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Issue 17, March 2017

Supporting Learners

Welcome to the latest Supporting Learners News. Unionlearn's annual conference will soon be coming around once again and you can book your place now for July's event.

Also featured in this edition is the brand new Union Reps 1 online course, an invite to give us your views on union learning in our survey, new Apprenticehips resources available - including an Apprentices Know Your Rights eNote - and much more.
Unionlearn Annual Conference 2017

The unionlearn Annual Conference 2017 is taking place on Monday 3rd of July at Congress House in London. The conference is entitled "Apprenticeships are Union Business" showcasing all the achievements over the past year, including ULR awards. Speakers at the event include TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills RT Hon Robert Halfon MP and Mike Brown, The Commissioner of Transport for London.

The event will hear from inspirational Union Learning Reps, will feature uplifting videos and will provide lots of opportunity for networking with a variety of exhibition stands and workshops.

To register to attend this free event visit:

2017 Union learning survey now open

Have your say in our union learning survey. Are you supporting learning at work? Have you helped workplace apprentices? Has your learning centre provided training?
If you've been involved as a union learning rep or union rep in supporting learning and skills we'd like to hear from you - for more information on the short online survey visit the unionlearn website here.

The survey is open until Friday 31st March. Click the button below to give us your views.

Complete the 2017 Survey

Supporting Learners Events Spring 2017

The magnificent seven events concluded in Penrith this month, having roamed England from Plymouth to Newcastle to work with union learning reps. If you came along to an event and would like to give us your views please do so on Survey Monkey here.

You can see photos from the events on unionlearn's facebook page and look out for a unionlearn blog about the events at soon.

And to make sure you get your invite to future unionlearn events don't forget to register on the unionlearn Climbing Frame or website.

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 

Also available is the free Climbing Frame app from Google Play or the Apple Store


New pocket guide out Apprenticeship Levy: 15 useful negotiating tips (PDF) - order your copies from TUC publications.

Apprenticeships Toolkit coverUnionlearn's new Apprenticeships Toolkit for union officers, union representatives and union learning reps is also available:

Visit the unionlearn website for news from National Apprenticeship Week 2017 including stories of Unite & UNISON's agreement at Bristol Waste and PCS
and apprenticeships in the civil service.

All the fun of the Fair as union stall goes with a Bang

big bang 2017Unionlearn and Unite joined forces to run a stall at this year’s Big Bang Fair in Birmingham. The Fair is a celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people in the UK and ran from 14th – 18th March.

Unionlearn's Mark Rowe and Unite the Union's Yvonne McGlinchey took to the stage at the Big Bang to discuss the questions apprentices need to ask and the stall was full of information and advice that was snapped up by young people at the event. Project Officer Mark Rowe said; “The young people loved our employment rights leaflets, apprenticeship info and women into engineering and science materials.”

#Budget2017: Boost for technical skills funding

Iain Murray
, Senior Policy Officer responsible for policy on education and skills, discusses the budget and the package of skills measures it contained, on the TUC's Touchstone website
Festival of Learning 2017

Previously Adult Learners' Week this is the biggest celebration of lifelong learning in England. Read more about the Awards on the unionlearn website here.

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 open now until 31 March:

Festival of Learning is an England-only campaign. If you're in Wales, find out about Wales' Adult Learners' Week (19-25 June) and Festival of Learning here
Union Reps 1 Online

TUC Education's new Union Reps Stage 1 online is an essential course for workplace union reps and stewards

Find out what it means to be a union rep, how to represent your members effectively and how to take up both collective and individual issues with your employer. You will also think about the future, how to influence and those you represent.

The course is interactive, exciting and full of useful information and tips. It contains quizzes, videos and key action points to help you be a great union rep. It is for new and experienced reps or as a resource to compliment your classroom course.

It is self-study and you can access the course from a mobile, tablet or PC at a time and place that suits you, and as many times as you like.

Available now at - go to the course directory and scroll down to sign up to the course.

See details of all other TUC Education courses for union reps in the course directory too.

English and maths News

The functional skills reform programme has been going on for some time now and it has now been confirmed by the Department for Education (DfE) that the new functional skills content and standards will be introduced in 2019. The Government has confirmed that ministers support the reform and want to take time to consider the recommendations made and explore how they fit into the wider post-16 skills landscape.

DfE will be launching a further public consultation on the literacy and numeracy subject content in the coming months. Unionlearn will be in touch with unions to make sure they have an opportunity to share their views.

Ofqual has launched a new set of films to raise awareness and understanding of the new 9-1 GCSE grading scale. In the new system 9 is the best grade instead of A*. To kick off the new grading system English language, English literature and maths will be in the first six to be graded from 9 to 1 in 2017.

Unionlearn’s Use-It initial assessment is a handy FREE online tool to find out where your English and maths skills are!

eNotes - the latest additions

Apprenticeships - Know Your Rights  Are you interested in earning as you learn, or do you know someone who is? An apprenticeship could be the answer. Find out what they are and how to get the most out of one with this short guide. This eNote will help you find out what kind of apprenticeships are available to you, learn what you can expect to terms of pay, training and support and spot the high quality apprenticeships that are a best fit for you.

Citizen Maths  Citizen Maths is a free online course for adults. It's a new way of learning maths based on solving the kinds of problems that come up in work and life. The eNote looks at the benefits of doing the course, explores a sample topic to give you a guide to what the course is like and explains who the course is suitable for

Cancer in the Workplace Produced in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, this eNote raises awareness of the impact of cancer in the workplace and how union reps can support members affected by cancer 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

Disabled apprentices – forthcoming guide for union representatives

Unionlearn and the TUC are currently drafting a new guide aimed at boosting the support that union representatives, including union learning representatives, can provide to help more disabled people access high quality apprenticeships. Read more about the planned guide here.

We would really like to include in the guide examples where union reps or officers have been engaged in supporting disabled people to access and complete an apprenticeship or any relevant pre-apprenticeship programmes. If you think that you have any information that would be of help, please contact Iain Murray at unionlearn (

IF Project

The IF project is recruiting for it's next free degree-level arts and humanities course: Thinking Without Borders: A Short History of the Present. The course is taking place in central London venues on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6.30 - 8.00, April 20 to June 29 2017 and will explore contemporary concerns such as truth and lies, power and freedom, nations and rights, and culture and identity as seen from the perspective of writers, historians, philosophers and artists.

More details at 

Union learning stories
Read the latest stories and case studies on the unionlearn website:

Union learning gave me the confidence to speak up
Apprenticeships in the spotlight at Hull event
FBU’s Jane graduates thanks to the union
Community supports Tata Steel workers forge new skills

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

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