Learning & Group Support

The Learning & Group Support Sub-committee oversees the running of the 100 or so groups in the U3A. It  helps in the formation of new groups (and short courses), maintains contact with the groups and provides guidance on how to run groups.  See Terms of Reference for this Sub-committee.

Learning & Group Support Sub-committee Members:  Pete Trigwell (Chair), David Blanchflower (Short Courses Coordinator), Pauline Jones, Eila Wall, Jane Astles, Stephen Ellison.

How to start a group
Publicity for your group
Running a group
Financial matters
Resources for group leaders
Equipment for groups
Communicating with group members
Group leaders meetings
Health & Safety

Starting a New Group

Any member can put forward suggestions for a new group they themselves would like to set up or suggest an activity/interest group they would like to see established. Ideas for new groups are always welcome and full support will be given by the Learning & Group Support Sub-committee in order to ensure the new group becomes established and has an active membership. Read more on how to start a new group or short course

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Publicity for your Group 

Publicity for your group (or short course) can be achieved via a variety of methods:

Leaders should ensure that their group page on the U3A website is kept up to date and contains appropriate photographs. There is no limit to the information that can be added. A contact name and telephone number should be included. The information should be updated at regular intervals to keep the page fresh and attractive.

Groups should also insert details of group activities in the quarterly magazine. You will normally be asked for this 4 times a year in time for the next magazine. A contact name and telephone number should be included.

Information for new groups, events, alterations in meetings, or anything else can be put into the e-newsletter each month.

Announcements can be made at Horizons and relevant fliers put out on the tables.

Our U3A has a Facebook page – useful for dissemination of relevant Group and Short Courses details.

Publicity contact details:

Send info for the magazine to magazine@aughton-ormskirk.u3a.co.uk
Send info for the website to webteam@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk
Send info for the enewsletter to news@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk

See the Communication within our U3A page for further information.

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Running the Group

A Group may be run as the Leader and members wish but the following guidance may be useful.

The role of the Group leader will vary according to the type of group being run. In some Groups, Leaders follow a structured plan that might involve some degree of guidance and tuition, e.g. languages, aerobics, whilst in others the role is that of coordinating events and people, e.g. art appreciation, theatre visits.

The Group Leader is responsible for the content, duration, and administration of the Group’s meetings. The venue, frequency and timing of meetings, and other housekeeping details should be discussed and agreed by the Group. This should include the use of the microphone.

It is essential that the Group Leader maintains details of the Group’s income and expenditure and at the year end, 31st March, makes a financial report. This is particularly important in groups with paid tutors and large income. Leaders should be aware that group members are entitled to know the financial position of the group and group members should be fully consulted.

An  Attendance Register should be kept at all meetings, which should include membership numbers as shown on membership cards. The Group Leader should ensure that all members of the Group are members of our U3A, as this is required by the insurance.

If, during a group meeting, an incident occurs which results in an injury to a member or damage to property an Accident Report Form must be completed. See section on Accidents below.

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Financial Matters

  1. All members attending regular group meetings are required to pay an Attendance Fee of £0.50 per head as a standard contribution towards the hire charges of premises, which are paid directly to owners/landlords by U3A. In practice it is common for the actual hire charges to exceed group contributions.
  2. If the group wishes, it can collect an amount modestly in excess of the standard (£0.50) fee, and can use the accumulated surplus, for example, to provide refreshments or  purchase minor materials or to offer ‘free’ meetings. Only the standard Attendance Fee should be deposited with the Treasurer, using the new paying-in slip, and supported by an attendance register for the period covered by the receipts.
  3. All costs associated with the engagement of external tutors must be met by the group, and group leaders/organisers are obliged to maintain appropriate records to demonstrate that this is achieved.
  4. Similarly group leaders/organisers are responsible for ensuring that all expenses relating to an organised activity (e.g. trips, admission, holidays, coach hire, catering, socials) are fully recovered from those participating, with the exception of those costs referred to in 1 and 2 above.
  5. Group leaders/organisers should hold no funds, except for the ‘modest surplus’ described in 2 above, and no receipts or payments connected with U3A activities should be processed through any bank account other than U3A’s. Consequently all monies paid in advance should be lodged with the Treasurer: cheques should be made payable to ‘Aughton & Ormskirk U3A’.
  6. The treasurer will make an advance payment, if one is necessary, against the supplier’s invoice or confirmation of order, approved by the group leader/organiser. Alternatively, the group leader/organiser may claim reimbursement of expenses incurred by submitting receipts to the Treasurer.
  7. Groups can apply to the Finance & Resources sub-committee for financial support to purchase necessary equipment. When purchased, the equipment becomes the property of U3A, and is accessible by other groups. See the request form in Policies and Procedures.

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Resources for Group Leaders

The Third Age Trust seeks to provide support to the U3As in all their activities. This learning support is co-ordinated by the Standing Committee for Education (SCE), whose role is to explore and articulate Third Age Learning. It has in recent years created several support services for use by U3As around the country. There is advice on starting and running a group on almost any subject. You will need to create an account on the Third Age Trust website before you can access the resource page

Additional study materials and resources can be found from the following:

Open Learn gives free access to course materials from The Open University. Details of the range of subject are available at openlearn.open.ac.uk/

Learn with the BBC: Links to a wide range of courses ranging from Art and Design to Sports and Fitness and a range of languages at www.bbc.co.uk/learning/

MIT OpenCourseware: Free course materials used at the MIT can be downloaded from ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

The NorthWest region organisies Study Days on particular themes, which enable participants from U3As to study aspects of a subject in depth.

Each year the Third Age Trust organises one or more Summer Schools, which again give U3A participants the opportunity to explore a chosen subject in some depth while enjoying a residential experience.

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Equipment for groups

The U3A has purchased equipment  for the use of Groups and for Official Administrative purposes. Check the Stock Assets page if you require any equipment for group use.

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Communicating with your group members

Group Leaders have three means of communicating with the overall U3A membership: the e-newsletter, the website, and the magazine, see above.

Group Leaders use a variety of ways to communicate with their group members in between editions of the magazine. The email newsletter is sent out every month and can be used to let group members of any changes, cancellations, etc. of the published programme. Some groups ask for emails from group members and create a “group list” so that they can send out one email which reaches all group members. This can now most easily be achieved using the Beacon Membership System. Use a web form to Contact the Membership Secretary for help with this.

It is also a good idea if Leaders inform group members of any general U3A matters at the group’s regular meetings.

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Meetings for Group Leaders

Every year there is a Group Leaders’ meeting. This event gives Group Leaders an opportunity to raise issues for discussion with committee members and can also be a way of thanking the group leaders for their efforts during the year. This event enables leaders to mingle with fellow leaders, discuss best practices and share experiences.

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Health and Safety

A Group Leader needs to be aware of the Health and Safety regulations of the venue in which the group meetings are held, but in practice this usually means nothing more than making sure the group knows where the fire exits are.

In the case of the Scout & Guide HQ, any extra security bars/bolts on fire doors should be removed/unbolted at the start of each group meeting and replaced/bolted at the end of the meeting.

Leaders should ensure they are aware of the fire assembly point for the premises they are using. In the case of the Scout & Guide HQ it is in the car park of Christ Church Ministry Centre near the Vista café.

You should have the postcode of the premises you are using on your attendance register as this will be needed if you have need to call an ambulance or the Fire Service. The postcodes are as follows.

  • Scout & Guide HQ, L39 5AS
  • Aughton Village Hall, L39 5DH
  • Scarisbrick Village Hall, L40 8HH

The majority of our groups meet at the Scout &  Guide HQ.  A condition of our use of the building is that our meetings will not finish between 3.15 and 3.45 so as to avoid exacerbating traffic congestion at the end of the school day.

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Every member of every U3A in the country is covered by an insurance policy taken out by The Third Age Trust. What we have is known as Public and Products Liability Insurance. It insures a U3A member against compensation claims arising from injury or damage to property suffered by a third party, or claims arising from the failure of a product, for which failure a U3A member is held to be legally liable. The above is intended only to be a brief description of the insurance and is in no sense authoritative. U3A insurance

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A requirement of the insurance is that in the event of a member of your group suffering an accident, he or she must complete an Accident Report Form, as soon as is reasonably practical following the event and return it to the U3A Secretary. Accident forms should be returned not later than 24 hours after an incident, because if certain types of accident occur the Health & Safety Executive has by law to be informed within 48 hours. This will ensure that an accurate record is kept should there be further consequences, either medical or legal. Completed forms should be returned to the U3A Secretary.

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A photocopier is available in the computer room for group leaders if they need it. You will need to get a code number to use the copier.

A small amount of personal copying of copyright materials for specified reasons is allowed under the “Fair Dealing” arrangement made in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

The broadly accepted guidelines for the amount of a work that may be copied under “Fair Dealing” allow the copying of:

  • one article from an issue of a journal
  • up to one chapter or 5%, whichever is greater, of a book
  • one poem or short story of up to ten pages from an anthology

Fair dealing does not apply to films, sound recordings or broadcasts.

The photocopying of printed music is almost always illegal. See www.mpaonline.org.uk for more information.

Recorded Music. The PPL licence supplied by The Third Age Trust gives U3As permission to play recorded music in public.

DVDs/Videos. The Third Age Trust has no blanket licence arrangement with film copyright holders or organisations. Groups are usually covered by an exemption in the Copyright Law which allows the use of videos or DVDs for educational purposes.

For more information, please check the UK Copyright Service.

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Use the standard forms where available.

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