Inform, support and inspire learners in the workplace

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Issue 4, January 2015


Welcome to the Supporting Learners Newsletter from unionlearn.  This electronic publication has been produced to keep you up to date with news, developments and resources that will help support learners in the workplace.

New ESOL tool for union reps

Unionlearn together with the British Council’s Nexus project and unions’ support have produced an interactive ESOL module for union reps. ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages and it refers to the language learning needs of people whose first language is not English.

ESOL: Language for life and work works as a self-study module for workplace reps and union learning reps (ULRs). The module aims to help union reps think about how to build ESOL awareness and develop learning opportunities with useful information resource and activities, including videos and case studies.  ESOL learning does not only have to happen in a class-room which is why this workbook endeavours to help ULRs to think of different approaches, such as online, conversation clubs or community based courses.

ESOL: Language for life and work builds reps’ knowledge and skills to provide learner support by;

  • understanding the needs of ESOL learners in the workplace
  • setting up provision in or close to the workplace
  • providing active learning support for staff.
UNISON, Usdaw and BFAWU have been actively taking part in developing ESOL: Language for life and work materials with the British Council and unionlearn.

Unions launch careers advice campaign for young people

The Trades Union Congress (TUC), UNISON and the National Union of Students (NUS) held a parliamentary event on the 7th of January 2015 to highlight their research into the significant changes that have been made to careers information, advice and guidance service.  The research provides evidence that improvements need to be made to ensure that young people have access to excellent careers information, advice and guidance.

At the event a campaign was launched outlining 10 key changes that need to be made to deliver a universal careers service that properly meets the needs of young people.  The need for a face-to-face service was raised a number of times, TUC Assistant General Secretary, Paul Nowak  said "Of course online information is important, but when you're talking about people's careers, people's working lives you need to give them more support than just a hyperlink - and we think there needs to be that frontline, face-to-face advice."

For more information about the event and this area of work visit the unionlearn website.


Images above and below the article were taken at the parliamentary event by Jess Hurd

Climbing Frame 2015 Feedback Survey

We are launching a new 2015 Climbing Frame Survey to find out what you think of the union learning Climbing Frame website. We want to know: what you like, what you don’t like, what you would like to see added to the site and how you have been using the Climbing Frame with learners.

Whether you are an experienced Climbing Frame user or are new to the Climbing Frame we really value your opinion and want to know what you think.  From the feedback that we receive each year from the Climbing Frame Surveys we make changes to the features and the content of the website to help make it even more useful for reps.

Please complete the survey by the 30th of April 2015 for your chance to be entered into a prize draw to win a Kindle! One lucky winner will be randomly selected and contacted by email.  Access the survey via the link below: 


Learning Rep Spring 2015

Don’t miss the Spring 2015 edition of the Learning Rep e-magazine.  In this issue you can find out about the inspirational ULR of the Year 2014 - Monika Paczkowska, hear about the National Numeracy Challenge and get information about the recently launched TUC Education eNotes. There are a number of useful learning resources mentioned along with interesting learning stories from a variety of unions.

New unionlearn website launched

The new unionlearn website has now gone live.  A key aim was to make the site more accessible for visitors using smartphones, tablets and widescreens. This has been achieved with a new responsive design that automatically adjusts to the screen size of the device being used.  Other things to look out for with the new website include the improved speed of the site, a new blog facility that allows written, audio and video blogs to be added, a new comments function enabling visitors to share their thoughts on pages and overall easier navigation. 

Tackling Disadvantage

Unionlearn have produced a new report 'Tackling Disadvantage' which sets out to show the impact of unionlearn in widening opportunities to take up learning and skills by tackling disadvantage, identifying and removing barriers and implementing effective strategies. 

The report looks at barriers to learning and disadvantages created by them, specific methods and techniques which make union learning a unique success, looks at conclusions which can be drawn and what more must be done.


Quality Award changes drive up standards

The unionlearn Quality Award is given to providers which meet standards of support for union learning such as delivery in workplaces and being responsive to learners’ needs. Over 100 providers across the country have now achieved the Quality Award.

Three versions of the Quality Award have been developed, these cover:

1) Courses
2) Careers information and advice services
3) Apprenticeship programmes.

Recently the Quality Award was updated to refresh the good practice criteria and simplify the assessment process. The streamlined Award makes the assessment process simpler, ensuring the criteria remains current, whilst maintaining the integrity and rigour of the standard. The changes have included a revamped Quality Award for employers that demonstrate high quality delivery of their Apprenticeship programmes.

Further information about the Quality Award can be found on the unionlearn website: 


New Excellence Gateway

A new Excellence Gateway website will go live on the 1st of February 2015.  It will be significantly different from the current site as there will be no webpages, resources will be accessed through a search facility and it will essentially be a library of useful learning and skills resources. 

Information and resources are currently being migrated from legacy sites such as Move on, Readwriteplus and the Teaching and Learning Zone, all of which will no longer be accessible after March 2015.  Check out the Education and Training Foundation's new Excellence Gateway coming soon. 

Find your career direction

The National Careers Service recently launched a career direction campaign to show how the National Careers Service website can help people whatever their situation and circumstances are.  The campaign gives ideas for example if you are looking to move up the career ladder, if you have been made redundant or are considering a change due to a stage in your life.  Suggested journeys highlight some of the main tools and guides on the website such as the CV Builder, the job market information and the job search advice.  A range of job roles are featured to get people thinking about possible career ideas.  The marketing campaign is running up until the end of March 2015.


Midlands ULR Forums are taking place in:
Birmingham: 27 January 2015
: 28 January 2015

Supporting Mid-life Development and the Climbing Frame Bite-Size Briefings, London: 26 February and 26 March 2015, a.m and p.m sessions, for more information please email:

If you have any events you would like to promote in future issues of Supporting Learners News and/or on the union learning Climbing Frame website please email Louisa Smith:

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