TUC Courses (Up to Level 3)

TUC Education provides training for more than 40,000 union representatives, health and safety representatives, and union learning representatives each year.

TUC courses encourage everyone to learn in a friendly, supportive environment, usually in surroundings designated for trade union courses. Courses are offered flexibly to suit the needs of union representatives  through the traditional day release model.

For many reps this is a second chance to learn. A range of learning pathways has been established, offering all reps the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Union reps should also visit Unionlearn for full details of key events, training, features and bulletin board discussions with other reps.                


Overall aims of the programme courses

TUC courses are designed to achieve:

  • improvements in the performance of union representatives at the workplace and in the union
  • greater understanding of trade union policies and priorities
  • enhanced study skills and personal confidence for all those who take part
  • recognition of learning achievements through accreditation
  • personal satisfaction.

The TUC is committed to equal treatment regardless of sex, race, disability, sexuality or age.

The aims of the TUC programme include equal participation by all groups and delivering skills, knowledge and understanding to learners so they can assist all of their members.

The purpose of the programme is to deliver a quality learning experience, with a system of accreditation which points to future learning opportunities and qualifications.


What will I study on the course?

The TUC, in partnership with Ruskin College opened a Trade Union Education Centre in September 2008. The centre offers the following courses for Trade Union Reps, Health and Safety Reps and Union Learning Reps. We would be delighted if you could come and join us. All courses start at 09:30 and finish at 16:30 unless otherwise stated.


Venue: Ruskin College, Stoke House, Stoke Place, Old Headington, Oxford OX3 9BZ
Applications to: Pete Martin, Ruskin College


Courses for 2016



Union Reps Stage 1:

  • 5 Monday evenings (5.30pm – 8.30pm)   starting Monday 1st February – 18th April 2016 (plus online learning)
  • 10 Tuesdays starting Tuesday 2nd February – 12th April 2016

Health and Safety Reps Stage 1:

  • 10 Wednesdays starting Wednesday 3rd February – 13th April 2016

Next Steps for Safety Reps:

  • 10 Thursdays starting Thursday 4th February – 14th April  2016 (modular course)
  • 5 Tuesday evenings (5.30pm – 8.30pm)  starting Tuesday 2nd February – 12th April 2016 (plus online learning)

Certificate in Employment Law

  • 10 Fridays starting Friday 5th February – 15th April 2016

Union Learning Reps Certificate:

  • 10 Thursdays starting Thursday 4th February– 14th April 2016  (Modular course)



Union Reps Stage 1:

  • 10 Mondays starting Monday 25th April - 4th July 2016  (modular course)

Health and Safety Reps Stage 1:

  • 10 Wednesdays starting Wednesday 27th April – 6th July 2016

Next Steps for Safety Reps:

  • 10 Fridays starting Friday 29th April – 8th July 2016

Certificate in Employment Law

  • 5 Monday evenings (5.30pm – 8.30pm)  starting Monday 25th April – 4th July 2016 (plus online learning)
  • 10 Tuesdays starting Tuesday 26th April – 5th July 2016

Union Learning Reps Certificate:

  • 10 Thursdays starting Thursday 28th April – 7th July 2016 (modular course)
  • 5 Tuesday evenings starting Tuesday 5th July  (plus online learning)


How will I learn and be taught on the courses?

TUC Education develops and provides student materials for all TUC courses. These are regularly reviewed, revised and rewritten with the active involvement of practicing trade union studies tutors and TUC policy experts. Evidence of learning achievement is recorded and students receive regular and appropriate feedback.

Time off to learn
Union representatives who wish to attend TUC courses in working time should first ask their employer for time off with pay. The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 section 168 and the Safety Representatives & Safety Committee Regulations 1977 give accredited union and safety representatives a legal right to reasonable time off with pay to attend courses approved by the TUC or their union. Guidance towards establishing what constitutes reasonable time off can be found in the ACAS Code of Practice.

The role of the union learning representative has been boosted by new legal rights to time off for training contained in the Employment Relations Act 2001. Nearly 15,000 union learning representatives have already been trained.

Representatives who find difficulty in obtaining paid time off to attend TUC courses should seek assistance from their senior union representative or full time union officer.

For further information contact your regional education and training officer.


Time off to learn for distance or online learning

Online learning should not be seen as an alternative to paid release from work. The law still applies, whether learning takes place away from work or in work, at a workstation or in a company learning centre. For details of TUC courses that are available online contact Craig Hawkins on 020 7079 6947 or email chawkins@tuc.org.uk

All access needs will be met where reasonably practicable. You should inform the appropriate course providers of any specific requirements at the earliest opportunity.


Who validates these courses?

The TUC accredits its programme through the new Qualification Credit Framework providing clear national recognition of the quality of courses and the achievement of union representatives.

Registration for accreditation is voluntary. There are no tests or examinations. You will build up a file which shows the work you have completed during the course, and National Open College Network (NOCN) awards credits for achieving the learning outcomes for that course’s qualification units, which are recorded on a certificate issued by NOCN.

Credits can be built up over a number of years to gain qualifications and are transferable throughout the country. They can be used to gain access to other courses in further and higher education. They also give unions and employers a clearer view of what representatives have learned and are able to do after attending a TUC course. For further details contact your TUC regional education and training officer.

Admission requirements are that you are a member of a TUC affiliated union, you have been elected to the relevant union position and your application has been approved by your branch.

  • Download the application form (pdf version)
  • Download the application form (word version)
  • Choose a suitable course from the list
  • Ask your employer for paid release from work to attend the course.
  • Fill in your application form, get it approved by your full-time officer or branch and return it to:

TUC Admin, Ruskin College Oxford, Ruskin Hall, Dunstan Road, Old Headington, Oxford OX3 9BZ 
E-mail: tucadmin@ruskin.ac.uk
Tel: 01865 759636
Fax: 01865 759640

All courses are free to members of TUC affiliated unions.