MEETING DATE: ITEM NO.
7 December 2011
TITLE OF PAPER: UK L&D Pathway for RCN Curriculum review and review of Role Descriptors
PRESENTED BY Sue Antrobus
1.1 To present the committee with the curriculum review process for the UK Learning and
Development Pathway for RCN Representative.
1.2 To present to the committee the revised versions of the representative role descriptors
as the first stage of the curriculum review process following a 6 month extensive
consultation with a range of stakeholders.
1.3 To seek agreement from the committee on the revised role descriptors.
2.1 As part of the partnership working with Open College Network (OCN), the external
accrediting body for the UK L&D Pathway for RCN Representatives, the curriculum for
the pathway is being reviewed to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and meets the
needs of newly accredited representatives in preparing them for their role.
2.2 The first stage of the process has necessitated a review of the representative role
descriptors –the generic role descriptors and the three specific role descriptors relevant
to each representative role. This is because these role descriptors form the basis on
which the content of the generic (Foundation) module and the specific (Development)
module of the pathway is based. Module content is mapped to each element of the role
descriptor throughout delivery. It is therefore essential that any review of the curriculum
takes into account the fitness for purpose of the role descriptors from which the content
2.3 The curriculum review process for the pathway can be seen at Appendix 1. This is a
two year process: Year 1 involves a UK-wide consultation on the representative role
descriptors; and Year 2 involves making the curriculum changes required to ensure the
pathway continues to prepare representatives for their role based upon the revised role
2.4 The Representing & Influencing L&D Team and Future Activist Programme Leads in the
countries have led a consultation process on the role descriptors throughout the
Summer 2011. The resulting ‘best fit’ versions of the relevant role descriptors are now
being presented for agreement prior to implementation.
3.1 Throughout May – October 2011 the R&I team has consulted with the following
stakeholders on the existing set of representative role descriptors:
UK Representatives’ Committees (Learning Representatives, Safety Representatives
Joint Representatives Conference
UK Learning & Development Facilitators (LDFs)
3.2 The resulting set of representative role descriptors are shown in Appendix 2. These
represent the ‘best fit’ of all feedback received and will be used as the basis for
reviewing the current curriculum for the UK L&D pathway for RCN Representatives.
4 Resources, costs and implications
4.1 The curriculum review cycle is provided by the OCN as part of its existing contract with
4.2 Some funding has been identified in this financial year to support the revision of
resources that might come out of changes to the curriculum.
5.1 All learning and development strands of the Future Activist Programme are required to
develop live risk registers to identify risks and the controls that have been put in place.
5.2 Failure to review the curriculum could result in the pathway becoming out of date and
poorly aligned to the needs of emerging representatives.
6.1 All learning and development strands of the Future Activist Programme develop equality
6.2 All representatives who access the pathway have the opportunity to develop skills and
knowledge around equality and diversity, drawing on the expertise and resources
available within the organisation.
6.3 All representatives who access the pathway have the opportunity to feedback on their
experiences and thereby inform the future development of the curriculum.
7 UK-wide/Four country perspective
7.1 The Future Activist Programme is a UK-wide initiative with all work streams drawing on
the expertise and experience of staff and members across the four countries.
8 Strategic plan
8.1 The Future Activist Programme enables the RCN to meet the following strategic
objectives in the RCN's strategic plan for 2008-2013: 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 4.1, 5.1, 5.3,
5.5, 5.6 and 8.1.
9.1 MRC is asked to:
Note the curriculum review process
Note and agree the revised representative role descriptors
Lead Officers: Janet Davies and Janice Smyth
Originators: Mairead O’Siochru, Di Clarke, Rachel Wood, Ron Elvins and Julia Carter-Meadows
Input from: Sue Antrobus, Ellen Hudson Clare Jenkins, Cathy Pugh, Ann Jackson, Kathy Parker and Debbie
MRC December 2011
Curriculum Review: process, responsibilities and timescales
Two year process for Curriculum Review
Role Descriptor Review Year 1 Responsible Timing
Review of Generic Review of Generic Review of Generic Module Leads Jan-Mar
and Specific Role and Specific Role and Specific Role with support
Descriptors by UK Descriptors by UK Descriptors by from regional/
Representative LDFs RCN Boards country LDFs
Committees supported by UK
supported by LDFs
Role Descriptor Review Year 1
Drafting of ‘best fit’ revised role descriptors mapped to Module Leads April/May
Review of ‘best fit’ Review of ‘best Review of ‘best Module Leads June-Aug
revised role fit’ revised role fit’ revised role with support
descriptors by UK descriptors by descriptors by from regional/
Representative Representing & RCN Boards country LDFs
Committees Influencing Team supported by UK
supported by LDFs
Final versions of revised role descriptors mapped to relevant Module Leads Sept/Oct
Revised role descriptors approved by Trade Union Oct
Revised role descriptors signed off by Membership and Dec
Curriculum Change Year 2 Responsible Timing
Independent theming of evaluative feedback from agreed Outsourced by Jan/Feb
stakeholders throughout Year 1 LDF-Quality
Curriculum Change Year 2
Claims, concerns and issues (CCI) capturing evaluative Module Leads March/April
feedback and outcomes of Role Descriptor Review
Module 1 CCI Stewards Learning Safety Rep
Module CCI Rep Module Module CCI
Curriculum review days based on the CCI Module Leads May/June
Curriculum Curriculum Curriculum Curriculum facilitator
Review Day Review Day Review Day Review Day
Module 1 Stewards Learning Safety Reps
Module Reps Module Module
Curriculum review outcomes Module Leads July-Sept
Curriculum modification (learning outcomes and
programme) mapped to revised role descriptors
Updating of facilitator pack, resources and assessment tool
Assurance to UK Quality Assurance Group for Activists’ L&D
that robust processes have been followed
Posting of final versions to S drive in line with version
Governance reporting Module Leads Oct-Dec
Feedback on outcomes of curriculum review as appropriate:
Trade Union Governance Group
Membership and Representation Committee
UK Representative Committees
Process and outcomes to be reviewed by OCN as external accrediting partner
Version control protocol to be developed
Appendix 2: Set of revised representative role descriptors
Generic Role: Steward, Safety and Learning Representatives
1. Works within the RCN Dignity Charter and promote the values held in the charter
2. Communicates effectively on behalf of RCN members, with relevant stakeholders
3. Develops personally and professionally, using a variety of approaches, to ensure high
quality in all areas of work and practice as an RCN representative.
4. Contributes to the ongoing development/support of RCN members in their workplace
5. Acts in ways that promote equality, diversity and human rights.
6. Raise the profile of the RCN
7. Understands the policy making processes of the RCN and supports, influences &
implements RCN policy/policies
8. Supports promotes and implement RCN campaigns, in line with agreed priorities
9. Actively contributes to RCN recruitment and retention policies and practices
10. Works actively within the branch and enable local member participation and
11. Works in partnership with employers and other stakeholders on behalf of, and
representing the views of, RCN members
12. Negotiates with employer for reasonable paid time off during working hours to carry out
trade union duties*
*12. Time off provisions for trade union officials were brought together in sections 168-170 of the Trade Union and Labour
Relations (Consolidation) ACT 1992. Section 43 of the Employment Act 2002 added a new right for union learning
representatives to take paid time off during working hours to undertake their duties and to undertake relevant training
(Reference : Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) 2003
Specifically an employer has to permit a safety representative to take such time off with pay ‘as shall be necessary’ to
‘perform their functions and undergo such training as would be reasonable’ (Reference: Labour Relations Department
(2003): Time off for trade union duties and activities- a guide for workplace and safety representative’s p.30).
*Officials are entitled to paid time off where the duties are concerned with:
Negotiations with the employer about matters which fall within section 178(2) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations
(Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A and for which the union is recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining
by the employer; or
Any other functions on behalf of employees of the employer which are related to matters falling within section 178(2)
TULR(C)A and which the employer has agreed the union may perform
In Northern Ireland the provisions relating to time off for study or training are the same but are contained in; Labour
Relations Agency (2004) Code of Practice; Time Off for Trade Union Duties and Activities (Including Guidance on
Time Off for Union Learning Representatives. Labour Relations Agency
Specific Role - RCN Accredited Trade Union Steward
Summary of Role: - To protect employment rights and promote the fair treatment of RCN
members through collective and individual representation.
1. Supports, advises and represents RCN members with employment and professional
issues to ensure that a fair process is followed.
2. Helps RCN members to understand the processes and possible outcome(s) of their
cases and how this may affect their employment status
3. Contributes to the prevention and resolution of disputes in the workplace by
developing effective working relations in the workplace.
4. Contributes to the formulation and implementation of collective bargaining strategy.
5. In partnership with employers and other stakeholders, influences positive
employment relations through review and development of employment policies
6. Directs RCN members to information and resources to enable them to understand
their employment rights and related professional issues.
7. Identifies appropriate information to use in individual/collective cases of
Specific Role - RCN Accredited Trade Union Safety Representative
Summary of Role: - To work with employers and others in maintaining and promoting a safe and
healthy workplace for RCN members/staff.
1. Encourages and supports employers in meeting their responsibility to ensure compliance with
health and safety legislation (RDs 7 and 8)2
2. Champions adherence to positive health and safety practice (RD 3)
3. Influences the development of a positive safety culture to bring about a safe and healthy working
environment (RDs 6 and 9)
4. Carries out regular safety inspections in the workplace (RD 5)
5. Engages in consultation with employers to support their completion of risk assessments in order to
manage risk effectively in the work place (RD 4)
6. Investigates health and safety concerns, potential hazards, accidents and dangerous occurrences
and makes recommendations for reducing or preventing these in the future(RD10)
7. Consults with, and receives information from HSE inspectors and other enforcement officers on
behalf of RCN members (New)
8. Represents RCN members’ interests on health and safety committees (RD11 and R6)
9. Negotiates on behalf of, and represents the health and safety interests of RCN members (RD1)
10. Identifies appropriate information and resources to support RCN members and RCN
representatives on matters related to health and safety (RDs 2, 12, 13 and 14)
11. Supports RCN stewards in the individual representation of members where appropriate (New)
Figures in brackets indicate previous role descriptors used in developing the revised version
Specific Role - RCN Accredited Trade Union Learning Representative
Summary of Role: - To promote the value of learning through supporting individual
members to plan and manage their learning, and by working collaboratively with the
RCN, employers and other stakeholders to negotiate and protect learning in the
1. Provides information and advice to RCN members, activists and staff on
learning related issues.
2. Supports members in identifying their learning and development needs and
assist in planning and managing their learning.
3. Guides RCN members to information and resources to support their learning
and development needs.
4. Works with other RCN representatives to supporting members in a work
related issue where there is a learning and development dimension.
5. Acts as a role model to promote the value of learning and development in the
workplace and promote access to lifelong learning.
6. In partnership with employers, contributes to the development of a positive
learning workplace culture.
7. Negotiates access to Continuing Professional Development in the workplace.
8. Engages with employers, members and other union learning representatives
to support the development and implementation of a workplace learning
agreement or learning strategy.
9. Supports and influences local and national policies, initiatives and campaigns
which promote learning.
10. Communicates the learning needs of RCN members to the RCN via Learning
reps committee/governance structures