Celebrating champions in our colleges – A guest blog post by Maxine Young

On Friday 10 February, UNISON is celebrating Champions in our Colleges day.

On Friday 10 February, UNISON is celebrating Champions in our Colleges day. The day is a chance to celebrate all support staff who work tirelessly to make the colleges in our region safe, supportive and effective places to learn. Maxine Young, UNISON’s National’s Vice Chair of Further Education Committee and representing FE on the Service Group Executive tells us about her role and the roles of other UNISON members in further education, and why they deserve recognition. 

Throughout the colleges, there are so many roles that go unrecognised but without them, the college could not survive. Without college enrolment teams, there would be no students to support, they work tirelessly to ensure we have enough students enrolled and on the correct courses.  Student Services are always busy ensuring that all students’ needs are met, ensuring that advice and guidance are given to all students.  Wellbeing Advisors are always on hand for students who need emotional and wellbeing support, working with the Personal Development Coaches, to ensure that all students are happy, healthy and have the support they need. 

As a Work Placement Officer in Foundation Learning, my job is to find work placements for learners with additional needs.  These can range from learners with autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome and many other conditions.  Once I find the learners a work placement, I then undertake health and safety checks, as well as monitor their progress and attendance.  I enjoy my job in the college, although it can be quite stressful at times.  In addition to my job role, I have been working as a Personal Development Coach, teaching tutorials with my learners.  This can make my job quite difficult at times, due the amount of teaching hours, but enjoyable at the same time as I am working with the learners in lessons.  

FE colleges have many roles that go unrecognised throughout their workforce.  Learning Support Assistants work very hard with limited breaks, they are there for the learners throughout the day and deal with many issues.  They are the members of staff that learners go to when they need help or if they are struggling with anything, emotionally or physically and they are there for learners when they have their breaks when they first come into college.  They are very low paid yet do so much work for the good of the learners they work with, without them students would struggle a lot more than they already do, they are a constant support for the students.  The Special Educational Needs Department Advisors are also a constant support for the students. They work many hours, ensuring that our learners have the best possible support when in college, as well as ensuring that all their needs are met within a students educational healthcare plans.  Without them, learners with additional needs would not get the support they require.  

The staff in colleges, do it because they care about the students and want all students to have a bright future. It is time we recognise the hard and valuable work support staff do within FE. They really are champions in our colleges.  

Maxine Young

UNISON National Further Education Vice Chair