UNISON Learning and Organising Services marked the union’s 25th anniversary year with a writing competition on the theme of Learning: past, present, future.
The competition was open to all UNISON members, who were encouraged to interpret the theme as broadly as they liked.
The winning entry was:
Conservative Party Conference 2050, by James Gore from West Berkshire branch, a satirical speech that succeeded in being simultaneously humorous and inspiring. It was read out at the Learning: the next 25 years fringe meeting at 2018’s National Delegate Conference, to laughter and applause.
The remaining shortlisted entries were:
Petrichor, by Rachael Bate from Chester branch, a charming story told from an unusual point of view: this was the only entry with a non-human narrator. And that gave Rachael the freedom to imagine the whole of life as a learning experience. It also had a fabulous selection of puns!
A Different Class by Kenneth Cowell from Newcastle branch was one of several rather dystopian visions of what learning might look like in the future. What made this one stand out was the sheer chilling plausibility of it.
A Teacher Prepares by Colin Gardiner from Islington Local Government branch was a personal account, told with real compassion and humanity.
Another personal account, but this time coming from the other side, was Learning – a love story by John Ingleson from Leeds Teaching Hospitals branch. It was funny and tender, and a brilliant illustration of all sorts of different learning.
The one poem on the shortlist is There, Inside Of Me by Joanna Ryan from Wiltshire and Avon Health branch. It tells a story of someone whose experience at school was limiting and off-putting, whose abilities were dismissed, but who has returned to learning later in life. And it tells it with energy, with anger, but also with open-mindedness and generosity.
The competition was judged by:
- Genevieve Clarke, Reading Agency
- Andrew Jennison, UNISON ULR at De Montfort University
- Kathleen Jowitt, Betty Trask award winning novelist and UNISON staff
- Kirsi Kekki, Unionlearn policy officer for English and maths learning
The six best entries will be published in a celebration booklet later in the year.
Photograph © Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk