Union learning reps

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Rep Zone
07 February 2017
Learning is a key part of union activity because, through learning events, members can come together and create an involved and relevant union within their schools and colleges. At its very core, union learning reps (ULRs) support and help other members with their continuing personal and professional development.

At both branch and workplace level, this means ULRs work closely with members and management to identify ways to improve access and quality of current provision as well as source new opportunities.

In ATL, there are two main types of ULR: branch and workplace. The main differences between the roles are that a ULR based in the workplace (in either a school or college) tends to work with all staff members and concentrate on working in partnership with the institution's CPD coordinator or committee. Branch-based ULRs concentrate on branch union learning events, working with the local authority and recruiting and supporting school-based ULRs.

The role of workplace-based ULRs

This type of ULR works with members/staff within the school to:

  • promote learning opportunities amongst members at your workplace
  • provide an overall analysis of staff learning needs, both professional and personal, through conducting a learning needs survey
  • give support to members and help them overcome barriers to learning
  • signpost members to other sources of support and advice
  • organise learning or training events
  • build links with other ATL reps
  • recruit non-members to ATL.

ULRs also work with school management to:

  • enhance and support current provision, working with the CPD coordinator/committee
  • suggest a school/college learning agreement
  • help shape staff training days to meet the needs of all education staff through organising taster sessions based on your learning needs analysis
  • share and expand expertise and promote a whole establishment approach to lifelong learning
  • suggest termly meetings to look at staff development, training and lifelong learning, and INSET days within the workplace.

ULRs also work with branches to:

  • build links with the local branch committee
  • build links with branch and other workplace ULRs within your local area.

Workplace-based ULRs also gather information about training providers, etc and collect project information for feeding back to learning organisers.

The role of branch ULRs

Working alongside the branch secretary and committee, a branch ULR:

  • develops and promotes CPD and lifelong learning to all members within their branch
  • mentors new workplace ULRs
  • recruits more workplace ULRs into the branch.

They represent members formally on matters relating to CPD and lifelong learning.

ULR training

Learning reps in schools where ATL has recognition have statutory rights to paid time off to attend courses and to carry out their role. ULRs complete a three-day accredited training course to equip them with the skills and knowledge to fulfill the role. The course covers:

  • the role and rights of the ULR
  • current issues in education
  • principles of CPD and lifelong learning
  • interviewing a colleague
  • performance management
  • building effective partnerships
  • negotiating learning and training.

For more information or to check locations and dates, look at the training section of our website.

Support for ULRs

ATL recognises that starting out in a new role can be daunting. This is why, over the first year of being a ULR, you will receive the support and help of a learning organiser. If you are a workplace ULR, you will also have your branch ULR to act as your mentor at a local level.

Each term you will also receive a copy of Being a rep, our newsletter that features a regular round-up of all the education news relevant to reps together with event information and the latest training and guidance available, as well as lots of other useful features including top tips and best practice stories. You will always be able to download the latest issue from the publications and resources section of our website.

If you are interested in becoming a ULR, contact ATL's learning and development team.