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Issue 16, January 2017

Supporting Learners

Welcome to the latest Supporting Learners News. We've added two more events for early 2017 with Supporting Learners dates in Hull and Newcastle to add to the others happening across England - book your place now!
There's much more in this edition for reps, including the Use-It tool, free steps to better maths, online courses and Apprenticeship Levy resources...

Unionlearn Supporting Learners Events

Two new dates added now - Hull (22 Feb) and Newcastle (7 Mar)......

Click on the event you want to attend to register on Eventbrite:
London Mon 16 January 2017 - with guest speaker Dr Mary Bousted, TUC President and ATL General Secretary

Hear from the TUC on the range of new services developed to support reps – the training available, the tools and resources reps can access and ways of working with other activists. All reps including shop stewards, health and safety reps and ULRs, new or experienced, will get a taste of what’s on offer from the TUC to help them as union representatives organising in the workplace.

There'll also be 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.

Choose from workshops:

Apprenticeships are union business
Progression routes for learners - What next? The learners have taken the initial assessments or maybe even their first training course so it is time to think of the next steps. Where will the learning journey take them next? This interactive workshop is about sharing and developing ideas and experiences of progression routes for learners in the workplace.
Supporting Mid-life Development - This workshop will showcase a number of new resources and publications to help you engage and support mid-life and older workers. It will also be an opportunity to experience a mini mid-life career review and share approaches and best practice.

Please book now to guarantee your place

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

Focus on literacy and language skills

Unionlearn is having an English skills campaign week from 30 January to 3 February. Last year we campaigned on maths and now it is time to tackle literacy and language.

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and promote English learning opportunities -  reading, writing, listening or speaking skills. We are not forgetting English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) either. The week is about engaging people to think about their English language and literacy skills and how to develop them further. It is not just about grammar and apostrophes although we are planning to set some fiendish literacy and ESOL quiz questions in Twitter for each day of the week. The campaign week will also highlight the launch of a new batch of Quick Reads

Unionlearn's website will feature blogs with interesting literacy and language angles on each day of the week. The Supporting Learners and other events will explore literacy and language skills development too during 2017 and everyone can check their English skills with a free Use-It online assessment For reps we recommend the Language Support for Workers eNote to explore what ESOL is and why it is a union issue: Reps can also consider ESOL questions by taking a look at the new videos designed to be used in training with migrant workers, trade unions and other organisations promoting good practice in industrial relations with migrant workers. See more here:

Follow all the campaign activity in Twitter and Facebook with hashtag #ulliteracyworks.

And if you want to know more about the campaign, contact Kirsi


The union learning Climbing Frame

The union learning Climbing Frame is the website for ULRs, and others that work with learners, to support them in their role. Register for free on the site to use the Climbing Frame ULR tool as well as accessing the mass of information, guides and resource links available to users on the site. Get signed up now at 

And 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 - - whether you are an experienced Climbing Frame user or are new to the website we value your opinions.

Also available as the free Climbing Frame app from Google Play or the Apple Store
Festival of Learning 2017

Previously Adult Learners' Week this is the biggest celebration of lifelong learning in England.

Festival of Learning celebrates the remarkable achievements of adults who have used learning to transform their lives, highlights how lifelong learning benefits society and the economy, and inspires others to discover the power of learning. Award nominations will be open from 1 February until 31 March.

Quick Reads for 2017

Out in February from The Reading Agency

Here's some ideas for using Quick Reads with workplace colleagues:
  • Hold a reading break or start a reading group in your workplace or learning centre.
  • 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. Share reviews or have stickers in the front of the books for people to write comments.

#heartunions is back for 2017

Starting 7 February 2017 - for more on ways for reps and learning centres to get involved visit the unionlearn website here.

Five Free Steps to Better Maths

Useful online tools for union reps promoting Maths in their workplace, or brushing up their own skills.
Take an initial assessment at your leisure with Use-It

2: Dig a bit deeper into everyday maths and see where you can improve your skills. Take the Numeracy Challenge
3: Confident with Level 2 maths? The Citizen Maths course helps you solve the kinds of maths problems that come up at work and in life.
4: The Working with Figures eNote teaches you to use calculations for union work. Visit for eNotes.
5: Use #ulmathsworkout @unionlearn to tell everyone how you are doing, or post your successes on

eNotes - the latest additions

Religion or Belief  introduces issues around religion or belief that workplace reps need to be aware of. This eNote was developed in partnership with the EHRC and helps union reps recognise the types of religion or belief issues that may arise in the workplace. With worked examples and case studies, this new resource will be key for all reps.

Working with Figures 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. As recommended by Alan Johnson MP! More on that here.

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

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.
New Workplace Manual for union reps

Newly revised by the TUC to include recent legal changes in employment law and employee rights. It will be of use not only to stewards but also to anyone who represents, advises or supports members, including learning, equality, and health and safety representatives. Every rep will find the TUC Workplace Manual invaluable, and every rep will appreciate the wealth of practical advice and knowledge in this book.

Order a copy from the TUC online shop.


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 new Apprenticeship Levy will begin in April 2017, employers with a wage bill of over £3m will have to contribute. See unionlearn's Apprenticeship Levy - 15 useful negotiating tips and take a look at unionlearn's frequently asked questions page to find out more about how the levy will work:

Decent Work in Global Supply Chains - a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

What are the challenges and opportunities for achieving decent work in global supply chains? How do transnational corporations and their global supply chains operate? How can they be more effectively governed?

When? The course starts on 12 January 2017 and runs over 8 weeks. Workload: 3-4 hrs/week
Where? Worldwide, only an internet connection is required
For whom? Trade unionists and everybody interested in decent work in global supply chains
Costs? The course is free of charge in the audit track, and costs 49 € in the certificate track
Enrol at

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

POA Learning at HMP Dartmoor look forward to a busy 2017
Unionlearn offers to make 2017 a great year for learning
UNISON aims to Inspire staff with new West Norfolk resource centre
Latest Policy Update explores evaluation of the Union Learning Fund

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

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