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A ULR toolkit for developing informal learning at work

CONTENTS What is informal learning? How to use this toolkit Getting your branch onboard Promoting learning Convincing your employer Working with providers ULRnet Using social media Poetry workshops Dealing with debt Working with libraries Credit crunch cookey

Tutor notes

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Improve your job skills History workshops High quality apprenticeships Six book challenge Human libraries Literacy and numeracy tasters Flexilearn Migration workshop Active citizenship Where to go for funding Free resources Contacts

Also available: Learning for everyone: tutor notes Contains detailed session plans for many of the activities outlined in this toolkit. Download-only publication available from

Writing/research: Matthew Egan, Editor: Martin Moriarty, Design: Cover picture: Jess Hurd/ Published by: UNISON Printed by: UNISON, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ

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FOREWORD UNISON branches throughout the UK have been setting up informal learning sessions to encourage members and potential members to try something new. The range of short, enjoyable, interactive sessions has been enormous – from archery to dance classes, financial briefings to poetry workshops, photography groups to history classes.


The benefit of all this activity is clear – not only to the members involved, some of them taking their first steps back into any form of learning for many years, but to the branches themselves, whose raised profiles have attracted new members to join and activists to come forward. Informal learning also helps build a deeper cohesion in UNISON as a whole, since many kinds of sessions take learners into places where other members work (such as libraries, community centres and colleges), giving them the chance to better understand their roles and support their services. This informal learning activity hasn’t suddenly appeared out of nowhere: it’s grown out of the traditions of trade union education that UNISON is steeped in. We have been planning and delivering learning of this sort for generations, bringing people together outside a classroom setting to help them develop the knowledge and skills they need to become active workplace reps. But now we’re widening participation, reaching out to involve more people in a wider range of activities, all of them with this twin focus of helping individual members and boosting union organisation.

This informal learning activity hasn’t suddenly appeared out of nowhere: it’s grown out of the traditions of trade union education that UNISON is steeped in We hope this toolkit will prove useful both for experienced learning reps and for newer activists who are looking for suggestions about effective and enjoyable activities they could run with little or no specialist help and little or no financial outlay. Most of the activities have already been road-tested by UNISON branches up and down the country, and their tips have been included wherever possible.


WHY IT WORKS UNISON is encouraging all its union learning reps (ULRs) to explore the possibilities of informal learning because it: • helps often understandably reluctant members to re-enter the world of learning in a non-competitive, non-threatening environment; • offers members who feel intimidated by the prospect of undertaking a formal, work-related qualification the alternative of an informal course in a subject that already interests them; • encourages learners to progress onto more formal qualifications and into UNISON’s own activist and member education programmes; • enhances the union’s reputation by showing how it can offer interesting and enjoyable learning opportunities as well as rock-solid industrial support; • improves workplace morale by providing a route into the kind of workplace training that can help members feel more valued and therefore more productive.

WHAT IS INFORMAL LEARNING? Informal learning is a kaleidoscope of part-time, non-vocational courses, sessions, workshops and tasters that you take part in simply because you want to, for their own sake. Unlike formal learning, informal learning does not involve a course with a curriculum and a set schedule that finishes with a certificate or qualification. Art classes, dance classes, book groups, cookery or craft courses, guided visits to nature reserves, museums or stately homes or tracing your family tree – they’re all forms of informal learning. When union branches organise these activities, they not only help to develop confidence and empower members, but also help to build union organisation. UNISON has produced this toolkit to show ULRs how easy and how rewarding it can be to organise informal learning in the workplace.





The toolkit will make it easier for you to follow in their footsteps and encourage more of your members and potential members to try informal learning It offers suggestions on a wide range of different subjects so that reps can quickly and easily find a theme their members will be interested in, and then have enough information and signposts to further resources to put together a session either by themselves or alongside someone with specialist knowledge or skills. Each activity is accompanied by a short guide outlining some of the key points to take into account (‘The Knowledge’), and some activities include short outline session plans (‘Step By Step’). To access more detailed notes about how to run many of the sessions suggested in this toolkit, ULRs can download the online publication Learning for everyone: tutor notes from the Learning and Organising Services (LAOS) section of the UNISON website. The tutor notes gather together all the toolkit’s additional resources in one convenient package, from which ULRs can pick and choose session plans to print and/or photocopy as and when they need. We hope that the toolkit and the tutor notes will help you encourage more of your members and potential members to try informal learning. 5

HOW TO USE THIS TOOLKIT UNISON Learning and Organising Services has produced this toolkit to help union learning reps run short, enjoyable learning sessions in the workplace that give people the chance to try something new, such as cookery, poetry or history. It shows how easy it can be to put on an interesting and informative learning session over a lunchtime, with few expenses beyond publicity and room hire, little need for specialist equipment (a flipchart, paper and pens will often do), and no external tutors (in most cases). The majority of the activities come directly from other ULRs in UNISON who have already run them successfully in their own workplaces, and we’ve included some of their hints and tips to help encourage more learning reps to follow their lead. One of the ideas behind the toolkit is to give ULRs the chance to run short sessions in the workplace themselves. UNISON will be running training sessions to help learning reps who don’t yet feel confident enough to facilitate one of these sessions, and your regional education team will also be happy to advise. In addition, ULRs can network with each other to get help and support. UNISON and unionlearn regions hold ULR networking events throughout the year where you can meet reps dealing with similar issues. You can also use UNISON’s online ULR forum ULRnet to get support and encouragement.

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All the activities include details of the aims of the session, how long it should last, and what specialist equipment or materials you might need (if any). In some cases, we’ve signposted ULRs to the online publication Learning for everyone: tutor notes, which contains more detailed session plans than could be practically included in a publication of this size.

One of the ideas behind the toolkit is to give ULRs the chance to run short sessions in the workplace themselves We know that some ULRs finish their training and then find themselves wondering what to do. We hope that this toolkit will give them good examples of the range of work that they can undertake in their workplace. We will be adding to the online version of this toolkit as and when new activities are developed for our ULRs to use. If you would like to contribute any suggestions, please email learning&



Talk to your branch education coordinator and any other ULRs in your workplace to make sure everyone is interested and supportive about running informal learning in the workplace. Discuss informal learning with your employer and show how running short informal learning sessions during lunchtimes, for example, can benefit the workplace. If you’re running sessions that require specialist tutors or facilitators (eg, foreign languages), discuss what you need with local colleges and choose a provider with whom you have a good rapport. Survey your members and find out what they’re interested in – and check to see if any of your members have the confidence and the skills to run sessions themselves. Make use of schemes such as Quick Reads and the Six Book Challenge, resources such as local libraries and UNISON’s online forum ULRnet and events such as Learning At Work Day and Adult Learners’ Week to help promote community education in your workplace. Offer sessions that are relevant: lots of members and potential members will be interested in practical advice to help them get on top of their money problems, and if redundancies are on the cards, job skills sessions are likely to prove popular.

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WHAT DO YOUR MEMBERS WANT? The best way of finding out what kind of informal learning would prove popular is by talking to members and potential members in the workplace. ULRs can simply talk to people, or survey learning needs with a paper or intranet form (there’s a sample form on the LAOS website). Make sure you give people options that you would be comfortable running or confident of finding an external facilitator for: don’t give them the option of paragliding lessons if you know it’s something that you could never hope to run. You can also ask members if they have the skills and confidence to teach others – perhaps someone who speaks fluent French could run a class or a passionate digital photographer would be happy to share their expertise. When distributing your survey, make use of your branch structures and ask whether your employer will help too. When you get the survey back, you’ll have a far better idea of what sort of learning people will want to do.

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FIND OUT MORE Contact your Regional Learning Organiser (details are on the LAOS section of the UNISON website). Call UNISONdirect on 0845 355 0845. Email LAOS: learning&

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GETTING YOUR BRANCH ONBOARD To make sure your work promoting informal learning is as effective as possible, ULRs need the support and involvement of their branches. A great way of securing branch support is to offer to run an informal debriefing session on a recent activity or campaign to help activists learn effective ways of improving their performance. How to promote learning to your branch 1 Talk to your branch education officer/lifelong learning co-ordinator (or your branch secretary if those roles aren’t filled) to find out if any other ULRs and activists are promoting informal learning in the workplace. Get in touch with them and let them know you want to get involved. 2 Attend a branch committee meeting to give a presentation on the benefits of informal learning in the workplace, or invite your regional learning organiser to provide the presentation if you don’t yet feel confident enough. 3 When discussing any aspect of workplace learning with branch committee members, remind them how it can: • boost recruitment; • enhance members’ involvement in and satisfaction with UNISON; • attract new and different activists; • improve industrial relations.


You don’t have to know a lot about the activity or campaign – your role is to facilitate the discussion

THE KNOWLEDGE What’s the aim of the session? To involve ULRs in mainstream branch activity and show activists how to learn lessons and improve their performance in their roles. Who’s the target audience? Branch activists. How long does it take? No more than an hour to ensure the sessions remains tightly focused – allow around ten minutes for each step. Who can run the session? ULRs. You don’t have to know a lot about the activity or campaign – your role is to facilitate the discussion and extract pertinent points. Do you need any special materials? Flipchart and pens.

FIND OUT MORE For more in-depth advice and guidance on encouraging your branch to support informal learning in the workplace and the range of benefits it can bring, please see UNISON’s Branch Guide to Lifelong Learning (Dec 2009).

THE ART OF DEBRIEFIN G This is a good activity for ULRs to offer as a way of getting more involved in their branch, and could be the core activities of run after a recruitment ca mp aig n, for instance. Effective debriefi sessions focus on the les ng sons branch activists can lea rn an d su cce ssfully avoids blaming or finger-pointing. STEP ONE Start by asking everyone for their initial feelings about the activity/cam people the opportunity to paign: This gives express themselves and tal k fre ely . Do n’t skip this step – if you do participants will be waitin , g to speak instead of ref lecting on the lessons the y could learn. STEP TWO Identify objective facts: It’s vital to maintain the focus on objective fact, no interpretation. Go aroun t subjective d the group and compile a lis t of po int s, su ch as: • how many members we re recruited; • how many new stewards the branch has; • which targets were me t and which not met. Resist the temptation to offer commentary at this step of debriefing. STEP THREE Discuss the positive: Kn owing what went right is critical – especially in the where it will be harder to context of a loss see. The goal is to identi fy as ma ny ite ms as possible that went rig and list them. Don’t includ ht e criticisms in this step – you’ll have plenty of time for that later. STEP FOUR Criticism: Effective critic ism points out shortcomi ngs and weaknesses with your branch performance the aim of improving . Blame and finger-pointin g lea d to ine ffe cti ve criticism. Once again the points made from the list group. STEP FIVE New ideas: Looking over your two lists, ask everyon e what lessons they can they could make adjustm learn and how ents to the way the branc h op era tes . Ma ke a note of what suggestio people make and write the ns m up for the branch. Ma ke su re the bra nc h refers to them when planning the next activity /campaign.


PROMOTING LEARNING ULRs or lifelong learning co-ordinators can use this interactive activity to help branch colleagues plan a strategy for talking to under-represented or non-unionised workers about learning.

THE KNOWLEDGE What’s the aim of the session? To promote the learning agenda in the branch and in non-unionised workplaces. Who’s the target audience? Run this session with branch officers and other Union Learning Reps (eg, at a branch committee or a branch education team meeting). How long does it take? 45 – 90 minutes, depending on the amount of mapping information already available. How much does it cost? Nothing. Who can run this session? A ULR or other branch representative. What special materials will you need? A list of names of employees in the areas you want to focus on to develop learning activity. This should be available from the branch or from the employer. Any additional mapping information from the branch. Information about ULRs and community learning champions. Flipchart and pens and a room you can move around in. Record sheets (example below).



Date spoken to Workplace issues Possible learning needs en Follow up needed/ by wh isations? Links to community organ Other ion/ULR?


Potential learning champ

LEARNING T U O B A S R E K R O W O T TALKING ator lifelong learning co-ordin

a ULR or cussion meeting in which n-unionised This is the outline for a dis to under-represented or no g kin tal for gy ate str a n s to pla nt to them. can help branch colleague issues which are importa d an , ity un mm co the in ir links workers about learning, the one where there nt to target first. Choose wa u yo es lac rkp wo or areas ally have 1 Start by agreeing which workers who don’t norm of s up gro or s ed ne ng learni lpful to agree are likely to be particular nionised. (It would be he n-u no are ich wh or ng r traini access either to employe pping information). you have the relevant ma re su ke ma n ca u yo so e this in advanc workplace e to help set this out as a on ery ev k As le. ab ail av ormation te of the 2 Share the mapping inf workplace and make a no the of rts pa t en fer dif the out map, in which you sketch re. able about who works the information currently avail d any extra below) and as a group ad ple am (ex t ee sh ord rec in the 3 Introduce the headings t be useful to the branch. headings you think migh one to work in the community. Ask every d an ng rni lea t ou ab on ersati of their ideas. 4 Practise starting a conv workers and make a note th wi on ati ers nv co a rt will sta conversation pairs to agree how they ns to practise starting a tur in it e tak d an d un ve aro r should respond Then ask everyone to mo person who is the worke e Th . up gro the of ers mb with one or two other me to focus on. the workplace you want in a way that is realistic for flipchart. and write these points on st be d rke wo at wh on up 5 Feedback as a whole gro : ing information, and agree 6 Look back to the mapp what time frame talk to workers, and over to e tim od go a be uld • when wo which workers n the next steps. • who will aim to talk to ed record sheets and pla let mp co the iew rev to • when you will meet again


CONVINCING YOUR EMPLOYER When employers support informal learning (by releasing staff, providing rooms and facilities and even contributing towards the costs), they not only help ensure the success of the sessions – they also increase the likelihood of their staff trying a relaxed taster and then moving on to taking a formal qualification.

MAKING THE ARGUMENTS Encouraging staff to take up learning for their own personal enjoyment or satisfaction can help bring many benefits to the workplace: • boosting morale; • encouraging interaction between staff; • improving industrial relations. In addition, informal, non-accredited courses can help many people overcome their own personal resistance to trying something more formal and vocational. Sessions on subjects such as genealogy or digital photography can be a brilliantly unthreatening route back into the world of learning for people whose schooldays might not have been the happiest days of their lives.


CASE STUDY You are cleared for take-off Hundreds of staff at Manchester Airport have been taking courses in languages, money management and digital photography since the Airport Learn centre opened onsite in September 2009. Launched through a partnership between management, unions and local provider Trafford College, the centre has proved popular with managers and staff alike. Offering work-related qualifications as well as non-vocational courses, the centre has lifted morale, increased employee engagement, reduced sickness absence and helped cut down customer complaints, according to Manchester Airport UNISON Branch Education Co-ordinator Tracey Thompson. “I’m absolutely passionate about what the Airport Learn product stands for, and contributing to the delivery gives me a tremendous sense of achievement,” Tracey says. “Whether it’s for career development or personal reasons it’s a win-win situation, helping to build confidence in employees at the same time as building a better skilled and more content workforce, which can only contribute to the company’s goals in a positive way.” Tracey’s enthusiasm is matched by engineering manager Simon Quinn’s. Before the creation of Airport Learn, he says it was always a struggle to reconcile time off for staff to train with the more immediate needs of the business. “It was a relief not only to myself but for my team to be able to offer not only work-related courses like First Aid and computer courses, but also a chance to offer courses which

covered personal interests like digital photography,” he says. “Allowing my team to take up these opportunities so close to their working environment has allowed me to release them from shift without the need to create overtime at a cost to the business – and so everyone is happy.” Expanding staff horizons through Airport Learn has helped create a more positive attitude in the team, he says, and people who have taken courses are talking in their Colleague Achievement Reviews about how delighted they are to have been given the opportunities for development. Staff have moved on from informal learning to develop themselves professionally, as one UNISON member explains: “I found both the hanging baskets and containers and pots demonstrations very worthwhile and enjoyable: although they were taster courses they have inspired me to do a further course in IT.” Tracey argues that more companies should adopt the Manchester model, and facilitate personal development as well as professional qualifications. “Employers should invest in projects such as Airport Learn because they help enhance people’s lives,” she believes.

FIND OUT MORE There’s more in-depth advice and guidance about how to gain your employer’s support for all sorts of workplace learning in UNISON’s Branch Guide to Lifelong Learning (Dec 2009).


WORKING WITH PROVIDERS Most of the sessions in this toolkit can be run by a ULR, branch rep or UNISON staff member but some informal learning works best when it’s provided by a local college (such as holiday language classes, digital photography sessions, Pilates). These tips on working with providers have been prepared to help you get the best out of their expertise. 1 Pick the right provider • Only work with providers that share the UNISON ethos and with which you have a good relationship or feel a rapport. • Speak to as many providers as possible to see what they all offer: don’t just go with the first one who offers what you need. • Ask for a dedicated person to deal with the event/sessions. • Draw up a document that agrees what each side is responsible for (ie, tables, projectors, etc.). • Ask for demonstrations of what will be provided . • Meet the tutors. • Ask the tutors to ensure people have a go rather than just talking at them: make sessions fun. 2 Location, location, location • Think about where staff are based and places they regularly visit at certain hours. • Remember to provide for staff on shifts/set hours. • Ensure that the location is fit for purpose (ie, has electrical sockets, enough room, natural light).


• Provide food for the event so that staff can attend over their lunch break. • Lots of small sessions over a period of time are better attended than one big event. 3 Advertise • Make clear what’s on offer. • If the sessions are free, say so! If not, specify the cost. • Be specific with times, dates and location if possible. • Make the adverts colourful and inviting. • Use a large font. • Get permission to use logos. • You can never advertise too much! • Remind people via a leaflet drop/web alert on the day. • Always advertise the course as provided by UNISON. 4 Be prepared • Be available and visible on the day. • Always have spare equipment available such as extension leads, laptops. • Ensure that IT is on standby in case any problems arise. • UNISON bags (including free pens and application forms) are always a hit! • Have UNISON application forms handy. • Ensure the sessions look welcoming (ie, not like school).



It’s always good to be clear on who’s responsible for what. 1 ULR or other UNISON rep • Acts as main contact between learners and course tutor/provider. • Ensures that learners are aware of any costs. • Emails a list of interested learners to tutor/provider. • Ensures that learners are aware of course detail and payment deadlines. • Ensures that learners and tutor have access to course venue. • Ensures that UNISON evaluation forms are distributed before final session. • Keeps an updated list of names of learners for future reference. • Contacts provider with queries about payments. • Ensures learners know about UNISON’s involvement in the course and encourages them to get involved in other branch activity. 2 Tutor/provider • Deals with all course payments and payment queries. • Deals with all administration regarding the organising of courses. • Emails list of confirmed ‘paid learners’ to UNISON ULRs and tutors before the start of the course. • Ensures that learners are aware of the discount for UNISON members. 3 Learner • Contacts ULR if interested in attending a course. • Informs ULR of any change in circumstances that prevents attendance. • Pays course fees in full, before payment deadline, to confirm place.

USE THE WEA As well as getting in touch with local colleges, contact the Workers’ Educational Association, which has put on a range of learning activities for unions over the years. Visit:


ULRnet UNISON’s online forum for learning reps is a very useful tool for keeping up with all the changes in the world of lifelong learning. But it’s also much more than that: by allowing you to make contact (and stay in touch) with ULRs across the country, ULRnet means help and support is only ever a few keystrokes away.

I’ve found ULRnet to be a fantastic source of ideas and support: I would encourage all ULRs to sign up and get involved! Cassandra Haywood, Learning Coordinator, Leicestershire County Branch

CASE STUDY Useful things happen on the way to the forum The online learning rep forum ULRnet is “probably one of the best learning resources UNISON provides,” according to Wolverhampton General Branch Education Officer and ULR Alan Marriott. “It’s a brilliant way of keeping in touch with learning rep colleagues across the UK. The more people use it the better: it’s a great example of how useful online access and IT skills can be for ULRs,” he suggests. ULRnet enables learning reps to: • share ideas, documents and useful information; • keep in touch with each other on what’s happening in their workplaces/local areas; • meet colleagues working on similar elements of the workplace learning agenda; • keep up to date with national policies and initiatives that impact on union learning. ULRs looking for ideas and inspiration can logon to the forum and simply ask for help


from the friendly learning reps from all over the country who use the forum – they’re always happy to share their experiences. There are some pre-existing discussions of informal learning on the forum, but you shouldn’t feel restricted by them: if you have a question about something new that isn’t covered elsewhere, simply start a new thread and find out what other ULRs have got to say. Alan has used the forum to make contact with people he wouldn’t have met in the normal course of his work, and being part of the forum has encouraged him to develop his own ideas and share them with fellow learning reps. ULRnet has also helped keep him motivated while lifelong learning has been establishing itself in the union. “It can be fun just making that contact with people who share your enthusiasms and interest in an area of union work that is still not as well recognised for its value as it should be,” he argues.

FIND OUT MORE To join ULRnet, simply request your logon details from Learning and Workforce Development Officer Jane Shepherd

USING SOCIAL MEDIA Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube mean you and your branch could build a more interactive relationship with your members, potential members and supporters: they can all be more time-consuming to maintain and update than a traditional website, but the potential rewards are that much bigger – not least because social media postings have the potential to go ‘viral’, spreading from one user to another incredibly quickly. Blogs Blogs enable you to write and post regular columns online without the space restrictions that help make websites easily readable, giving you the chance to post pieces with fuller analysis and get immediate feedback from readers through the ‘comment’ function. You’ll usually need to use a blogging provider such as WordPress, LiveJournal or Blogger (all free). UNISON Scotland: Facebook Facebook is currently the biggest social networking site, and many unions and campaigns have set up Facebook groups so they can quickly alert group members with important news and calls to action. Find out how:!/help/?section=using Join UNISON’s Facebook groups: Main:!/pages/UNISON/108190912534823


NHS:!/ournhsourfuture Million Voices:!/amillionvoices Young Members:!/youngunison False Economy:!/FalseEconomy Other networking websites False Economy: Left foot forward: Twitter Twitter is a combination of a micro-blogging tool and a social networking site that is a good way of routing more traffic to your blog and building a relationship with your readership.

Find out how: Follow UNISON: @unisontweets and @unisonmv YouTube YouTube enables you to upload videos that you’ve created onto its site, which acts as a global distribution forum. Once the files are uploaded, you can share them via email, blogging, or Facebook, and embed them on your site or blog. Find out how: Watch UNISON videos:

YouTube enables you to upload videos that you’ve created onto its site, which acts as a global distribution forum

FIND OUT MORE Further advice about setting up a website or blog is included in the UNISON guide ‘Effective campaigning – Using the new media and social networking sites’. Download your copy from


The aim of this exercise is to help you and your bra nch begin to use social media . You could run the activity at a branch or branch comm ittee meeting. 1 Find the video called ‘Lo ve your Libraries: the Peop le’s Inquiry’ on the UNISON ch annel on YouTube. ISONTV#p/u/19/C7QCszP vpbY 2 Run the film using a co mputer with an internet connection and a projec tor if available. 3 Discuss the impact of the film, using some of the following questions: • Do you think the film ha s the potential to reach mo re people than a leaflet or a letter to the local newspa per? • How could you signpos t more of your members and potential members to the film? • Could you work with yo ur local library to run an event or campaign in the future ? • Could you make a short film on a similar theme in your branch? • What theme would you choose? How could you explore the theme in a short video ? Would you film a series of interviews? Would you int erview workers or service users or both? Could you film any activities that he lp make your point? 4 Decide how you will fol low up the activity. Can yo u put together a planning group ? What specialist equipme nt and knowledge and skills will you need? When do you aim to finish your film an d upload it? How will you let people know?

POETRY WORKSHOPS Poetry workshops boost members’ confidence, sharpen their appreciation of words and encourage creative self-expression. And the great thing about them is that they can be adapted to any topic, from the realities of working life to the pleasures of the world beyond the office.

What is a haiku? The haiku, which originated in Japan, is a short poem using a total of 17 syllables in three lines of five, seven and five. This is a classic example of a haiku: Cherry, apple, rose, blossoms in countless colours – each one of them pink.

CASE STUDY Having the rhyme of their lives Swindon Local Government Branch has been running poetry workshops to help members boost their confidence, improve their literacy and listening skills and develop their interest in creative writing. As well as learning about different poetic forms, participants moved on from playing with words to writing their own poetry, either by getting their ideas on paper themselves or by working with ‘buddies’ with the necessary writing skills. Two local poets facilitated the workshops for the branch: performance poet and former BBC Gloucestershire Reading and Writing Ambassador Marcus Moore did the honours in 2009, followed in 2010 by Hilda Sheehan, chair of BlueGate Poets, Swindon’s newest poetry society. Workshop participants enjoyed all the sessions, and came away with a real sense of


achievement by creating their own poems, which were later read at a special event and published in a booklet. The branch came up with an unusual way to encourage people to join in, in addition to all the usual posters, intranet messages and emails: it organised for the town’s community poet Tony Hillier to spend a day in a lift at the council, reciting poetry and asking staff for words that could be used to help compose poems at the workshops. The branch continues to be involved in poetry initiatives: encouraged by Lifelong Learning Co-ordinator Shelly Fleming, a 50-strong team knitted hundreds of individual letters on squares that were then assembled into The Cottager’s Evening by local poet Alfred Williams (1877-1930) to mark National Poetry Day in October 2010.

THE KNOWLEDGE What’s the aim of the exercise? To help people understand the haiku and write some of their own. Who’s the target audience? All members/ potential members. How long do they take? An hour. You can run more than one workshop, or a whole series. You can also run a follow-up event where members read their work. How much do they cost? A local poet to facilitate the workshop may charge for their time, although some may be able to do it for free. How many members can attend? One workshop would be suitable for up to ten people.


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Introduce the haiku as one example of the different forms used in poetry. 10 minutes Read some haikus to the whole group. 10 minutes Break into pairs to write some haikus together. 10 minutes Come back together to listen to haikus participants have written. 15 minutes Signpost participants to where further help and information is available. 5 minutes Set some homework, which could include practising writing haikus individually and looking at another topic (eg, acrostic poetry, where the first letter of every line spells out a word or phrase). 10 minutes There’s a more detailed poetry workshop session plan included in Learning for everyone: tutor notes, available from

FIND OUT MORE For advice on running your own poetry workshop, please email LAOS to be put in touch with the Swindon branch: learning&


DEALING WITH DEBT With unemployment increasing and prices rising, serious debt is becoming a significant issue throughout the country. ULRs can help their members and potential members by running short sessions to help them get on top of their money problems. Further additional activities including a short questionnaire are available online.


ts to brainstorm n and ask participan io ss se e th ce du tro 1 In an, HP agreement exist (eg, student lo bt de of s pe ty at wh including edit card, mortgage) cr a, of /s TV r, ca a on course fees). season ticket loans, g, (e s bt de n’ de id ‘h iority debt?’. sheet ‘What is a pr rk wo e th ce du tro 2 In d then discuss to pairs to fill it in an in p ou gr e th de vi Di e differences so le need to know th op Pe s. er sw an e th nsequences. the most severe co d oi av n ca ey th at th ns at the top e following questio th e rit w : on si us sc 3 Di pcharts: of three different fli s financial dicate someone ha in n ca s gn si t ha W • problems? ng inside or d members be faci • What issues coul at could indicate outside of work th financial problems? to discuss proach a member • How could you ap financial issues? post members each point and sign on ck ba ed fe ke Ta 4 as appropriate.


THE KNOWLEDGE What’s the aim of the session? To help members begin to get to grips with debt problems. Who’s the target audience? Workplace reps, members and potential members. How long does it take? Around 45 minutes (or up to 90 minutes with the addition of further activities online). How much does it cost? Nothing. Who can run this session? A ULR or other branch representative. What will you need? Copies of the handout and a flipchart and pens. There’s a more detailed debt workshop session plan included in Learning for everyone: tutor notes, available from

FIND OUT MORE ‘Making the most of your money’ is a free, hour-long presentation developed by the Consumer Financial Education Body (CFEB) and delivered in the workplace by specially trained presenters. All you need do is generate a minimum of 20 people to attend. To arrange a session, email

Identifying priority and non-priority debts Look at the debts this member has built up and decide which are priority and which are non-priority by ticking the relevant box.

Type of debt



Possible consequence

1 Owes money to the electricity/gas supply company

2 Behind on loan payments for a car they need for work

3 Has a credit card bill that they can’t pay

4 Owes landlord two months’ rent

5 Owes money on store card

6 Is behind with Council Tax

7 Owes money to sister

Worksheet answers 1 Priority: power supply companies can cut off customers in arrears – water supply cannot be disconnected. 2 Priority: member may lose their job without use of a car. 3 Non-priority: credit card issuer may add extra charges but member could negotiate lower repayments 4 Priority: member could be evicted for non-payment of rent; home could be repossessed in case of defaulting on mortgage. 5 Non-priority: store card issuer may add extra charges but member could negotiate lower repayments. 6 Priority: money could be taken from wages/benefits; member could be taken to court. 7 Non-priority: member could ask for extension on loan


WORKING WITH LIBRARIES Your local library is one of the best resources a ULR can ask for to help support informal learning. Libraries are always interested in working with new partners and they provide a wide range of resources and run many interesting activities completely free of charge.

L VE OUR LIBRARIES UNISON is campaigning to ensure good public libraries remain at the heart of the communities they serve. For more details, visit loveyourlibraries.asp

CASE STUDY Looking back to move forward Award-winning writer David Peace came to Salford to talk about his work at a sell-out event hosted by UNISON North West – thanks to the union’s close links with Salford Library Service. It was the library service that put the union in touch with the best-selling author, and also helped promote and host the event in the autumn of 2010. David talked about his miners’ strike novel GB84 alongside acclaimed photographer Keith Pattison, with whom he collaborated on a pictorial account of the dispute’s impact on the Durham mining community of Easington, called No Redemption. Actor Maxine Peake joined David to read parts of the book, based on interviews David conducted on polling day in 2010 with three of the residents featured in Keith’s photographs from 25 years ago.


“My novel is very bleak and very despairing of what happened,” David says. “But with Keith’s photographs and the interviews we conducted, there is a narrative that I would say is inspirational, due to the fact that for a year people resisted the occupation of their village and everything that that entailed.” The event was very warmly received by the mix of UNISON members and local library users, with feedback including: “It was powerful and very inspiring – stirring stuff indeed!” and: “It was a really brilliant event: I thought all the speakers were very inspiring – when I got home I couldn’t decide what to start reading first!” Putting on the event also ensured that great contacts were made between the union and the library service, paving the way for future joint working on areas like the Six Book Challenge.

Peace ke and David Maxine Pea avid’s work at a read from D t in Salford. sell-out even

CHECK THIS OUT Your local library service can help you promote informal learning initiatives in a range of different ways. • Librarians can recommend books to help complement any courses you are running, from books on local history to guides to car maintenance. • Libraries provide a range of materials to help your language learners – DVDs, audio CDs, phrasebooks and electronic resources. • Librarians can help learners find answers to queries arising from any courses or adult learning they’re undertaking, and can help find books of interest to members looking to learn about a particular subject. • Larger libraries have access to many local and family history resources, archive material and parish records that can help you run genealogy courses: expert staff can guide you through the wealth of material. • Many libraries run ICT taster sessions and courses for beginners free of charge so that people gain the confidence and skills they need to use the library’s computers. • Libraries run many informal learning events you can signpost members to, from Human Library events to talks by local and national authors. • Almost all libraries run reading groups, where people can come together to discuss books they have read.

FIND OUT MORE Telephone the enquiries desk of your local library service and explain you’d like to work with the library on a community education project or event: they’ll put you in touch with the librarian who’ll be able to help you most.

CREDIT CRUNCH COOKERY UNISON has developed its own Credit Crunch Cookery Course, to show members how to cook quick and easy healthy meals on a budget. But as well as learning about different ingredients, techniques and equipment, participants can also sharpen their numeracy skills by working out costs per head, managing portion control and converting between metric and imperial measurements.

THE KNOWLEDGE Who’s the target audience? Credit crunch cookery is suitable for everyone, whatever their background or abilities. How long do sessions take? There are six sessions, each of 90 minutes. How much do they cost? You’ll need to hire a kitchen, buy all the ingredients, provide equipment and pay a chef to run the course. How many members can attend? Maximum of 12 participants, although numbers will depend on the kitchen.

CASE STUDY Developing an appetite for learning Reading Borough Branch piloted UNISON’s six-week Credit Crunch Cookery course in 2010 after a learning survey revealed members at the authority were keen to develop their skills in the kitchen. As well as showing members how to cook healthy meals on a budget, the course includes discussions of organic food, food packaging and recycling and also embeds numeracy issues such as converting between imperial and metric measurements, calculating cost per head and managing portion control. The tutor in Reading was chef Kevin Muhammed, who led the course so well and


proved so popular with participants that the branch invited him back to run cookery demonstrations during Adult Learners’ Week. About 30 council staff attended the lunchtime demonstrations and tasting sessions, which featured both Caribbean and classic Italian cuisine, while another nine people took part in an evening family cooking workshop. The sessions went down a treat with participants and very effectively raised the union’s profile at the authority. “Most people asked when we’re going to do new courses,” says Reading UNISON Assistant Branch Secretary Pat Kenny.


1 2 3

Start with an ingredient test ice-breaker: provide some unusual/exotic foods for participants to identify. 10 minutes Make an initial assessment of participants’ previous experience and review dietary requirements. 10 minutes Discuss health and safety/risk factors in the kitchen (eg, knives, crosscontamination). 10 minutes Introduce the dish (eg chicken/vegetable chow mein), portion control (how to scale up or scale down recipes depending on numbers of people) and any special techniques required. 20 minutes Demonstrate each step in the recipe, including presentation; supervise as participants follow instructions and finish with everyone tasting what they’ve made. 25 minutes Wash up and clear. 10 minutes Encourage participants to discuss the session and review their results and introduce the dish they will be making in the next session. 5 minutes There’s a more detailed credit crunch cookery session plan included in Learning for everyone: tutor notes, available from

4 5

6 7

For advice on running UNISON’s credit crunch cookery course, please contact Davinder Sandhu in the LAOS team:



IMPROVE YOUR JOB SKILLS It’s crucial to be positive when you apply for a job – beginning with the way you present yourself and your skills in a letter, application from or CV. These confidence-building exercises can help show people the best approach to being positive about all the skills, knowledge and experience they have. You can encourage participants to work in pairs or by themselves.

Exercises adapted from the ‘Moving on: supporting members facing redundancy’ pack produced by Ricky Hopkins for UNISON, The complete pack is included in Learning for everyone: tutor notes, available from


THE KNOWLEDGE What’s the aim of the session? To help build participants’ confidence in their skills and help them think about the best way to present themselves when looking for a new job. Who’s the target audience? All members and potential members in the workplace, especially those facing redundancy or retirement or those interested in a career change. How long does it take? Approximately 60–90 minutes. Who can run the session? ULRs. What special materials do you need? Paper and pens; flipchart list of positive words.

nted in use they take them for gra ca be , ve ha y the ills sk e to includ ich would be Very often, people forget e may be the very skills wh es Th nt. rta po im ing be e them as themselves and don’t se yer. under the really useful to an emplo of your life, and list them as are t en fer dif the in ve you ha Think about all the skills best: heading below which fits • at home • at work • voluntary work • hobbies and interests • any others.



How you write about your skills says a lot about ho w positive you feel as a pe how much you value yours rson. It tells an employer elf and your experiences . 1 Look at these two statem ents: • “Spent 10 years at home with the children and no w I want a change.” • “Decided to take a 10-ye ar break from paid emplo yment to support my child Now they are independe ren in their early years. nt the time is right for a ne w ch all en ge .” 2 How do you think the tw o writers feel about what they have done for the pa st 10 years? List your reaso ns.


Using words from the lis t below, write a new posit ive version of the following 1 Was asked to show ne sentences. w staff how to do the wo rk. 2 Had to keep an eye on what stock was needed an d place new orders when 3 The boss always asked we were running low. me to fill in for people fro m other departments wh 4 I had to sort out the fili en they were short. ng system and then show others how to use it. 5 Used to do the books for the local playgroup: wh at you want is probably sim 6 The boss would often lea ilar. ve me to work by myself all day. Positive words achieved communicated created economical expanded initiated organised resourceful supervised

assessed consistent designed effective guided knowledge participated responsible trained

capable controlled developed efficient implemented managed positive specialised varied

competent co-ordinated directed established improved monitored productive successful versatile

Exercise 3: possible ans wers 1 Given responsibility for some staff induction. 2 Organised stock contro l and purchase. 3 Versatile and experience d in all areas within the com pany. 4 Created the company’s filing system and organi sed staff training for its use 5 Controlled and kept aud . ited records of Playgroup accounts, including petty tasks in your job descrip cash: I feel this experience tion. directly relates to the 6 I was encouraged to tak e on the responsibility of my work unsupervised.


HISTORY WORKSHOPS You don’t have to be an expert historian to encourage debate and discussion about some of the flashpoints in the growth of the trade union movement through the industrial era. Armed with some relevant documents easily available from online resources, you can run a historical session that will get people thinking in a new way about the past and the present. In Touch With Our Roots ‘In Touch With Our Roots’ is a UNISON Northwest project making available digitised versions of documents about some of the important issues, movements and people of the industrial era that ULRs could use to launch a short history session in the workplace. The Union Makes Us Strong ‘The Union Makes Us Strong: TUC History Online’ includes an extensive archive from the General Strike of 1926 and the documented story of the 1888 ‘Match Girls’ strike at the Bryant and May factory in east London.

The ‘Learning’ section of the website includes a range of historical resources designed for schools that would be equally useful to ULRs 30

The Working Class Movement Library The Working Class Movement Library website includes a range of historical resources (in the ‘Learning’ section) that would be useful to ULRs organising a discussions on issues such as the Peterloo massacre, Luddites and Chartism. LAOS Membership Development Project LAOS Membership Development staff are working with the Modern Records Centre at Warwick University (home of the archive records of UNISON and its predecessors) to help members access historical documents in local libraries and national archives all over the country. Workshop materials and resources will be available by the end of 2011.

E PAST H T G IN T A IG T S E V IN the e is to reflect upon cis er ex is th of m ai The cy and t in British democra es ot pr of e nc ca ifi sign ement. the trade union mov

miliar with le in the class are fa op pe y an m w ho k 1 As cre. The Peterloo Massa sing more view of the event (u er ov f ie br a e id ov 2 Pr ’s video clip on s) and play UNISON te no r to tu d ile ta de the subject. k them small groups and as to in s as cl e th k ea 3 Br have been protests that they y an on up ct fle re to they make r experiences? Did on. What were thei a difference?








Who’s the target audience? Anyone with an interest in the history of the trade union movement. How long do sessions take? You could cover a topic in 45 minutes. How much do they cost? Download free resources from the TUC Online, WCML or UNISON LAOS websites. If you have access to an internet-connected laptop and a projector, you could also screen short films from online resources. Who can run sessions? Any union rep with an interest in history: you don’t need to be an expert on the subject – the idea is to encourage debate among participants. What materials will you need? A laptop with internet access and a projector, plus a flipchart, paper and pens. You may also wish to print some source materials from a relevant website to hand out to participants.




KEY ELEMENTS • Employment: apprentices should be directly employed; agency apprentices should only be working where an employer would find direct employment difficult. • Contract: apprentices should have contracts of employment for at least the duration of their training period. • Access to the union: the branch should negotiate with the employer to ensure it has the chance to talk about what the union has to offer young people. • Mentoring: negotiate a clear system for supervision, support and mentoring, ideally with UNISON involvement, with a clear role for ULRs. • Pay: decent pay rates are essential to completion rates. • Equality and diversity: apprenticeships should be accessible to the widest possible demographic. • Training: apprenticeship programmes must give participants enough time to study off the job. The minimum hours of off-the-job training (and all other statutory requirements) are set out in the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England. • Although the principles are the same, apprenticeship schemes operate under different funding and regulatory arrangements in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

FIND OUT MORE Order your copy of the Apprenticeships Toolkit, or download an electronic version, from index.cfm?frmPubID=171 UNISON guidance:

THE KNOWLEDGE Who’s the target audience? Run this session with branch officers and other Union Learning Reps (eg, at a branch committee or a branch education team meeting). How long does it take? 45 –60 minutes. How much does it cost? Nothing. Who can run this session? A ULR or other branch representative. What special materials will you need? Copies of the TUC Apprenticeships Toolkit and UNISON guidance.

HIGH QUALITY APPRENTICESHIPS Union learning reps can help inform branch officers and reps about apprenticeships and agree the best way to support high quality apprenticeship schemes and apprentices in the workplace by running short sessions to pool ideas and develop strategies.

Run this session with branch officers and other Union Learning Reps (eg, at a branch committee or a branch education team meeting)

RATEGY T S IP H S E IC T N E R P P A L A DEVELOPING A LOC branch’s role in apprenticeships and the


g about to increase understandin The aim of this session is supporting them.

– make a note d any questions they have an ips sh ce nti pre ap t ou y know ab 1 Ask everyone what the art. nticeships of these points on a flipch ips using the TUC’s Appre sh ce nti pre ap ty ali qu h nts of hig 2 Introduce the key eleme (see panel). Toolkit and UNISON guide by one of these themes: room, each one headed the d un aro s art ch flip r 3 Distribute fou • negotiation issues; t; • mentoring and suppor • equality issues; on, then give • keeping track. group a flipchart to start ch ea e giv d an s up gro r into fou the guidance to 4 Divide the participants flipcharts. Check back to er oth to ts en mm co ir d the everyone the chance to ad ints are all covered. draft branch make sure that the key po s you will include as your int po ich wh up gro ole wh ree as a t key actions to 5 Using the flipcharts, ag h committee), and set ou nc bra l ful the by d ve pro be ap strategy (this will need to take forward.


SIX BOOK CHALLENGE UNISON branches throughout the country are taking part in the Six Book Challenge, which encourages people to read six books and record their reactions in a reading diary. There are no restrictions on the type of books members read – cookery books, graphic novels, DIY guides, even bedtime stories for children and grandchildren all count.

Take part in the

Six Book Challenge



CASE STUDY Discovering the joy of Six Over 80 members of staff at De Montfort University signed up to take part in the Six Book Challenge when the UNISON branch lifelong learning team launched the initiative at the beginning of 2011. The Challenge is an initiative from The Reading Agency which encourages people to read six books of any kind and record their reactions in a reading diary in order to gain incentives, the chance to enter a national prize draw and a certificate when they finish. While the branch opened the Challenge to all staff (Vice-Chancellor Dominic Shellard was one of the first to join up, calling it “a superb initiative”), the lifelong learning team prioritised supporting and encouraging emergent and less confident readers. The branch opened and stocked bookswap


libraries in the various faculty buildings onsite, in addition to the Quick Reads library it had already established for post and porterage and cleaning staff with the help of 100 new books supplied by the university’s HR Training and Development Unit. It also ran occasional lunchtime book-swaps on campus to help people choose titles to read. “Reading is enjoyable, we need to help people get into the habit of reading, and hopefully we can cultivate a passion here at DMU for picking up and enjoying a book,” commented union learning rep Andrew Jennison. The branch also organised lunchtime readings with Leicester writers, including Asian teenage fiction author Bali Rai and fantasy writer Tabbie Browne, to help keep reading in the forefront of people’s minds during the Challenge.

I gave one of the Quick Reads to my daughter and she’s reading another book now – I thought she’d never read a novel De Montfort University branch member

Andrew Jennison

THE KNOWLEDGE Who’s the target audience? The Six Book Challenge is primarily aimed at encouraging people to get into reading for the first time but it is suitable for absolutely everyone. How long does it take? Usually six months: you can arrange regular reading group meetings with participants (eg, every fortnight) to help them stay motivated and involved. How much does it cost? Make sure you work with your local library so that readers can borrow the books they want to read instead of having to buy them. Library staff will provide practical help and support to help you run the Challenge (eg, promoting the initiative in the workplace, helping trace books that may be unavailable in shops, inviting local authors to visit workplaces). Working with The Reading Agency, your library and your employer will help reduce the initial publicity costs to promote the Challenge. How many members can take part? The Challenge works with any number of participants. Where can you get the materials you need? Your local library and The Reading Agency.



FIND OUT MORE To find out how to run the Six Book Challenge in your workplace, visit the website:


HUMAN LIBRARIES The Human Library is designed to promote dialogue, challenge prejudice and encourage understanding by enabling people to come together for one-to-one conversations about their lives. UNISON has been training members in the North-West to attend Human Library events in the region where they can tell their personal stories to people from different backgrounds from their own by making themselves available for informal conversations.

They might be younger or older than you; from a race, faith or cultural background not your own; have a different sexuality; or a story to tell about bullying

CASE STUDY This is my life Picture this: you visit your local library, but instead of choosing a book from the shelves you ‘borrow’ a person from a list of who’s available. They might be younger or older than you; from a race, faith or cultural background not your own; have a different sexuality; or a story to tell about bullying, domestic violence, or their experience as a migrant. You can then spend 20 minutes or so listening to what they have to say, and ask questions about anything you’re unclear about. It’s a simple, practical and affordable way to promote tolerance and understanding, originally conceived of in Denmark a decade ago and now a phenomenon worldwide. UNISON has staged more than 20 events in the North-West at which a wide range of members trained to tell their personal stories


have offered themselves out ‘on loan’ to interested participants. Talking one-to-one about what it means to be a Muslim, or facing prejudice because of a disability, or living with HIV, or surviving domestic violence helps shatter the kind of preconceptions and prejudices we all carry and improves understanding about the diverse make-up of our local communities. The Human Library approach is win-win. The ‘reader’ has the chance to listen to someone with very different life experiences talk about themselves; the ‘book’ gets the chance to boost their confidence and self-esteem, is trained to develop their speaking skills, and can be signposted on to other leaning opportunities as a result.


THE KNOWLEDGE Who’s the target audience? Work colleagues, local community, schools. How long do you need? Human libraries usually last between two and six hours. How much do they cost? Human Library events are free and no one is ever paid for taking part (you may wish to offer travel expenses to ‘books’). Working with your local library and local council and other organisations can reduce the costs of publicity and promotion. Who runs a Human Library event? ULRs can take the lead in putting the event together, working in partnership with local libraries and other organisations. ULRs or regional education staff can also run the training course for ‘books’. How many people take part? Ideally, you should aim to recruit and train at least eight ‘books’ to ensure there is a variety of stories available. The number of ‘readers’ is down to you and your partner organisations. What sort of venue do you need? Events are usually held in public libraries; community centres can be used as well.

The Human Library approach is win-win. The ‘reader’ has the chance to listen to someone with very different life experiences talk about themselves; the ‘book’ gets the chance to boost their confidence and self-esteem

FIND OUT MORE For a full comprehensive guide to running a Human Library, please download the guide (which UNISON contributed to) from: You should register your Human Library event on this website as well. UNISON’s own training course materials are available on the LAOS website.


LITERACY AND NUMERACY TASTERS You can help people find out about their literacy levels through short online tests they could take in a relaxed lunchtime session, free from the pressures that can sometimes prevent people from developing their English skills. And you can build people’s linguistic confidence by showing them how they can read English written hundreds of years ago with the help of a 15th century poem.


You can build people’s linguistic confidence by showing them how they can read English written hundreds of years ago

y levels, discuss their literacy and numerac of t tes e lin on ort sh a rm to perfo ay course from This taster allows members You could run the full one-d lls. ski ir the lop ve de to they’d like their results and decide if rk on this issue. like to do more in-depth wo u’d yo if ) On ve Mo d lle which it’s taken (ca ss any couple of minutes to discu a e on ery ev e giv d an , rticipants y and numeracy. 1 Introduce Move On to pa choice mini-tests in literac le ltip mu e lin on the ing out tak questions or anxieties ab ir own personal improve their skills for the ers mb me ng lpi he to d committe ts simply 2 Explain that UNISON is t on at work. The mini-tes ge m the lp he to as ll we nce as e else will know development and confide en a pass or fail and no-on giv be n’t wo y the – at rs are identify what level learne what their results are. ts should take uter version. The mini-tes mp co the e us ) ble ssi po ts or (if 3 Hand out the paper tes tes. between 15 and 30 minu used paper tests, out next steps. If you have ab e vic ad er off d an ns questio ere to go next. 4 Be prepared to answer order to direct learners wh in r ute mp co a o int ers answ you will need to enter the tyourskills.asp


The aim of this course is to provide an interesting ins ight into how the English over the centuries. language has developed 1 Print out copies of ‘I syn g of a mayden’, a widely admired short anonymou century. The style is typica s poem from the 15th l of Middle English, the do mi na nt for m of the English language du Middle Ages. ring


2 Introduce the poem an d explain that the aim of the exercise will be to tra English. It may help peop nslate it into modern le if you explain the poem is ab ou t the Bib le story of the angel Gabri telling Mary that she was el to become the mother of Jes us . Sh ow ho w ‘syng’ in Middle English ‘sing’ in modern English becomes : invite people to find sim ilar examples elsewhere ‘kynges’ and ‘stylle’). Show in the po em (eg, ‘mayden’, how the final e in ‘Aprylle’ is dropped in modern En find similar examples (eg gli sh : invite people to , ‘here’, ‘sone’, ‘dewe’). Sh ow how ‘fallyt’ became ‘fa English and invite partic lle th’ in 16th century ipants to find other instan ces of similar consonants as ‘th’ (eg, ‘moder’). The tha t we no w pronounce only really difficult word is ‘makeles’ which mean s ‘matchless’. 3 Divide participants into small groups to translate the poem into modern En for the best version. Give glish. Offer a small prize them around 30 minutes . 4 Go through the poem line by line to see how the groups got on. Congratula Circulate or display the sta te the winning group. ndard modern English tra nslation. 15th century English Modern English I syng of a mayden that is makeles, I sing of a maiden that is kyng of alle kynges to he matchless, re sone che ches. King of all kings for her so n she chose. He came also style ther his moder was He came as still where his as dew in aprylle, that fal mother was lyt on the gras. As dew in April that falls on the grass. He cam also stylle to his moderes bowr He came as still to his mothe as dew in aprille, that fallyt r’s bower on the flour. As dew in April that falls on the flower. He cam also stylle ther his moder lay He came as still where his as dew in Aprille, that fallyt mother lay on the spray. As dew in April that falls on the spray. Moder and mayden was neuer non but che – Mother and maiden there wel may swych a lady Go was never, ever one but sh des moder be. e; Well may such a lady God’s mother be. There’s a more detailed origins of English session plan included in Learning for everyone: tut or notes, available from


FLEXILEARN FlexiLearn is a new partnership between UNISON and The Open University that enables ULRs to run sessions that give members and potential members a taste of learning that’s directly relevant to the job they do. And it’s available in three easy-to-use models – FlexiLearn Bites, FlexiLearn Workshops and Flexilearn Podcasts. Unlocking the power of the net In partnership with The Open University (OU), UNISON has embarked on an exciting new project called FlexiLearn that aims to bring together the web’s power to access unlimited knowledge with UNISON and the OU’s expertise in collective learning. By offering a varied menu including bites, workshops and podcasts, we hope to widen access to learning, get UNISON members opportunities for continuing professional development and engage with employers to help develop learning partnerships. Bite sessions will be short and could involve ULRs running short discussions at workplaces linked to films and questions which provide an introduction to particular subjects. The project is busy testing these ideas in a range of workplaces. The OU has a large library of free educational films which are available on iTunesU, and a range of taster sessions available for free in OpenLearn. Please take a look at the range of material on offer. We have successfully run short single session, half-day and one-day workshops on CPD subjects for classroom assistants and health support workers. They have covered issues such as positive attitudes


to mental health, the developing role of classroom assistants, confidence building, conflict management, dealing with death and dying, personalisation and introduction to counselling skills. These workshops are all staffed by OU teachers.

UNISON members get opportunities for continuing professional development and we engage with employers to help develop learning partnerships We are also investigating the use of podcasts in educational work. The OU provides a number of podcasts in different formats and we are experimenting with their use as the basis for discussion sessions and for interactive on line learning of different sorts. First signs are very positive. FlexiLearn will provide a variety of flexible, high quality resources and learning offers which can be used in different ways to stimulate learning and help keep workers updated. The web will be central to its success.

FIND OUT MORE To find out more, visit


1 To source the film, open iTunes, go to the iTunes Store and select iTunesU Featured providers and cli . Scroll down to ck on Open University. Fro m the lis t of topics, select Health & Medicine, then select Int roducing Health Science s; the n ch oo se the video ‘Case study: Road Traffic Accident’. 2 Run the film using a co mputer with an internet connection and a projec 3 Ask participants some tor if available. questions to get them thi nk ing ab ou t the film they’ve watched. • Do ambulance workers get credit for the job the y do ? • What level of training is involved? • Is anyone interested in becoming a paramedic? • What are the issues ab out this work and the wo rk of the rest of the medic 4 As at any taster session al team? , point people in the direc tio n of fur the r courses. The OU will be able to give you advice on this. You can contact your loc al reg ion al centre to discuss your plans with one of the loc al staff tutors and get the ir ad vic e on the most appropriate OU courses for your group. For courses around param edic sciences, the first co urse will be the Opening Understanding health (Y1 s course 78). There are also a numb er of ap pro priate Level 1 courses su as Introducing health sci ch ences: a case study appro ac h (SD K1 25 ), Molecules, medicines drugs: a chemical story (SK and 185) and a range of short courses that focus on the understanding and mana gement of long-term cond itions.


MIGRATION WORKSHOP ULRS can use the short interactive sessions created by UNISON and CITIZENS for Sanctuary to help participants gain a balanced view of the asylum system and the people who use it. Taking part in the whole course will help members and potential members understand how the asylum system works, access first-hand accounts of life as a refugee and question preconceived ideas about people seeking asylum.

THE KNOWLEDGE Who’s the target audience? Anyone interested in finding out more about how society works. Can ULRs run the sessions? Yes – so long as they take the time to study all the material beforehand. ULRs can pick and choose which exercises to run to take account of the time they have available and their confidence with particular issues, but participants get the most out of the full course. How long do sessions take? The four CITIZENS for Sanctuary courses take around 90 minutes each – they can be run individually or over the course of a whole day. Do I need any special materials? Flipchart, paper, pens, marker pens, a laptop, projector and wipe board (if possible). There’s a more detailed migration workshop session plan included in Learning for everyone: tutor notes, available from


FIND OUT MORE CITIZENS for Sanctuary campaigns on behalf of people feeing persecution

RRIERS A B E H T N W O D G IN K A E BR ledge of the minutes to test their know n ten and give them no more tha irs pa o int nts ipa rtic pa nship. Divide after gaining British citize try un co s thi to de ma ve contribution refugees ha

n for? s the UK provided protectio ee QUESTION 1 ug ref en be far s thu ve Nobel Prize for Science ha How many winners of the (c) 49 (b) 11 (a) 2 QUESTION 2 y? the odd one out and wh position Which of the following is Miliband, Leader of the Op Ed (b) on nd Lo of r sopher (a) Boris Johnson, Mayo rl Marx, 19th century philo Ka (d) st ho ow sh at (c) Jerry Springer, US ch QUESTION 3 refugees? tions were not created by titu ins h itis Br ing low fol Which of the (b) fish and chips (a) Morris Minor cars (d) English breakfast tea (c) Marks & Spencer’s icester between QUESTION 4 dan Asian refugees in Le an Ug by d ate cre en be ated to have How many jobs are estim 1972 and 2002? (c) 20,000 (b) 15,000 (a) 30,000 rding to QUESTION 5 fied doctors in 2008, acco ali qu y all dic me as ed refugees were record Approximately how many Refugee Council? dical Association and the Me h itis Br the by d ile mp statistics co (c) 500 (b) 250 (a) 1,200

Answers of refugees. 1 (c) er three are descendents w Izmir) at the England, whereas the oth to gee refu community of Smyrna (no an ek rm Gre Ge a the s m fro fled o 2 (d) Marx wa wh , nis igo der Iss 0 by Jewish refugee s designed by Sir Alexan opened in London in 186 s wa p sho p chi 3 (d) The Morris Minor wa and fish first War in 1922. The world’s end of the Greco-Turkish rks Ma l hae gee Mic Joseph Malin. Polish refu ncer in 1884. Spe & rks Ma co-founded 4 (c) 5 (a)


ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP Helping members and potential members use the internet to find out about their local MP helps encourage them to think about the issues that concern them and how to get their voices heard in contemporary political discussion and debate. When people engage with their elected representatives, they usually feel more empowered as a result.

Encourage learners to think of what issues they would like to contact their MP about and how best to do so to ensure that their voices are heard

THE KNOWLEDGE What’s the aim of the session? To show people how to voice their opinions to their MP. Who’s the target audience? Anyone interested in the democratic process. How long does it take? Around an hour. Who can run the session? A ULR using the guidance notes. What materials do you need? Flipchart and pens, laptop with internet access and a projector (optional), recent editions of the local newspapers, clippings of MP’s parliamentary speeches, biographical information, voting record.


GETTING TO KNOW YOUR LOCAL MP The aim of this sess ion is

to help people find out who their MPs of what issues they are and encourage would like to contac them to think t them about and ho voices are heard. w best to do so to ensure that their 1 Ask participants

to indicate if they kn ow the name of th introduce the webs eir MP on a show of ites www.theywor hands. Then kf or yo u. com or http://fin 2 Show learners ho dyourmp.parliam w to use the search box on www.theywo to reveal details ab to en out their MP/MSP/M ter their postcode LA. Point out the se to their MP. ction where they ca n send a message 3 Using local news paper cuttings and shared knowledge, about your MP: draw out any impo rtant information • political views; • voting record; • personal interest s; • members’ person al dealings with th em(if any). 4 Discuss an issue members wish to ra ise with their MP. Li something you wa st the main points nt the MP to do (eg . Make sure you ha si gn ve a m ot ion, support a Bill, representative). En meet a UNISON courage participant s to compose a sh ort letter or email us ing the key points. UNISON’s guide to campaigning incl udes a section on lobbying and cont uk/acrobat/19308 acting MPs: .pdf There’s a more de tailed active citiz enship session pl tutor notes, availa an included in Le ble from www.uni arning for everyo ne:


WORKING WITH EXTERNAL PROVIDERS These are some of the informal learning activities UNISON branches have run recently – the details of costs should help give you an idea of how much money you’d need to have to run something similar. Course Introduction to Spanish Basic car maintenance Sign language Yoga Zumba

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Number of sessions 10 x 2 hours weekly 6 x 2 hours weekly 8 x 2 hours weekly 10 x 1 hours 10 x 30 minutes

Number of learners 14 learners 10 learners 10 learners 10 learners 10 learners

Cost £840 £500 £750 £430 £220

WHERE TO GO FOR FUNDING While you can run many of the courses and activities in this toolkit for free or at a very low cost, you may need financial help for some informal learning workplace sessions, such as language classes or digital photography courses. This is your guide to the best approaches. 1 Your branch Your branch should be your first port of call when you are looking for support in putting on learning activities. They should be able to cover smaller costs, like stationery, posters, room hire and may have laptops and projectors you can use. The branch committee may be able to allocate a lump sum to support your work, finance permitting. 2 Your employer Some ULRs have secured financial support from their employer to put on informal learning activities, often in the form of match funding whatever their branch is investing. It is always worth contacting your employer to see if they might be willing to support your work. 3 Your region UNISON regions operate a regional pool to support branch development and organising, which can include organising around learning. To find out more, please check your region’s website or contact your regional office (more information from UNISONdirect 0845 255 0845).

4 UNISON Learning and Organising Services UNISON has secured money from the Union Learning Fund in England and equivalent funds in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support learning activity in branches. Funding may be available for branch-based activity to organise around learning. To find out more, please contact your Regional Education Officer or email learning&

Unionlearn has published a toolkit to help union reps and ULRs set up collective learning funds in their workplace, based on successful pilots in the NorthWest and the East Midlands 5 Collective Learning Funds Collective Learning Funds are union-led initiatives to stimulate co-investment by unions, employers and providers in the personal development of the workforce. Unionlearn has published a toolkit to help union reps and ULRs set up collective learning funds in their workplace, based on successful pilots in the North-West and the East Midlands. Order your copy or download a PDF from

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FREE RESOURCES Learning reps can find a wide range of very useful free resources to help them run informal learning sessions. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of what’s available out there: rather, it’s intended to help you get started on activities we know many branches have already found helpful. Adult Basic Skills Resource Centre The Adult Basic Skills Resource Centre offers a range of resources designed to help people improve their maths and English and also provides advice on how to put together a CV. ALISON Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online (ALISON) is a free online learning resource for basic and essential workplace skills that offers a range of interactive multimedia training courses – including IT, English language and skills health and safety. BBC The BBC offers a vast amount of free learning aids on a real range of topics through its websites, from audio and video courses to help with foreign languages through to guides to help people trace their own family history.


Get On Get On provides help to improve people’s confidence with maths and English and offers a range of help. Making The Most Of Your Money ‘Making the most of your money’ is a free, hour-long presentation developed by the Consumer Financial Education Body (CFEB) and delivered in the workplace by specially trained presenters who cover everything from budgeting, borrowing, saving and investing to protecting your family and possessions and saving for retirement. All you need do is generate a minimum of 20 people to attend. To arrange a session, email Maths4Us Maths4Us is a joint initiative between unionlearn, NIACE and the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) to encourage people to tackle numeracy, take up numeracy learning and have fun with maths.

To raise awareness among your colleagues about the importance of maths, download a free Numeracy Taster Workshop from the Resources section of the Maths4Us website. Myguide Myguide is designed to help people take their first steps with computers and the internet. Registered users get access to an easy-to-use email system and a wide range of online courses. Pensions Advisory Service: Workplace and Communities Service The Pensions Advisory Service runs free workplace workshops offering information and advice on general pension issues, and will tailor the presentation to best suit the needs of the audience. Sessions, which can be hosted by your branch or run jointly with your employer, work best with between 15 and 20 people. To arrange a talk, please contact enquiries@

Salsa DVD UNISON East Sussex Area Branch has produced a DVD with two local dance instructors providing people with a step-bystep introduction to Salsa. Request your copy by emailing learning& SMOG Calculator The Smog (Simplified Measure Of Gobbledygook) Calculator is a free resource that helps to show you how readable your documents are. You can also download a free readability leaflet that offers advice on how to write clearly and communicate effectively. Vimeo Video School For anyone looking to make short video clips, Vimeo Video School offers a range of free tutorials with helpful tips from other users from the basics for beginners through to more advanced techniques. 49

CONTACTS To find out more about UNISON and how to join contact UNISONDirect on 0845 355 0845 Textphone users FREEPHONE call 0800 0 967 968 Lines open from 6am – midnight Monday to Friday, 9am – 4pm Saturday Or visit our website To contact Learning and Organising Services, email learning& For details of your regional education team, visit your UNISON regional website

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many thanks to all the ULRs, librarians and UNISON education staff whose advice and help proved invaluable in the preparation of this toolkit. Elizabeth Bullen, Sarah Coyne, Carina Crawford-Rolt, Shelley Fleming, Jenny Ford, Andrew Givan, Cass Heywood, Ricky Hopkins, Eddy Hornby, Caroline Hunt, Andrew Jennison, Bob Johnson, Martin Lawson, Lou Lucas, Lesley Marlor, Jane Mathieson, Alan Marriott, Hazel Marsh, Felicity Mendelson, Natalie Mullins, Vicky O’Brien, Joanne Rust, Tracey Thompson, Marie-Therese Widger, Craig Young.


To find out more and how to join contact: UNISONdirect TELEPHONE 0845 355 0845 textphone users FREEPHONE 0800 0 967 968 Lines open 6am – midnight Monday to Friday; 9am – 4pm Saturday Or visit our website


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A ULR toolkit for developing informal learning at work