From education to employment

Ann Duffy hasn”t stopped learning since she trained as a Union Learning Rep to help run the Brinkb

Ann Duffy was working part time in a Newcastle library when her UNISON branch secured unionlearn’s Union Learning Fund (ULF) backing to set up the Brinkburn Learning Centre.

“I decided to train as a ULR and I”ve never looked back since! The Brinkburn Centre, the heart of one of one of the biggest workplace learning projects in the country, is run in partnership with Newcastle City Council. Thousands of members of all the local authority unions have benefited from a wide range of programmes including numeracy, literacy, IT and National Vocational Qualifications.

The centre now acts as the hub for a number of work-based Learning Zones supported by ULRs. I began running IT courses and Information and Guidance (IAG) awareness sessions for ULRs at the centre and then decided to do a teaching qualification to enable me to teach as well. I completed a City & Guilds 7407 Stage 1 and 2, went on to the Certificate in Education, and then embarked on a full degree in Post-Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) with Northumbria University ““ all in the space of four years.

I now work as a member of the Learning Council Team at the Council and am on the final year of my PCET degree course. As well as working, carrying out my ULR role and studying for a degree, I have also completed my IAG Level 3 & 4 NVQs and qualified as a NVQ Assessor. As well as teaching IT in the learning centre, where I support people with Skills for Life learning up to Initial Assessment, I signpost people to other sources of help and learning. Working in a learning environment had been a great help because I was able to achieve my IAG qualifications mostly in work time. It has been hard work but worth it. If I hadn”t become a ULR and been in the right place to take up the secondment to help run the learning centre, none of this might have happened.”

Ann Duffy, union learning rep, Brinkburn Learning Centre

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