WEA’s support. The CBI predicts the UK will have a shortfall in employability skills – from digital skills, to communication skills – which needs to be met.
We help learners make those first steps toward employment, or to escape the gig economy. We deliver courses which provide basic skills for work, to sector specific requirements, support job search and recruitment, and connect students directly with recruiting employers where we can.
For others, WEA study is about so much more than work. It’s about escaping isolation, inspiring passions and a joy of life, to building self-confidence and aspiration. To find out more about our impact, in student stories and statistics, read our Creating Opportunities Mission at https://www.wea.org.uk/about-us/creating-opportunities
There is much talk of lifelong learning and the levelling up of opportunity in UK Government rhetoric, but the focus appears to concentrate on young adults and higher technical skills (A level and beyond).
We know that many people leave school with no or low qualifications, so the WEA chooses to focus on delivering solutions for these students and to campaign for unaccredited or level one or two learning to be funded by Government. Why not read our manifesto at www.wea.org.uk/about-us/our-voice/manifesto
Here at WEA, we are passionate about giving our students an excellent learning experience and supporting them to make the most out of their life. One student who exemplifies this is Debbie.
Debbie joined us for an Include IT course with a WEA project in Merseyside. Her confidence in using computers was low and at times this made her feel down. She wanted to develop her skills so she could find a job as she needed to increase her income following the loss of her husband two years earlier.
“Not being able to manage the basics on a computer or tablet was getting embarrassing and limiting my life and work. I wanted to connect with others like me and develop my skills in a non-judgemental and friendly environment which is what the WEA was offering.
I gained so much confidence. At the time I was job-hunting. I needed to create a CV and cover letters and search and apply online. Digital job-hunting was daunting. My tutor helped me with every step. I then had to tackle virtual interviews. My tutor was great preparing me for interviews online and face-to-face.
The WEA course provided the spark I needed to open a new chapter in my life. I’m delighted to tell you that I’ve been successful in securing a job in a local school, which is perfect to fit in with my caring responsibilities. My aim is to become a teaching assistant. I wouldn’t have this momentum without the WEA. I’m ready to move on and live again.”
For over 100 years, WEA has worked to redress inequality and challenge discrimination on the grounds of social class, race, disability, gender, age, faith/religious belief, and sexual orientation.
Through our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2025, we have a renewed commitment to ensuring equality of opportunity and positive promotion of equality and diversity through our educational provision, our employment practices and in the democracy and governance of the WEA.
Our EDI action plan shows how we are trying to improve our practice at all levels of the WEA; nationally, regionally, locally. We will measure its impact and seek feedback on our activities and consult with our students, volunteers, staff, members and partners on how we are doing.
We have a network of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion champions who work across the WEA to promote our work, share good practice and support staff, tutors and volunteers.
WEA has made reasonable adjustments in the form of physical adjustments (amended DSE equipment), changing working hours and/or patterns, and providing support or training.
The WEA has maintained a 0% median gender pay gap for the fourth year in a row. We have also brought our mean pay gap down from 3.5% last year to 1.27% this year.
Our systems are currently under review to identify how and what EDI data we will collect and consider how that data may shape future working practices.
WEA are Investors in Diversity, currently undergoing accreditation review and we are a Disability Confident Employer.
Reasonable adjustments are considered at all stages of the recruitment and onboarding process. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) is a key part of the WEA’s strategy and a central part of everything we do. We have policies and procedures in place to ensure that all applicants are treated fairly and consistently at every stage of the recruitment process, including the consideration of reasonable adjustments for people who have a disability and/or who are neuro-divergent.
If you have any further needs around accessibility, please get in touch with the advising consultant for a confidential chat on how we can best fulfil your needs.
To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.
Please ensure that your application is emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org inserting “WEA – Trustee (Finance)” into the subject field.
For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners
Sophie Carney | email@example.com| 07399 528307
Liz Holderness | firstname.lastname@example.org | 07872 031079
We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief.
All applications will be considered solely on merit.
Disabled applicants are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the role, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.
Closing date: Monday 27th June 2022
Interviews: Friday 8th July 2022
Peridot and WEA are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We would therefore be most grateful if you would complete this equality monitoring survey.
The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practice. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the new Data Protection Act 2018 launched on 25 May 2018.
The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.