Our History

Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales came into being following our re-naming from the former WEA YMCA CC Cymru on 5th November 2016.

The organisation comes as a result of mergers between Coleg Harlech and WEA North Wales with WEA South Wales to form WEA Cymru, and the subsequent merger between WEA Cymru and YMCA Wales Community College.

- WEA Cymru

WEA Cymru was created in January 2014 through the coming together of WEA South Wales and Coleg Harlech WEA (North Wales).

The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) began in Wales in 1907, four years after the WEA in England. Founded by Albert Mansbridge in 1903, the Association was created as an alliance between labour (working classes) and learning (universities).

The WEA's ideological roots are shared with a clutch of 19th century initiatives, such as the mechanics institute, the co-operative movement and popular public lectures on science, all created to encourage and support the desire by working people for further learning throughout their lives.

- Coleg Harlech

Coleg Harlech opened in 1927 to provide an opportunity for sustained study for those that did not wish to proceed to higher education but return to their former occupations.

It is attributed with having changed the lives of thousands of people whilst giving Britain, and Wales in particular, committed social workers, teachers, politicians, trade union officials and social entrepreneurs who worked to raise ideals and aspirations.

Throughout their shared history in Wales, WEA and Coleg Harlech stories have been intertwined where they have had a common ethos based on values of democracy and social justice.

- YMCA Wales Community College

YMCA is one of the oldest and largest movements for youth in the world. Founded in 1844, it now operates in 119 countries and reaches 58 million people. YMCA works to bring social justice and peace to young people and their communities, regardless of religion, race, gender or culture.

YMCA Wales Community College Limited was established in 1993 as a department of the National Council of YMCAs in Wales. Designated status was transferred from the National Council to create a completely autonomous institution in 2004 under the Further and Higher Education Act of 1992.

WEA Cymru, its predecessor institutions and YMCA Wales Community College Limited have made distinguished contributions to the education of adults in Wales for many years.

The newly named organisation now continues this work under its new name: Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales.


Since its establishment in 2015, Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales has firmly established itself as the National Community College, serving the adult population of Wales with inspirational, life-changing learning opportunities. 

Drawing on our strong partnerships, our vision sees us at the forefront for growth in lifelong learning, prioritising opportunities for those who are hardest to reach, empowering and upskilling people and delivering equal access to Welsh medium provision. We are committed to supporting health and wellbeing initiatives, developing strong resilient communities and promoting active democracy.

Change to our membership sees great improvements in meeting our strategic aims as a National Community College and democratic Movement to empower our supporters to inspire learning opportunities throughout communities in Wales. It is an area which we are determined to nurture and develop to strengthen our future and widen our reach to more learners, particularly those who are disadvantaged.

Alongside this, we are working within a continually challenging economic environment, where reliance on public funding alone is unsustainable. The labour market is changing fast in Wales and there is a need for people to learn new skills,particularly those associated with digital technologies. The landscape requires us to work collaboratively and demonstrate intelligent business efficiency in order to expand our reach and promote the value of adult community learning. Enabling the working poor to upskill is our passion and priority, as well as helping to tackle broader poverty issues, such as unemployment and homelessness.

It is crucial to nurture the skill of learning over a lifetime to secure informed, flexible, intelligent and healthy workforces and communities. The economic, social and civic advantages of developing a truly lifelong learning society in Wales will be profound; giving us the cutting edge that we need for our communities to be resilient, for our economy to adapt to changing circumstances and for our democracy to thrive.

We are confident in our capacity and capability to respond effectively to these challenges. 

John Graystone, Council Chair

Kathryn Robson, Chief Executive

Our Vision:

Increasing the social, economic and personal impact of adult community learning in Wales through co-ordination and development of national, regional and local partnerships; delivering equal access to Welsh medium provision.

Our Mission:

Providing inspiring learning opportunities for adults in communities and workplaces throughout Wales; prioritising learning opportunities for those who are hardest to reach. Empowering people to develop skills and knowledge to realise their full potential.

Our Purpose:

To provide accessible learning opportunities for adults everywhere in Wales to develop as:
• Ambitious and informed learners, ready to learn throughout their lives and to play a full part in life and work, in Wales and the world
• Healthy and confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued citizens of society.

Our Core Priorities:

• Ensure highest standards of quality are achieved and maintained in everything we do
• Provide a clear and varied bilingual curriculum that supports equity, equality and social justice with pathways for progression for all adults wherever they are based in Wales
• Encourage creative and innovative teaching and learning to maximise engagement, progression, confidence and social values
• Be a great place to work as an employer of choice
• Ensure financial sustainability in all our activities.

Our Network Launch Event - Overview
27.04.17- Neuadd, Senedd Bulding, Cardiff
Sponsored by Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies AM

Our Network Launch Event - Kathryn Robson, our Chief Executive
27.04.17- Neuadd, Senedd Bulding, Cardiff
Sponsored by Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies AM

Our Network Launch Event - John Graystone, our Chair of Council
27.04.17- Neuadd, Senedd Bulding, Cardiff
Sponsored by Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies AM 

Our Network Launch Event - Special Guest Speaker Alun Davies, AM
27.04.17- Neuadd, Senedd Bulding, Cardiff
Sponsored by Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies AM