Blog: Getting active in schools – a guest blog by Jane Shortland

My trade union journey began more than 30 years ago and I have never looked back.

I took part in Return to Learn (R2L) that whetted my appetite for not just learning for myself, but also to support other UNISON members through their learning journey. From R2L, I became a Voluntary Education Adviser, then a Lay Tutor, delivering the very course that inspired me to become more active.

Over the years I have been an active steward for school support staff, and more recently, I became Branch Chairperson for South Tyneside Local Government.

I am passionate about school support staff and what they deliver in their workplaces on a daily basis. Schools could not run effectively or safely without such staff.

Through school visits, I have encouraged some school support staff to become workplace contacts with a view to expand their role into becoming fully-fledged stewards.  As a workplace contact and rep you are fully supported: I have meetings with our workplace contacts and stewards, where we share good practice, discuss ongoing areas of concern and feedback from campaigns such as the recent pay ballot.

UNISON is like a second family to me; I have had opportunities that I always thought only happened to other people; a trip to Washington DC to address their school support staff seminars, attended conferences, chaired regional and branch meetings, undertook lots of training and learning courses including Union Learning Rep training.  I am an active member of the Women’s Network, National Schools Forum and was elected as the Region’s Standing Orders Rep for Women’s Conference and I am about to start the Show Racism the Red Card Ambassadors Programme. The possibilities are amazing; they’ve grown me as a person and my confidence has had a boost, too.

If you’ve ever thought about getting more involved – becoming a workplace contact or rep for your school – now is the perfect time to do it! You can speak with your branch officers to find out more or register below.

Get active

Jane Shortland
UNISON South Tyneside LG