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Issue 15, November 2016

Supporting Learners

Book your place now!
Welcome to the latest Supporting Learners News. We've got more events coming up in 2017 with Supporting Learners events across England with more on other developments and new resources for union learning reps, including the Use-It tool below...

Unionlearn Learning and Skills Events

Featuring guest speakers, updates from unionlearn on workplace learning and examples from ULRs and unions on their work on Learning and Skills, ULRs, officers and reps are invited to get together for the day and exchange their experiences and ideas. Visit the unionlearn events page for more or click on the links below.

London Mon 16 January 2017 - with guest speaker Dr Mary Bousted, TUC President and ATL General Secretary
Liverpool Wed 15 February 2017

Two further dates will be confirmed soon.

With activities planned on union rep development and support, supporting learners, initial learner assessments, social media, online learning, health and well-being and more there’ll be something for all ULRs and reps on the programme.

Please book early to guarantee your place. This event is free to attend for all Union Reps and officers, and lunch will be provided. Unionlearn are not responsible for reimbursing any travel costs associated with your attendance on the day.

For more information and to register for one of these free events visit: 

Learning Rep - Winter 2016 Edition

In the latest edition of the Learning Rep e-magazine, we have the following: Apprenticeships partnership, Learning Rep of the Year, Building a learning legacy, Maths Workout Week, Growing through learning.

View or download the Winter Learning Rep here.

Learning Agreements

A learning agreement is simply a collective agreement between one or more recognised union(s) and an employer, which specifies how the parties will work together on learning issues and can cover things like facility time, joint committees, equality, addressing skills gaps and training.

They can have a very significant impact on unions’ capacity to deliver on the learning agenda, as well as on learner participation, and help to guide union learning activity, signal long-term commitment and, if well publicised, promote member engagement with that activity, helping to deliver greater results for the work put in.

Read about the new agreement GMB and UNISON have signed with Poole Council at

The Apprenticeships Toolkit is for union officers, union representatives and union learning reps who are negotiating with employers on apprenticeships or who are approaching an employer to discuss the possibility of taking on apprentices. 

The factsheets provide concise information on a range of topics related to apprenticeships.  They also highlight the key elements of a good quality apprenticeship.  For more information and to order a copy of the toolkit visit:

The new Apprenticeship Levy will begin in April 2017, employers with a wage bill of over £3m will have to contribute. Take a look at unionlearn's frequently asked questions page to find out more about how the levy will work: 

Union Learning Fund evaluation

Read the evaluation of rounds 15 and 16 of the Union Learning Fund on the unionlearn website.

Some of the key impacts identified are below:
  • Four in five employees said they had developed skills that they could transfer to a new job
  • Nearly two in three said the new skills they acquired made them more effective in their current job.
  • Over two-thirds of employers said unions were particularly effective at inspiring reluctant learners to engage in training and development.
  • Nearly half of employers highlighted that their staff were more committed as a result of unions facilitating training and development opportunities.
  • The evaluation also highlighted that ULF learning and training delivers an estimated net contribution to the economy of more than £1.4 billion as a result of a boost to jobs, wages and productivity.

Quick Reads for 2017

Out in February from The Reading Agency

Below are some ideas of how you can use Quick Reads with colleagues in your workplace:
  • Hold a reading break or start a reading group in your workplace or learning centre. You can create a buzz about reading that will encourage even the most reluctant readers to pick up a good book.
  • Set up a reading area at your organisation. You can provide a bookcase and a reading area if you have room. Use new books or ask people to donate their books.
  • Use Quick Reads as part of Reading Ahead, which challenges people to pick six reads and record their reading in a diary to get a certificate.
  • Hold a book swap by encouraging people to bring in books they have read and enjoyed to share with others. You ask people to write reviews or put stickers in the front of the books for people to write comments.

The union learning Climbing Frame Feedback Survey 2016

If you've not had your say yet in the 2016 Climbing Frame Feedback Survey now is the time, it takes just a few minutes to fill out -

The union learning Climbing Frame is the website for ULRs, and others that work with learners, to support them in their role.  Every year we carry out a Climbing Frame Feedback Survey to hear from site users and we are keen to find out what you like, what you don't like and any suggestions you have to help make the website more valuable to union reps.

Whether you are an experienced Climbing Frame user or are new to the website we really value your thoughts.

And if you haven't already registered to use the Climbing Frame visit: 

You can download the free Climbing Frame app from Google Play or the Apple Store

Five Free Steps to Better Maths

Useful tools for Union Learning Reps promoting Maths in their workplace, or brushing up their own skills.
Step 1:

Take an initial assessment at your leisure with Use-It - tick the box when registering to enter a prize draw for a Fitbit activity tracker when completing a maths assessment before Christmas.

Step 2:
Numeracy Challenge is an excellent online tool to explore maths further. Visit The National Numeracy website to dig a bit deeper into everyday maths and see where you can improve your skills.

Step 3:

When you are confident with Level 2 (equivalent to a GCSE A-C pass) maths the Citizen Maths course online is for you . This course is based on solving the kinds of maths problems that come up at work and in life.

Step 4:

Reps can improve their maths skills with the Working with Figures eNote. Visit for eNotes. The eNote is a self-contained short module that builds reps confidence about using calculations for union work.

Step 5:
Tell everyone about it in Twitter using #ulmathsworkout hashtag tagging @unionlearn or pop into the unionlearn Facebook page


Two new eNotes have arrived, on Language Support for Workers and Working with Figures.

The Language Support for Workers eNote focuses on ESOL to help reps plan, arrange & promote ESOL activities at work

The Working with Figures eNote will help reps feel more confident about using basic calculations for union work. Learners can work-out everyday calculations and answer simple maths questions using the on-screen calculator.

eNotes are a great resource to help union reps keep up to date on key workplace issues. Each eNote is a self-contained module that contains a mixture of text, video and quizzes. They last between 20 and 45 minutes and can be returned to as many times as you like. Register to use eNotes at

PEARL (Part time education for adults returning to learning)

The Open University as lead institution and supported by the Social Partnerships Network (SPN), have developed a new website and 6 free online courses for those looking to move up in their career, or considering a change of direction.

The free online courses can be accessed through unionlearn at
The six courses available are:
• Introducing practical healthcare
• Supporting children’s development
• Caring for adults
• Starting your small business
• Taking part in the voluntary sector
• Planning a better future
The PEARL website is aimed at adults (18 years and above) who are looking for part-time and flexible learning opportunities primarily across England. The site contains case studies and an ‘Advise Me’ tool, which gives personalised learning options to suit learner’s individual circumstances.

National Extension College

The National Extension College (NEC) launched a new course on 17th October 2016 for the Level 3 Award in Education and Training, accredited by TQUK. The Award is designed for everyone with responsibilities for delivering training in the workplace, training centre, college, or voluntary or community organisation. This replaces the popular course Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS).

This will ideally suit busy staff who want a more flexible course to develop their skills in training and team development – both in work and beyond. The course is also relevant for people with specialist or technical skills, who carry out teaching or training as part of their current or future role and want to try out learning online.

If you would like to learn more, watch this video of a chat between the lead course tutor, a former student and someone thinking of starting the course. Thanks to a long-standing agreement between NEC and unionlearn, trade unionists are entitled to a 10% discount on the cost of courses - let the NEC know on enrolment to organise this.

Union learning stories
Read some of the latest stories on the unionlearn website:

Changing attitudes to dementia through union learning
BSU’s Avinash gets the learning bug with Birkbeck
Michelle helps retail staff communicate with customers thanks to Usdaw

New stories are added all the time to the unionlearn website - and you can click on the button below to register as a site member too.
Register on the unionlearn website
Register on the TUC Education website
Register on the union learning Climbing Frame website

Stay connected with unionlearn

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