Having a go in Castleford

As a Learning Centre we like to engage with all national learning events we can. This is because it gives us extra resources and gives us a focus that we can add to our everyday Usdaw learning offer.


We became aware of ‘Have a Go Month’ in June when it was being promoted by Festival of Learning and the Learning and Work Institute. It’s worth quoting the Learning and Work Institute website. It says:

Learning benefits not just the individual but also their families, their communities, their employer, and the wider economy. But one million fewer adults are learning than five years ago and many say that they aren’t interested in developing their skills, that they feel too old or don’t have the confidence to learn something new."

These are some of the reasons behind all Lifelong Learning and it fits well with our own campaign so it was no surprise to me that we agreed to support it when we discussed it at the learning steering meeting. We decided to run events throughout June. They would be small chunks of learning that could be done in a couple of minutes but could lead onto further learning, either in the centre, or signposting to an outside opportunity. This also minimised disruption to the business

We split June up into four weeks, giving each week a base topic that was part of USDAW priority learning. We had Maths and IT in weeks one and two, random events in week three, and some English events in week four.

Each of our ULRs has a specialist area to lead on, so when planning, we matched the ULRs to their subject area. Our thinking behind the areas is that a ULR that may struggle with a certain area will understand the difficulties a potential Learner will have when learning.

We sourced most of our resources from the internet but added other things where we thought they would help. We also wanted to offer learning through Gamification – learning through games. We have tried this before and found that it worked well when there might have been opposition to break time being used. Some examples are:

  • Horse racing for mathematics, through betting returns, worked well with downloaded Race night horse races, and printed betting slips with an amount to work out against the odds.
  • Scrabble and hidden literacy and numeracy, always works well, even with the letter gods conspiring to some rude words!
  • Poker and the probability of hands being dealt was another hidden maths activity.

These were particularly well visited, only after people had taken part was the benefit explored and explained, this surprised many.

We also included Code breaking and Semaphore, code breaking gave us the opportunity to get some puzzles out as handouts, Semaphore was used to order waiter service drinks. Mindfulness featured in a few different days, Watercolour miniatures, Origami, Food Tasting and Breathing.

Our language activities included Poetry, Non-verbal communication with Sign language and Makaton. We were handed a boost with Usdaw Bitesize courses this time being around English word usage and grammar, after two of the previous competitions yielding site winners we gave this a day to signpost its availability.

Have a Go month events reached over 1500 staff on site who took information for later use, with over 70 taking time out of their breaks to engage with the learning on offer. I think it helped us to engage with staff and learners in a positive way. The differing events have been good to hook people in to things they wanted to learn a bit more about, and they could access through our USDAW learning centre.

Games, fun and free food will always satisfy; learning can be hidden but that’s still learning though.

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Sean Dixon

Sean Dixon is the Usdaw Learning Centre co-ordinator at DHL Castleford.

He has worked tirelessly to promote workplace learning - even appearing on the BBC to highlight the benefits of workplace reading groups.