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Connecting Learners in the 3rd Sector in North & Mid Wales A Unison Cymru/Wales WULF Project 2010-2013

in the 3rd Sector in North & Mid Wales

WULF Best Practice Guideline: Developing Partnership Agreements with Learning Providers

The Connecting Learners WULF Projects have developed close working relationship with a number of adult education providers, including those from the public, private and third sectors. In 2012, we set out to create a Partnership Agreement with our biggest learning provider, Coleg Harlech WEA (N). This Best Practice Guideline sets out the reasons why WULF projects might look into creating a Partnership Agreement with a provider, what might be included in the Partnership Agreement and then how best that agreement may be drawn up, including a handy guide to the tools you might want to consider using.

Connecting Learners in the 3rd Sector in North & Mid Wales A Unison Cymru/Wales WULF Project 2010-2013

1. Why create a Partnership Agreement? As social entrepreneur Brenda Herchmer recently wrote, “partnerships are about people pulling together in the right direction”1, and partnership is at the centre of the Welsh Government’s vision for how WULF projects will deliver lifelong learning in the workplace and progress learners onto Essential Skills and other, more formal learning opportunities.

“Support and foster effective partnership activity between employers, other trades unions, essential skills learning providers, Sector Skills Councils and community based organisations to encourage more people into learning” WULF’s specific objectives, Wales Union Learning Fund Prospectus 2013-2016

In WULF projects we build formal and informal partnerships every day through our close personal working interactions with employers, learners, ULRs, other union reps and colleagues within learning providers. These partnerships often change, evolve and deepen over the lifetime of the project and sometimes we need to formalise our ways of working.

So you may wish to create a Partnership Agreement in order to:        


Create a clearer understanding of each partner’s needs Set out formal procedures for communication, organising courses, registering learners, evaluating outcomes and accrediting learning Promote progression routes onto further learning Gain access the provider’s existing network of employers, learners and other stakeholders Achieve better value for money through economies of scale Formalise cost structures and payment methods Allow for accreditation of learning delivered by smaller providers Ensure sustainability of the project’s work and reduce the risks associated with absence of key project or provider staff

Brenda Herchmer, ‘Leadership: For Active Creative Engaged Communities’, (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2012) p. 222

Connecting Learners in the 3rd Sector in North & Mid Wales A Unison Cymru/Wales WULF Project 2010-2013

2. What is a Partnership Agreement? Everyone will have their own ideas about what exactly a Partnership Agreement may entail, and the content should always be driven by the partners involved. Nevertheless, here are a few simple guidelines about what we think a Partnership Agreement is: A single document with clear sections plus relevant annexes, including workflows and quality requirements A “live” electronic reference document open to all parties

Suggested Headings: 1. Background & Guiding Principles Outlines the parties and their principles 2. Why do we need this agreement? Briefly states the need for the Agreement 3. What do we hope to achieve?

Designed to help to develop and deepen existing informal Partnerships A means to ensure consistency and build trust between WULF projects and providers

A short “mission statement” 4. Partnership Objectives The means of collaboration by which the Partnership will help to meet the Project’s Objectives 5. Specific Targets This section sets out specific targets for the provider and links them to the WULF Targets 6. Eligibility, Priority & Scope

An opportunity to offer accreditation for all WULF learning Not a contract or a legally enforceable document

The sectors and learners fall under the project 7. Responsibilities States clearly the responsibilities of each party in fulfilling the Partnership Objectives & Targets 8. Prices and payment The rates agreed for teaching & accreditation 9. Processes & Procedures

Signed at a high level to ensure oversight, corporate by-in and overall accountability

Outline how the partnership will work day-to-day 10. Contacts & Signatures At least 2 contacts from each party, just in case! 11. List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

Connecting Learners in the 3rd Sector in North & Mid Wales A Unison Cymru/Wales WULF Project 2010-2013

3. How to create a Partnership Agreement? The process of creating a Partnership Agreement is a human one and can itself be as valuable to the development of the partnership as the final document itself. The parties involved can gain a greater understanding of the nuances of each other’s field of work. Reflecting on our experience has brought to light the following simple guidelines on the methodology involved: 1. Establish clear common reasons for the partnership 2. Sit down together to agree the required content and structure 3. Using collaborative tools such as Google Docs to make the process as efficient and transparent as possible 4. Set a deadline for completion and try to stick to it. 5. Aim to get corporate buy-in from both the union and provider sides. The process can also mean learning new working methods, especially the use of collaborative online tools. Here are some that might help: What’s it called?

What does it do?

How much does it cost?

What’s needed to make it work?

Google Drive

Lets you create or upload documents and work on them with others in real time from any computer


Lets you make free video and voice calls, and send messages and files, to anyone around the world with a Skpye account. Allows you to video conference & chat with up to 10 users, share your screen, documents & more. Lets you create flow charts collaboratively. It’s great for describing processes, relationships and workflows

Basic version is free

A device with an internet connection which allows access to google, plus a google or gmail account. A webcam and the ability to download and install new programs onto your computer or tablet. A webcam, a fast, open internet connection and google account with Google+ set up Works best when integrated with Google Drive. Requires a fast, open internet connection. A computer with a fast, open internet connection. Collaborating with Prezi needs a computer with a fast, open internet connection.


Google+ Hangouts




Lets you create spider diagrams and mind maps collaboratively An online zooming presentation tool that can also be used to create mind maps collaboratively, drawing in multimedia content too.


Free, but limits you to 50 “stages” in your flow. You can pay for more features Free basic version with paid for features A basic, public version is free. Enhanced licences start from $59 p/a

Connecting Learners in the 3rd Sector in North & Mid Wales A Unison Cymru/Wales WULF Project 2010-2013

Finally, here’s a step-by-step guide to how Connecting Learners in the 3rd Sector in North & Mid Wales and Coleg Harlech WEA (North Wales) created their Partnership Agreement during 2012.

Step 1: Sign-up

Step 2: Drive ahead

Step 3: Share & Prepare

Step 4: Get writing

• Create a Google Account for your project if you've not already got one. • Ensure the provider has a Google Account too.

• Log into Google Drive • Create a new document in Google Drive using the red "Create" button and give the document a name by clicking on the words "Untitled Document"

• Share the document with colleagues at the provider using the blue "Share" button, and add them by entering their google email addresses. • Locate, upload to Google Docs and share any supporting documents, such as your Project Outline Document, and other relevant information as appropriate.

•Start writing the by sitting down with your provider colleagues, either in person or remotely using Skype or Google Hangouts, so you can chat about the document and learn more about one another •Allocate further tasks and sections to each party, then complete them on your own - it may take a little while but it's worth the effort. •Leave comments on the document if you think that something needs changing.

• Involve other relevant people in the creative process, not just you and your main contact at the learning provider. This can be done by inviting them to view or edit the document using the blue "Share" button. Step 5: • Get the document approved and signed off by senior colleagues at your union and the learning provider. Share with others

Creating Partnership Agreements  

The why, what and how of creating a partnership agreement between a WULF project and a learning provider, based on Connecting Learners' expe...