Adrian Prins, a Union Learning Rep with the Communication Workers Union tells FE News about how he went from poacher to gamekeeper at Chester Royal Mail. 

It’s 10th of July and here I am celebrating my graduation from Manchester Metropolitan University via West Cheshire College with a Certificate in Education, in the striking Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. The reality still has not fully sunk in yet, me Adrian Prins, a graduate! Like most adults I had a very bad experience with the education system, I used to dwell on that a lot, but then realised that I controlled my future (took me years to conclude that, quick on the uptake, I think not).

 

So, rewind two years to a highly nervous student enrolling upon a degree course. As we do the usual introductions, it becomes apparent that virtually everyone is already employed as a tutor/teacher or other professional and this Communication Workers Union Union Learning Rep (ULR) is starting to feel a bit nervous – no, make that very nervous.

I need not have worried as our tutor, Marie Thompson, was very good and she taught me a lot. I would be a liar if I painted a rosy time, as it is very challenging; I nearly gave up in August 2007. But, I was brought up never to quit, and when I spoke to Marie, we worked out the issues.

When I became a ULR I realised that I was not the only one who had been mistreated by the educational system and with this new role I could see the opportunities for people to be supported by a proven system of Trade Union education, it has worked with training reps so why not members?

But it wasn’t just me who put the effort in, my family didn’t get off lightly either and my wife Tracey, son Michael, my Dad and Sean and Jane all played a part. I was also supported at work by Martin (Maca) McNally Lead ULR at Chester Royal Mail, as well as my two CWU Project Workers, Ray Atkinson and Kim Johnson. And if I am going the whole hog of an Oscar speech, then I want to thank everyone connected with my course. Your support was invaluable.

My message is this, you have a wealth of support available to you with a ULR, regardless of trade union affiliation, use them and your union. Although that is what they are there for, ultimately it is you that do the work. So for the 30+ amongst us who remember the BBC kids programme "Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead?" [1]

I did!

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