Stars in Our Schools - Supported by the Learning and Development Team

The Regional Learning Team was on hand to support these fantastic events and showcase our member learning offer and discuss with schools what training Unison can offer in partnership with the Open University.

At St. Cuthberts, the children celebrated their support staff at a special assembly with parents and the community. The whole school listened intently to poems and songs written and performed by the children, with messages of thanks and appreciation for the work they do. All the staff got involved, wearing superhero costumes in recognition of the work of the unsung heroes in our schools today.

The Headteacher praised the incredible level of pastoral care shown by the school support staff who were all given special thanks and awards. Local MP Jeff Smith and the Director of Education for Manchester were both present to thank the staff for the work they do to make schools tick and keep the children safe and cared for.

Down the road at nearby secondary Manchester Academy, Labour frontbencher Lucy Powell MP was present to thank the support staff who were given the afternoon free for a well earned break, massage and buffet lunch (and of course to hear about Unison's member learning offer and how they can get involved!).

Events took place at over 30 schools in the Manchester area.

A further celebration day is to be held at Sacred Heart in Blackburn on the 4th December. The Regional Learning Team will again be on hand to promote Learning in Unison and to support the celebration of the work of our dedicated members.








Celebrating the unsung heroes




Local MP Jeff smith celebrates support staff



Learning with Unison







Skills apps developed by UnionLearn for members to develop their skills at home and in work




Become a Union Learning Rep




Even Spiderman says so












Unison Assistant Branch Secretary Cath Baggaley, Lucy Powell MP and Executive Principal Andy Griffin






And the Survey said ...


A Survey of Stewards and their Mentors November 2015

It has been UNISON policy now for over three years that branches should arrange for all new stewards to be allocated a named contact/mentor when they are first elected. The purpose of the contact/mentor role is to lend support and development to the new steward. Training in how branches should attempt this task is given in the Regional Leadership School, the Branch Officer Development Programme and our 2 day Mentoring in UNISON course. In these difficult times for branches it is another layer of tasks which need to addressed amongst all the others and we thought it right to ask our stewards now about their experiences of mentoring to check what progress has been made.

Stewards with the activist code 9 were emailed. There are currently around 800 9s of which around 700 have email addresses as part of their contact details on RMS. The 700 were first emailed on 16 Nov’15, around 30 messages bounced back as undeliverable. Making the total number contacted around 670. 46 responded to the first email. A second reminder email was sent one week later and a further 42 responded – a respondent rate of around 13%, low but with statistical value.

  1. 50% of respondents had more than a year in post and around a quarter of these had had a mentor allocated to them. Of the 50% of respondents who had less than a year in post the share of those allocated a mentor rose to half. Overall 30% of respondents had been allocated a mentor and 70% had not. Survey participants came from the following branches:


  • Blackpool
  • Blackpool Health
  • Bolton
  • Burnley
  • Bury
  • Calderstones Health
  • Cumbria
  • Cumbria Health
  • East Lancashire Health
  • Isle of Man
  • Knowsley
  • Lancashire
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Manchester Community Health
  • Oldham
  • Pennine Acute Health
  • Preston
  • Salford
  • Sefton
  • Sefton Health
  • South Manchester Health
  • South Ribble
  • Stockport
  • United Utilities
  • Wirral
  1. The subjects respondents wanted more information on or support with were
    1. Talking to members
    2. How the Branch Committee works
    3. The structures in the wider UNISON
    4. Handling cases
    5. Needing someone generally as a sounding board
    6. What happens to the subscription money

There are around 1800 ERA certified stewards on RMS currently and it is our intention to conduct a similar survey with them in the new year.


ULR Regional Forum at Merseylearn, Liverpool

Over 20 ULRs and branch education officers from the region came together to discuss the inclusive learning agenda at our regional forum last Friday at Merseylearn.

Numeracy and literacy consultant Julie Mooney introduced the day with an introduction to dyslexia awareness which affects millions of people in Britain today. Julie explained how dyslexia is seen as a problem or label, but in fact there are positives to having dyslexia. People with dyslexia are creative thinkers, problem solvers, they are artists and scientists. Workplaces can become more dyslexia friendly by applying simple structural adjustments such as changing the colour of paper to ease reading, and simple changes to job descriptions to play on strengths, not weaknesses. ULRs expressed interest in attending a stage 2 reps development course around dyslexia awareness.

Julie illustrated the impact of supporting reading initiatives in the workplace with her story of a man she had mentored in work to read and write from scratch using a basic reading framework. One night Julie received a phone call from him, "I've just read to my Grandson for the first time." Such is the power of the union learning rep.

IMG_20151120_105441.jpg   Julie's dyslexia awareness presentation


Bob Kelly from the Trades Union Education Department at Wirral Met College explained how training and apprenticeships have evolved over the course of the last century. Trade unionists responded to the introduction of NVQs by supporting members completing the necessary paperwork for the new qualifications, hence the introduction of learning reps of which over 30 000 have been trained. Bob explained how statistics don't tell the full story, you can say there were x number of reps trained, y number achieved level 2 literacy and so on, but it's more difficult to quantify life changing conversations between ULRs and members. For some, the first time anybody has told them they 'can do' is when speaking to a learning rep. Bob also highlighted how the learning agenda supports the equalities agenda and union organisation, "What other union meeting has 80% women attending?" said bob as he pointed out the gender balance in the room.

IMG_20151120_120827.jpg Bob's engaging history lesson, in quiz form


Jane Eyre from Blackpool Health reported on events that she and her colleagues Bev and Danielle have been involved in at the hospital. 12 months ago, they decided they wanted a learning agreement with the hospital, it took 7 months and eventually they got there. Jane told us that the key is 'tenacity', keep on going back until they get fed up of you! Jane highlighted some of the on-going problems around some course turnouts and a lack of support for some in management positions. But she also reported many successes around member learning and that they have the support of the Chairman of the hospital, again 'be tenacious'.

IMG_20151120_134544.jpg Jane and the gang, like kool and the gang, but quieter


Emma Lipscombe, national learning organiser, introduced the new literacy and numeracy toolkits for use by ULRs. The numeracy activities are a great way to engage people on learning stalls and informal learning days, and the literacy kit outlines how to launch the Reading Ahead Challenge.

Emma also gave an outline of the national offer for members, there was much excitement around the new 'confidence building' workshop delivered in the new year in partnership with the Open University, following much praise for Your Skills Your Future and Facing Change Together. Members and reps should contact Emma, and the regional office for further details in the new year as this course will likely be very popular.

IMG_20151120_142109.jpg Emma introduces the new toolkits and pretends to be Edna Warwick


Globally Renowned Author Andy McNab at Wirral Unison Launch of Reading Ahead

On November 11th at Birkenhead Library, our Wirral Local Government branch launched literacy initiative Reading Ahead in style with a visit from author Andy McNab.

Andy talked about his experiences as a youngster in Borstal and how he received his education in the Armed Forces alongside many other young recruits:

'I was 16 years of age with the reading age of a 5 year old. The education officer, the teacher, explained to us that we weren't thick, we were just uneducated. This was the first time anybody had said this to us and the impact was huge'. Andy explained how he went on to develop a lifelong commitment to learning through reading and writing, and how reading leads to knowledge which in turn leads to power, the power to transform your life for the better.

Andy launched his new book 'Detonator' and a new 'Quick Read' - short books designed to encourage more reading. Andy also spoke of his charity mission across the north pole starting soon.

Over 50 people attended, with many signing up to the Reading Ahead Challenge - to read 6 books, newspapers or articles within a 6 month period. A celebration event is planned for next year.

UNISON recruited 3 new Union Learning Reps, Carol, Amanda and Diane who are keen to support their colleagues with opportunities to learn through the union.


Attendees listen to introductions from librarian Diane Moore.



Tom Jenkins (Regional Learning Organiser), Tony Norbury (Labour Councillor), Gill Whitfield (Librarian and ULR), Dave Hardcastle (Lifelong Learning Tutor and ULR), Martin Russo (National Learning Organiser)



Regional Learning Organiser Tom Jenkins explains the importance of UNISON's learning agenda and how ULRs can help shape the lives of their colleagues



'We Will Remember Them'



Andy captivating the audience



Councillor Tony Norbury reminded us of the horrors of war both in the past and across the globe today



Andy with librarian Diane Moore. Andy still has to conceal his face for photos due to his days as an S.A.S serviceman

Return to Learn sign up 26th November in Manchester

Return to Learn - Manchester

A great way to get back into learning. Delivered by the Workers Educational Association in partnership with UNISON.

Free to UNISON members . Units include:

English: Essay and Report writing, understanding text (Level 1-3)

Personal Development: CV writing, interview technique

Numeracy (Level 1-2)

IT (Level 1)

Sessions will run every Thursday for 12 weeks. A residential weekend away is included at the end of the course.

The date, venue and time for the first session:

Thursday 26th November 6pm – 8.30pm

UNISON Regional Office, ‘Arena Point’, 1 Hunts Bank, Manchester, M3 1UN (This office is 1 minute from Manchester Victoria Railway Station)

Let me know if you would like to start on the 26th November.

Please contact Tom Jenkins on 07817 121 628

or email  [email protected]

Your Skills Your Future a FREE Course



This is a quick advert for a FREE course for UNISON members – the course will help you

  • find out what you’re really good at and help you to be clear about your current skills and how they could transfer to other occupations
  • maximise your potential
  • think about any gaps you may have in your portfolio and how to get them filled!

If you would like to come along it will run from 9.30-4.30 on the 18th December in Arena Point which is our regional centre at Hunts bank, Manchester M3 1UN, lunch provided. 

Telephone Tom our learning organiser for more info –on 07817121628 – text him with your name and membership number if you would like to attend or email him

[email protected] – please include your UNISON membership number – 

If you are not sure of your membership number phone UNISONdirect FREE on 0800 0857 857 – our operatives are waiting for your call from 6am-Midnight on weekdays and 9-4pm on Saturdays

[email protected]

Learning Reps in UNISON initial basic training offer


Next Learning Rep Course  is 1 day a week for 3 weeks starting 17th February 2016 in Manchester. Talk to Tom for more details 07817121628

OLBA - On line Branch Accounts training


If you need OLBA training - register now on our waiting list for a course in the new year

Development and Support for UNISON Reps November 2015

Please complete our Online Survey mentor_2.png 



Leadership School 6-8 November 2015

Leadership_15.jpgThe Mechanics Institute in Manchester was the venue for this years Regional Leadership School - 35 people attended the event - There were speakers on a variety of topics

  • Jeremy Waddington, Manchester Business School - on the future for UNISON and the Trade Union Bill
  • Joanna Mack - Breadline Britain -
  • Neil McInroy, CLES - Devolution and the Northern power house
  • David Owen - Palestine Educational Institution
  • John Hilary, War on Want - TTIP

Teresa and Dale - two of the delegates Leadership_Teresa_and_Dale.jpg

Join UNISON Get involved in UNISON