About Learning in Unison

Welcome to Learning and Organising in the North West. These pages are designed to help you find out what’s on offer for members, potential members and active members in UNISON.

Courses for new Stewards, H&S Reps and ERA Refreshers can be found in our  CATALOGUE

There are also new Stewards and H&S Reps and Union Learning Reps courses at the TUC's education website. 


They are also a range of short interactive e-note courses on various topics.  https://www.tuc.org.uk/Interactiveguides

There are also lots of resources at Unison's website you can find the education page here http://learning.unison.org.uk and the Organising Space here 

Organising Space | Key documents and tools for activists | UNISON National 

If you need any further information or support please contact Bob Kelly [email protected]


We have two different types of courses: member learning courses for anyone who is a UNISON member in the North West, and activist courses for UNISON members who hold a position such as a steward or an officer, in their branch. 

Free courses for UNISON members:

If you are a UNISON member and you want to find our what courses we have for UNISON members then please click on the link below to go to the Member Learning part of our website. All our Member Learning courses are free for UNISON members to attend:


Courses for UNISON activists:

We also run activist learning courses. These are for UNISON members who have taken up a role or position in their branch. To find our more about these courses go to our course catalogue.


Making learning happen in UNISON:

There are three branch roles involved with learning that members can be elected for. If you think learning is important, then have a look at the roles below. If you are interest in the roles below contact Bob Kelly - [email protected]/ 0795 750 6031.

Branch education co-ordinator

Helps arrange training courses and education programmes for members, stewards, health and safety reps and branch officers.

The role includes:

  • making sure all new stewards and reps receive information about the branch and their role
  • publicising the range of educational and training opportunities available to members and activists, and making sure that all reps go on appropriate courses
  • talking to existing reps about their on-going training and development needs
  • organising a plan of training for activists and producing an annual budget to meet its costs
  • keeping records of what training has been undertaken and by whom within the branch
  • negotiating with the employer, along with union learning reps on issues relating to learning including time off
  • supporting and co-ordinating the work of buddies and mentors in the branch.

Branch lifelong learning co-ordinator

Works with employers and co-ordinates the work of union learning reps in supporting members with lifelong learning and skills for life.

A branch with a number of union learning reps working as a team, led by a co-ordinator, can ensure:

  • learning representatives are accountable and involved in the branch
  • learning is high on the branch’s agenda and linked into its organising, bargaining and equalities work
  • a clear progression route for learning representatives who want to become more involved in other aspects of branch activity.

The lifelong learning co-ordinator’s role includes:

  • working closely with the branch education co-ordinator (the same person may take on both roles)
  • co-ordinating the activity of union learning reps in the branch education team
  • working with colleagues to recruit and organise new learning representatives
  • being closely involved in negotiating around learning with the employer
  • making sure members have information on learning opportunities, including UNISON Open College courses, Return to Learn and Lifelong Learning
  • making sure the work of learning reps is fully integrated into the branch.

Union learning reps

Union learning representatives, often known as ULRs, are passionate about getting people back into learning. Whether it is professional qualifications or basic numeracy and literacy skills. They:

  • find out how lifelong learning could help to resolve issues at work
  • promote learning in a workplace
  • support members to take up learning opportunities
  • encourage adult learners to be active branch members
  • organise workers around learning
  • support people who want to join UNISON
  • recruit new learning reps

They have some rights to time off for training and carrying out their duties.

‘I have been an Education coordinator for over 3 years for a medium sized branch which covers the whole of the North West. I organise the training for our branch officers, but much wider that this I have found it to be a fantastic role to improve the skills I don’t get in my day job. For example it gives you amazing project management experience, creates opportunities for your branch and I am also managing a budget of £8000. Recently I have organised a bespoke mental health course for 24 members and this resulted in 19 new health and safety representatives for the branch who all focus on mental health, this is an amazing offer to our members. We are just starting to reap rewards from this and members are seeing better reasonable adjustments which are put in place much quicker as a result. I’m just starting to develop an autism and ADHD awareness in the workplace course too. Members tell me what is holding them back and this role gives me an opportunity with my branch to address it. It’s also great for confidence building, creativity and bid writing!’

Anne-Marie Quibell, Education Co-Ordinator, Environment Agency NW Branch.


  • For a list of course titles - check out the CATALOGUE

  • For courses dates – check out the CALENDAR

  • For courses without dates we are holding WAITING LISTS - click on the waiting list button at the bottom of the Calendar pages

For all general course enquiries phone 0161 661 6751 or email North West Learning and Organising

The Learning and Organising Team comprise, John Jones, the Chair of the Regional Learning and Organising Committee, at Arena Point there’s Bob Kelly the Regional Education Organiser, Kim Scott and Gillian Gorman - Course Administrators. Learning and Development Organiser Diana Warren organises courses for members at region and also with branches and liaises with UNISON learning reps.




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