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Getting active as a Union Learning Representative (ULR)

The Union Learning Representative is a trained union member who promotes learning within the workplace and supports those members interested in learning or who are undertaking a learning activity. The NASUWT believes that skilled, well-rewarded and highly motivated teachers are ideally placed to promote the value of lifelong learning. The Union is proud to actively promote lifelong learning for both the personal and professional development of teachers.

The ULR role, like that of health and safety representative, is recognised in law and detailed advice on rights and facilities can be found in the latest ACAS Code of Practice. Your Local Association and Local Secretary should also be able to advise and support you, with additional support from your NASUWT National/Regional Centre.
Union Learning Representatives should undergo training within six months of being appointed to the role. The NASUWT has developed its own training courses (Stage 1 and Stage 2) which are free to members. Your employer is obliged to offer you reasonable paid time off to undertake such training but if you are unsure of your rights, please contact your local NASUWT Regional Centre for advice.

ULR Conference, June 2009

This video is embedded from the NASUWT's YouTube channel. You may have difficulty viewing it if you have filters blocking the site.


As well as time off for training to carry out this role, employers should provide reasonable time off. You should also be given reasonable access to practical support. For example, a private room to meet members, telephone, notice boards and other office equipment.

Union Learning Representatives have similar legal rights to paid time off to carry out their duties as other union representatives. A number of schools already recognise the value of having a member of staff who can broker learning and development opportunities. Many local authorities have signed formal Learning Agreements, recognising the value of the ULR role. The NASUWT expects those provisions afforded to Learning Representatives to be broadly similar to those afforded to other union representatives within your school or college.

Key Points

The role and statutory duties of a ULR are detailed within the revised ACAS Code of Practice as:

  • Analysing learning or training needs.
  • Providing information and advice about learning or training matters.
  • Arranging learning or training.
  • Promoting the value of learning or training.
  • Consulting with the employer about carrying out such activities.
  • Preparing to carry out any of the above activities.
  • Undergoing relevant training.


“Time off for trade union duties and activities - including guidance on time off for union learning representatives”

ACAS Code of Practice 3, January 2010

Useful Links

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