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