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ISSN 2045-0206

Scottish Union Learning News

Winter 2013

Volume 8 Number 2

Learner of the Year Announced The 2013 Learner of the Year is Paul Mitchell of UCATT

Union Learning Conference ULRs gather at the 2013 Learning Conference in Edinburgh • twitter: @unionlearning •

Partnership Working on Equalities and Modern Apprenticeships Modern Apprenticeships continue to play an important factor in developing the skills of the Scottish workforce. Scottish Union Learning has received funding from Skills Development Scotland to undertake work on Modern Apprenticeships with a particular focus on equalities. There are three separate projects.

Printing: Hampden Advertising Cover: Louis Flood

Project 1 – Modern Apprenticeships – Identifying best practice in employing under-represented groups This project will seek to identify best practice in employing under-represented groups and develop case studies based on best practice. The Project will also identify individuals from under-represented groups to be ‘apprenticeship champions’, who will then share their experience and promote apprenticeships as an effective way to progress their career. The three under-represented groups encompass BME workers, disabled workers and those working in occupations that are gender stereotyped. Project 2: Modern Apprenticeships & the Role of HR Professionals Scottish Union Learning is working in partnership with Strathclyde University to

Bite Size SIZE Briefings BITE


Four meetings took place at the STUC from September to December 2013 in a series of workshops called “Bite Size Briefings”. These workshops, run by the Scottish Union Learning Marketing Officer, were aimed at Project Workers and union officials interested

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develop work focussing on equality and diversity with HR professionals, in relation to Modern Apprenticeships. A recruitment toolkit for HR professionals will be developed as part of this project. Project 3: Modern Apprenticeships & Unions into Schools Scottish Union Learning is working in partnership with the STUC Unions into Schools team to redevelop the ‘Better Way to Work’ pack. There will be a new section added which will focus on Modern Apprenticeships and will cover equality and diversity. Real life case studies will be utilised within this section. The Modern Apprenticeship Toolkit and accompanying materials will also be updated to reflect the changes in the programme since the pack was launched in 2011. There will be two new variations of the popular ‘Your Rights as a Modern Apprentice’ publication: one for use in the ‘Better Way to Work’ pack and the second will be for use in Further Education colleges. Further information on Modern Apprenticeships and downloadable resources can be found at apprenticeships. in learning more about raising the profile of union learning in Scotland. Topics included: Case Studies for Beginners; An Introduction to Social Media; Effective Award Nominations; and Writing Press Releases. Feedback from participants was 100% positive. Scottish Union Learning intends to continue Bite Size Briefings in the future.

Summer 2008

Paul Fee is just one of 50 learners studying ECDL at the Key2Learn Centre in the Glasgow Royal Mail Centre.

Lots of Learning in the CWU By Derek Frizzle, CWU Union Learning Rep, Glasgow Royal Mail Centre Learning amongst the CWU members in the Glasgow area has recently been taken to another level. In BT, learners embarked on a CISCO course and in the Glasgow Mail Centre, more than 50 Royal Mail learners are undertaking European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). ECDL is a higher level IT course, which is being funded by Scottish Union Learning through the European Social Fund and the Scottish Government. Both courses were set up with assistance from the CWU Project Worker, Craig Anderson. The learners on the ECDL course in the Glasgow Mail Centre consist of cleaners, clerical staff, drivers, posties and managers. There are also a few ULRs on the course, some of whom have also

undertaken a Mentoring and Supporting Course to assist the learners between classes. Paul Fee is one of the ULRs on the course who is helping other learners with course issues. Paul was nominated for the 2013 Learner of the Year Award by the CWU. Both the CISCO and ECDL courses are being delivered over a two-year period and represent a major commitment from both the learners and the providers. These courses come at a considerable cost, which is being met by the Learning Fund, and the learners are enjoying them and are benefitting by gaining more knowledge about networking systems and computers respectively. Qualifications in these subjects will greatly enhance the learners’ skill sets and CVs. In supporting these courses, the CWU and Regional Committee, as well as the respective employers, are once again showing their continued commitment to providing lifelong learning in the workplace. Winter 2013 3

STUC Unions into Schools Songs Festival Success Schools from across Scotland converged on the STUC Centre for the second Unions into Schools Songs Festival on 29 November 2013. The songs festival was established to encourage and nurture aspiring songwriters and performers to write, perform and record songs on the themes of social justice and equality.

One Big Drum, a band made up of pupils from schools across East Sutherland, kicked off proceedings by playing a live set. Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary, welcomed participants and the Panel, which was made up of musicians, educationalists and trade unionists. The Panel listened to the songs, which were introduced by the band members, and then gave constructive feedback. The Panel, chaired by musician Rab Noakes, Musicians’ Union, praised the excellent 4 Live & Learn

quality of the songs and musicianship. The musical influences were wide ranging covering African rhythms, power-pop, folk, funk and rock. Recording methods were also praised for their professionalism and ingenuity, with one song having been recorded live on a smart phone. Speaking from the platform, anti-racist campaigner and musician Jerry Dammers of The Specials, Special AKA, Spatial AKA Orchestra and founder of 2Tone Records, said: “This is not the X factor and the entry from One Big Drum is a great example of musicians working together and with each other.” Panellist and rapper Qyeen, Northern Xposure, added a personal reflection that highlighted challenges facing women in the music industry. After all the songs had been played, the pupils were given the chance of having a question and answer session

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Tracey Campbell, a UNISON ULR, accompanied One Big Drum on its trip to the STUC Unions into Schools Songs Festival. Tracey, who runs a youth club in Golspie, is employed by Highlife Highland, which helped support the trip to the STUC. Tracey said: “One Big Drum meets to practise their drumming with Bruce Armstrong, from Health and Happiness, at the youth club. It’s one project and everyone is equal. Around half of the group members have a learning disability and some of them had never been away from home before the trip to the Songs Festival.” She continued: “The event was amazing, better than I imagined it would be and One Big Drum got great feedback on its performance. There was a feeling on the day that everyone’s opinion counted and everyone could live a normal life. There was also a very positive reaction from the local community in East Sutherland, as the event was well publicised in the Northern Times.” Such was the success and popularity of the project, One Big Drum has been invited to play live at the STUC reception at Trade Union Week at the Scottish Parliament in February. Tracey will again support the group when it travels to Edinburgh. In preparation for the event, she has been learning to drum with the group so she can join in the performance. Speaking about the preparations for Trade Union Week in the Scottish Parliament, Tracey said: “Everyone is so excited about

Callum McLennan

with the Panel. The day was rounded off by poignant acapella raps by panellists Solareye (Stanley Odd) and Qyeen to the enthusiastic reaction of all those in attendance. Julie MacRae, Hillpark Secondary School, said: “A fantastic event once again from the STUC, pupils and teachers from Hillpark thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”

meeting the MSPs and getting to see inside the parliament building. We have got our questions ready and we’re really looking forward to it. As we will be in Edinburgh for a couple of nights, we have also made our plans for eating out and seeing a bit of the city. It should be a fantastic experience - I can’t wait!” Bruce Armstrong said: “Thanks again for giving us the opportunity to take part in the festival - we are really looking forward to Edinburgh in February, and hopefully to other collaborations in the future.” The Unions into Schools Songs Festival was funded and supported by the STUC, Scottish Federation of Entertainment Unions, Musicians Union, EIS, FDA (Education Scotland branch), Education Scotland, and Scottish Union Learning. For further information on STUC Unions into Schools, visit Winter 2013 5

2013 Learner of the Year: Paul Mitchell of UCATT Paul Mitchell of Knightswood, a UCATT member at City Building in Glasgow, has been named as the 2013 Learner of the Year by Scottish Union Learning and the Scottish TUC. Paul was nominated by his union, UCATT, because his learning journey embodies how through an individual’s hard work, with support from trade unions and employers, can change life for the better. The 2013 Award was sponsored by Skills Development Scotland. Paul was presented with the Learner of the Year Award by Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, at the Scottish Union Learning Conference in Edinburgh on 20 November 2013. Paul has worked at City Building in Glasgow since 1994. Diagnosed with a repetitive strain 6 Live & Learn

injury five years ago, he could no longer work in painting and decorating, and he began working in the offices of RSBi. It soon became apparent to Paul that his literacy skills were not up to scratch, and as an individual with dyslexia, he was apprehensive about learning due to his poor prior experience at school. Paul expressed his interest, as well as his apprehension, to the Learning Centre Manager, who in turn arranged for the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) tutors to speak with him. Community the Union, which manages the on-site learning centre, arranged for the WEA to deliver literacies provision for workers within RSBi, and Paul reluctantly enrolled. He received support for dyslexia and progressed from taking literacy classes to IT learning, and eventually

Summer 2008

received an English Higher qualification. From having extensive difficulties in basic reading and writing, Paul was given the support he needed by his tutors to expand his skills into other areas, such as poetry. Despite having initial misgivings about poetry, Paul has since entered his poems into Glasgow’s ‘Aye Write!’ Festival where he received a standing ovation to a poem he had written about IVF treatment. Paul has even written a short book. To ensure he is qualified and for future job security, Paul began studying for an HNC in Construction Management in September 2013. Paul is now a champion for dyslexia to the wider community. He delivers sessions on dyslexia awareness at his old primary school (with paid release from his employer) and has participated in radio/ newspaper discussions on dyslexia. Paul said: “This Award isn’t just for me. It’s for everyone in the workplace, my tutors, my ULR and my workmates. It’s not just me who has achieved this honour, it’s also for the team that guided me in this direction on my learning journey.” Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said: “Paul’s learning journey and the challenges he has overcome on the way are remarkable. With the support of his union UCATT, employer and tutor, he has gone from being a reluctant learner, embarrassed about his dyslexia, to having his poetry acclaimed at Glasgow’s ‘Aye Right!’ Festival. As a Dyslexia Champion, he is an inspiration to those challenged by dyslexia in workplaces throughout Scotland to follow his example and to seek the support they need to help them fulfil their true potential. Due to the support provided by their union, thousands of workers across Scotland successfully undertake learning journeys every year. Paul’s story is an outstanding example of how union learning changes

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, presents the Award to Paul Mitchell.

Paul Mitchell, 2013 Learner of the Year, and Michael Conroy, UCATT Project Worker.

the lives of those it touches.” Harry Frew, Regional Secretary of UCATT Scotland, said: “This achievement proves that the work of UCATT and members such as Paul who are given the opportunity to develop through the union learning programme can surpass and progress into areas of learning which we thought were impossible.” Audrey McJimpsey, RSBi Learning Centre Manager and Community Union Learning Rep, said: “Through his participation in union-led workplace learning, Paul has demonstrated tremendous professional and personal growth. As Paul’s ULR, I am delighted he has won the “Learner of the Year” award. His success is well deserved, and it will inspire other learners within the workplace.” Winter 2013 7

Louis Flood

The Diversity of Learning at the 6th Annual Learning Conference The Scottish Union Learning Conference was held on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 in the COSLA Centre, Edinburgh. The theme of the Conference was “The Diversity of Learning”. The Conference was attended by 150 delegates from 20 different unions.

The Conference was supported by Skills Development Scotland, the Open University and the Scottish Qualifications Authority. An early session on TUC Education eNotes - Modern Apprenticeships was delivered by Tommy Breslin, Scottish Union Learning, and Harry Cunningham, TUC Education Officer.

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Anne Douglas, Chair of the Scottish Union Learning Board, chaired the Conference. Angela Constance MSP, Minister for Youth Employment congratulated unions on their many learning achievements and confirmed that funding for Scottish Union Learning was included in the Scottish Government’s draft budget for 2014/2015, subject to approval by the Scottish Parliament in February 2014. Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary addressed the Conference and presented the 3rd Annual Learner of the Year Award to Paul Mitchell of UCATT. Ewart Keep, Chair in Education, Skills and Training, Department of Education, University of Oxford, also addressed the Conference. Ewart’s informative

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presentation on “The ‘Quiet Crisis’ – productivity, wages, job quality and skills utilisation” can be found online at www. scottish-union-learning-conference-2013. Delegates explored the diversity of workplace learning at themed workshop sessions, designed specifically for Union Learning Reps. Topics included Meeting the Demand for Union Learning in Scotland, Modern Apprenticeships and Positive Action, The Digital Economy, Writing Skills and Higher Education in the Workplace. Meeting the Demand for Learning was of particular interest to delegates, as it explored the results of a ULR survey undertaken by Scottish Union Learning, in partnership with the University of Strathclyde. The survey gathered evidence on the outcomes of union-led learning to support further strategic development. This workshop provided feedback from the ULR survey and delegates discussed and debated the outcomes. During the afternoon, delegates heard from Sonya Cassidy, Unite Union Learning Rep who was the recipient of the 2013 Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning. Sonya gave a short presentation on her role as a ULR and her experiences around receiving the award. Keith MacKessack of the POA spoke about his pursuits as an author, and gave a short reading of his work. Feedback from delegates, exhibitors and facilitators was extremely positive.

Angela Constance MSP, Minister for Youth Employment, chats with Gordon McGuinness, Skills Development Scotland and Anne Douglas, Scottish Union Learning Board.

Delegates enjoy a workshop.

Fred Grindrod, Unionlearn, speaks during the Modern Apprenticeships and Positive Action workshop.

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Learning Forums & Dyslexia Scottish Union Learning, in conjunction with Dyslexia Scotland, organised a ULR Development Day with the Tayside Local Learning Forum. The idea for the Development Day grew out of forum discussions, with ULRs keen to enhance their skills and to utilise the forum as a vehicle for this. Following on from the annual Scottish Union Learning Everyday Skills Event in February 2013 and a presentation on Everyday Skills at the March meeting of the forum, Tayside ULRs were keen to expand their understanding of Dyslexia and to focus an expanded September meeting on this area. The Forum agreed to meet in the morning as normal and to invite the Scottish Union Learning Everyday Skills Development Officer, Wendy Burton, to deliver a presentation to set the scene for the day. The Forum reconvened after lunch to focus on “Rethinking Dyslexia”. Wendy and Jock Munro of Dyslexia Scotland facilitated the workshop. The facilitators provided an overview on the work they undertake in supporting workers with dyslexia and ULRs. Afterward, ‘The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia’ was screened. The film screening stimulated discussion about challenging stereotypes, and what support for dyslexics is required. Following the discussion, Jock presented a session focussing on personal testimonies from people who had their dyslexia identified as adults, and how early detection would have helped them. This was followed by further discussion about possible ways to identify and ways 10 Live & Learn

to help with dyslexia, as well as discussion about educational resources, practical tools and physical aids. The workshop provided insight into: The effects of the condition on dyslexics, their families, peers and others; Coping strategies; The benefits of various ways of working with dyslexia; and The ways that dyslexics can offer improved “big-picture” and problemsolving skills. Following feedback from Forum members and the facilitators, it was evident that Local Learning Forums can be helpful vehicles in the skills development of ULRs. ULR development workshops will continue to be delivered at Local Learning Forums. Further information on ‘The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia’ can be found at The Dyslexia Scotland website also provides helpful information for dyslexics, parents, educators, employers and supporters, and can be found at www.dyslexiascotland. Thanks to Dave Rennie, PCS ULR, for his notes which contributed to this article.

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Book Week Scotland Helps Usdaw Find “Treasures” By Jill Little Woodhouse, Usdaw Lifelong Learning Project Worker Book Week Scotland is about celebrating books and reading in every part of life in Scotland. Between 25 November and 1 December 2013, people of all ages and of all walks of life came together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. USDAW is a partner in the campaign and throughout the week, its ULRs gave away over 800 copies of the free “Treasures” books to staff in our workplaces. This book is produced by the Scottish Book Trust and featured short stories from contemporary Scottish authors as well as members of the public. Usdaw also received some funding from the Scottish Book trust to produce campaign boxes for our workplaces. These

boxes contained everything ULRs needed to run an effective Book Week Scotland campaign stall in workplaces – stocks of the “Treasures” Book, pens, info leaflets and some gold chocolate coins! Usdaw supported events in 17 workplaces across the West Coast of Scotland, including Tesco stores in St Rollox, Kilmarnock, Alloa, Rutherglen, Carluke, Silverburn and Irvine; Morrisons stores in Newlands, Bishopbriggs, Baillieston, Dumfries, Johnstone, Barrack Street and Lindsayfield; as well as some non-retail workplaces such as Lightbody’s Cakes of Hamilton and the distribution depots of Tesco and the Co-op. Visit for more information on Book Week Scotland. Winter 2014 11


At the age of 54, I had never even looked at a computer never mind worked one. I would like to thank you for your patience and help during this course and throughout your training. I now look forward to putting into practice in the workplace.

- Community Union Learner BCS Computer and Online Basics, Tata Steel, Motherwell

I enjoyed the course. I thought the tutor was good and am keen to progress to the diploma, if funding becomes available.

- Unite Union Learner Professional Banking Certificate, NAG Clydesdale Bank, Livingston

The Learning and Development Funds with Scottish Union Learning

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Learners’ Voices: feedback from the Learning Fund

My Maths skills were non-existent prior to starting this course and at first I thought I would be unable to complete the first one, let alone Unit 2, but thanks to my tutor’s help and encouragement, my Maths have vastly improved and I was able to finish Unit 1 and am now starting Unit 2. - RMT Union Learner Intermediate 2 Maths - Unit 1, Highlands and Islands

Totally inspired by this course. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So happy, I feel like a digital artist and it’s a label I don’t want to give up. Thank you so much!!! - CWU Union Learner PDA Digital Imaging, O2, Skypark, Glasgow

Excellent course, excellent tutor, extremely good and positive experience. - UNISON Union Learner British Sign Language, Broadford

Summer 2008

Unite Boosts Qualifications in the Finance Sector Unite organised courses in various locations in Lowlands and Uplands Scotland for workers in the National Australia Group.

The Professional Banking Certificate is an introductory qualification for individuals working in the finance sector. The workshop, delivered by the Chartered Institute of Bankers, provided vulnerable workers with the opportunity to gain a professional qualification which is recognised in the sector. The course content focussed on areas of critical importance to the effective performance of a professional banker, including key ethical, regulatory, economic, and legal and credit issues. A total of 53 workers attended a series of 2-day workshops and 49 learners achieved the Professional Banking Certificate at SCQF level 7. Should learners wish to progress, the Certificate provides a first step towards achieving the Professional Banker Diploma.

Feedback was very positive. One learner

said: “An excellent introduction to the banking world for a complete beginner.” Another commented: “….I found it extremely useful and was pitched just right for the novice banker.” Yet another learner said: ”Overall, very good experience...Felt relevant no matter your occupation.” Janette Dunbar, Unite Learning Organiser, commented: “This has proved to be one of the most participated courses within the National Australian Group with many more of our members wishing to complete this accredited course. Our learners are determined to follow the progression path towards the Professional Banking Diploma which will broaden their horizons, further increase their personal development and maintain their employability. They are now armed with the skills, knowledge and comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles which is essential in this customer-focused sector.” Winter 2014 13

Unite members at MAHLE Engine System at the Learn with Unite Awards ceremony on site in Kilmarnock on 14 November 2014.

Unite Delivers Accredited Learning at MAHLE Engine Systems By Pat McIlvogue, Unite Learning Organiser Unite organised an awards ceremony at MAHLE Engine Systems in Kilmarnock in November 2013 to give recognition to ULRs and members who have completed learning on-site. Learning is particularly remarkable as it took place during a turbulent industrial period for the Kilmarnock site. Over the last two years, ULRs have delivered over 100 Accredited Learning opportunities for members’ onsite. Courses included Literacy and Numeracy Support, Introduction to Computers, European Computing Driving Licence (ECDL) Essentials, ECDL Extra, Spanish, German Stages 1 and 2,17th IEE Edition Wiring Regulations, Computer Aided Design (CAD) Stage 1, Computer Aided Design Stage 2. 14 Live & Learn

The blended learning model of delivery of ECDL Extra has been successful, and tutorial support sessions are fully attended. Unite is also delivering a CAD course for members at MAHLE this quarter. The CAD course is delivered on Friday afternoons at Kilmarnock College. Thirteen members are attending the course, which combines Stage 1 and 2. The Awards ceremony was attended by Tony Murphy, Unite National Officer, who presented awards to members. Tony said: “I am delighted to be invited here to MAHLE Kilmarnock to give recognition to our members who have taken on the opportunities in learning provided by Unite ULRs. This excellent learning programme demonstrates yet again the progressive proactive initiatives that Unite organises within the Automotive Sector.”

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Helen Eadie MSP In Tribute Scottish Union Learning was saddened to learn that a long-time supporter of the STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning, Helen Eadie MSP, passed away on 9 November 2013. Helen Eadie was a Labour MSP since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999. When the STUC established the Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning in 2006, Helen was the first to invite the recipient to the Scottish Parliament for a tour and to learn more about the Award’s namesake, Helen Dowie, a close friend and campaigner for Labour in Fife. A visit to the Parliament became a tradition for recipients of the STUC Helen Dowie Award. Helen’s stories, advice and counsel helped them better understand the roles activists play in affecting change, and why it is important to continue to work together to improve conditions for fellow workers in Scotland, particularly through lifelong learning. Jennifer Payne, Scottish Union Learning, said: “Helen was an inspirational woman. Her soft-spoken manner endeared her to everyone who met her, but don’t let that fool you - she was a titan, and she put her heart and soul into working for the betterment of our society. Amongst her many accomplisments, she empowered others to carry on the fight for better working conditions, equality and educational opportunities. She will be missed.”

ASLEF Education Future Plans

By Alan Reid, ASLEF Project Worker On 6 December 2013, ASLEF Union Learning Representatives gathered at the STUC in Glasgow for an ASLEF education strategy day. ASLEF reps from from Dumfries to Dundee attended, along with the District Organiser, company council chairperson and Julie McComasky, First ScotRail HR Director, to discuss the membership’s needs in workplace learning.

ULRs from Scotrail and DBSchenker brought plenty of ideas for the future of ASLEF learning. The objective of the day was to show how education and learning could support ASLEF members in the workplace, home life and the wider community. The group also looked at how the education project could contribute and complement the other work of ASLEF. With this in mind, Kevin Lindsay outlined the political and industrial strategy of ASLEF. The ULRs’ input on the day will help shape members’ needs as to what particular learning is required and how ASLEF will meet the demand. Moving forward with surveys and participation on learning, ASLEF is looking at a busy 2014. Winter 2014 15

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What’s up in 2014? Learning Matters February 17-20 18 27 March 5 8 12 13 21 28 April 3 4 14-16

STUC Trade Union Week in the Scottish Parliament Scottish Union Learning Union Advisory Group Everyday Skills Event

* Please contact your own trade union to make arrangements to attend these events. Organisation of attendance and release is by your own trade union and is not the responsibility of Scottish Union Learning.

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Local Learning Forum, Dumfries International Women’s Day Local Learning Forum, Fife Local Learning Forum, Tayside Scottish Union Learning Partners’ Advisory Group You may have noticed an irregularity of Local Learning Forum, newsletter editions in 2013. This will be Lanarkshire Local Learning Forum, Glasgow addressed in 2014 and all future editions of the newsletter are expected to be back on track! Learning and Development Funds Workshop (LUPS) Local Learning Forum, Edinburgh STUC Annual Congress

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Scottish Union Learning News Winter 2013  

'Live & Learn', the Scottish Union Learning News is a free quarterly newsletter published by Scottish Union Learning.