With ULR Stage 1 and Stage 2 now available online, more and more ULRs are discovering the benefits of developing their skills at times that suit them.
UNISON learning rep Jacquie Olpin is looking forward to putting into practice everything she’s learning while working her way through the new ULR Stage 2 course online.
Jacquie completed her Stage 1 training on a five-day UNISON course back in 2010, when she first took on the ULR role at Mansfield District Council, where she works as a property surveyor.
But the problem with progressing to Stage 2 was finding the time. Her workload expanded enormously as austerity restricted public sector budgets. And with release time increasingly hard to come by, Jacquie prioritised supporting her members over developing herself.
That’s why doing ULR 2 online made so much sense. Jacquie said:
It’s been great being able to dip in and out: the course is divided into individual modules and within each module there are a number of activities so, because it’s broken down into those bite-sized pieces, it’s very accessible.”
I can do an activity if I can find some time on my lunch break and I can log on again in the evening while the tea is cooking or there’s a lull in the TV so whether it’s nine in the morning, lunchtime or 10 o’clock at night, it’s just perfect to work in those small chunks.”
As an experienced ULR, Jacquie is often familiar with many of the ideas that emerge from the course content or on the discussion forum but she is also coming across good ideas both from the course itself and from other ULRs who are also on the course.
For example, I’ve just done a section on the importance of making sure learning providers have union values and that’s something I’ve never really thought about in all these years – you make the assumption that a big provider like a college is going to be unionised, so that’s something to check in the future.”
Something else that she’s going to put into action as a result of the course is a pensions awareness session.
Now that she has two-thirds of the course under her belt, Jacquie would encourage any other ULR to do Stage 1 or Stage 2 online.
Jacquie summed up saying:
There are so many positives: you’re able to fit it around your day-to-day commitments, the course content is just what you would learn in a classroom, you can still interact with other ULRs online and with the tutor and you’re able to re-read or screenshot anything you find useful – I’m thoroughly enjoying it!”
This story first appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of The Learning Rep