Activists training

GFTU courses at Northern College

Northern College, has been facilitating the training of activists for over 40 years. Already working in partnership with many trade unions, they are able to offer excellent tailored education provision in the unique residential setting of a Grade-I listed country house situated in the Yorkshire countryside. The courses are residential, meaning you can enjoy the house and 800 acres of gardens, land and deer park. For more information on The Northern College, please click here or visit

The GFTU courses are residential and most are accredited meaning you achieve a qualification in trade union studies. Courses include bed, breakfast, evening meal and tea/coffee twice a day at break times.

To find out which courses are currently available, please visit the events section of our website.

To apply for a course please fill in the application form here and send to  to authorise and send onto the GFTU.

Any questions on Northern College please contact Paul Gibson, Trade Union Education at The Northern College

Email: Tel: 01226 776000

Mark Robinson is the GFTU Education administrator, who can be contacted with queries about the course programme.

Email: Tel: 01509 410857

Northern College

Core courses

GFTU Shop Stewards Stage one

This course is recommended for workplace shop stewards who are new to the role or those that want to refresh their skills and confidence in representing members.

The course will include the following –

•           The skills a shop steward needs

•           The role of a shop steward

•           Your rights as a shop steward      

•           Facilities and time off

•           Interviewing skills

•           Listening skills

•           Handling a member’s grievance

•           Handling a disciplinary case

•           Fairness and equality

GFTU Shop Stewards Stage Two

This course is recommended for workplace shop stewards who understand the basic elements of their role and their rights and who want to further develop their skills and confidence in representing members. The course will include:

•           Understand a range of problems that affect members

•           Collect and present information in representing members

•           Produce a plan for dealing with specific members problems

•           Develop the skills and confidence required to represent members in meetings with management

•           Equality, discrimination and protected characteristics

•           Bargaining, negotiation and consultation in the workplace

•           Review of Statutory Employment Rights

GFTU Health & Safety Stewards Stage 1

This course is aimed at health and safety stewards who want to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence in the area of health and safety. The course will include:

•           The Role and Functions of the Health and Safety Rep

•           Health and Safety Committee Meetings

•           The Safety Representative and Committee Regulations

•           Facilities for Health and Safety Reps

•           Health and Safety Inspections

•           Recognising Workplace Hazards

•           European Legislation and the ‘6 PACK’

•           Prevention and Control Measures

•           Dealing with Specific Health and Safety Issues of Concern 

GFTU Health & Safety Stewards Stage 2

This course is intended for experienced stewards who have completed the Health and Safety Stewards Stage 1 and more experienced stewards who need to refresh their training. The course will cover a number of topics in depth and will include:

•  The background and origins of specific health & safety legislation affecting the workplace

•  The main legal requirements of specific health & safety regulations

•  Be able to understand how you can use health & safety regulations to improve health & safety standards at work

•  Develop the confidence to raise health and safety matters on behalf of union members

•  Understand the key legal requirements relating to risk assessment

•  Understand the risk assessment process

•  Use risk assessment strategies and union organisation to secure improvements in workplace safety

GFTU Negotiating skills

This course is recommended for shop stewards who have experience in their role and who want to further develop their skills and confidence in negotiation for their members. The course will cover a number of topics in depth and will include:

•           Everyday Negotiation Skills                                              

•           What is Negotiating?                                              

•           Negotiating Styles                                           

•           Employment Law and the Workplace                                                         

•           Effective Negotiating Teams                                 

•           Case Analysis – Problem and Preparation             

•           Body Language

•           Negotiation Practice                                                           

•           Case Analysis – Research and Planning                                              

Union Learning Representative Stage 1

This five-day course is designed to equip Union Learning Reps (ULRs) with all the prerequisite skills needed for their tasks. This course will ensure ULRs are sufficiently trained in order to fulfil their role, making them eligible for time-off in order to fulfil their trade union duties. The course will cover a number of topics in depth and will include:

•           The role and functions of ULRs

•           The principals of lifelong learning

•           Interviewing techniques

•           Negotiating learning and training

•           The identification of learning needs

•           Supporting members in their own learning

Developing Adult Learning

The purpose of this course is to empower students to understand the role of the education volunteer and be able to identify people’s issues and get them involved in education and training.  This course is for people who have some experience in helping others access education. The course will cover a number of topics in depth and will include:

•           Listen and respond constructively in group and class discussions

•           Describe current activities that promote formal and informal learning

•           Describe examples of inequalities in learning

•           How to deliver a micro-teach

Other Available courses

Equality in the workplace (a new 5-day course, level 1 & ‘openly recruited’).

The course will take the opportunity to consider appropriate inclusive language and its importance e.g. gender-neutral language. Students will explore and consider valuable and reliable research sites. It will also deepen an awareness of unconscious bias, in ourselves and others and the impact this can have. As well as developing students’ knowledge of using the Equality Act 2010 and Health and Safety to strengthen negotiations in the workplace and in communities.  

The course will include:
• How to raise the equality agenda in workplaces
• Exploring how to make equality and diversity part of mainstream collective bargaining
• Working with vulnerable workers and ensuring they receives fair treatment

Synopsis of ‘short’ courses (2 day residential, 15 GLH, ‘openly recruited’)

Developing women role models

Women’s voices are often underrepresented in today’s workplace. This course aims to address that imbalance by empowering woman to organise and support each other, with a view to becoming advocates and companions for each other. It will look into barriers that can stop or limit women’s progression and how best to overcome them. 

The course aims to:

•           Develop students’ confidence

•           Show students how to apply confidence in situations

•           Understand assertiveness

Young workers and volunteers

The course is aimed at younger employees in the workplace. It is designed to develop confidence to support other younger workers, be able to identify barriers and opportunities for young workers, set SMART goals to achieve, use social media and other communication tools and develop team working and problem-solving skills.

The course aims to help students:

•           Identify own strengths and weakness as a team member

•           Identify ways to improve own ability to function effectively

Black, Minority, Asian and Ethnic leaders

This course will explore roles within leadership, specifically for people from the BAME community.  The challenges that are faced as well as the support networks available as well as helping to build the confidence to embrace leadership within their own contexts. Most importantly, the course will offer guidance as oppose to dictating a specific path.

The course aims to help students:

  • Work on examples of behaviours that could cause conflict
  • Challenge negative behaviour
  • Understand effective communication