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BCTF Advantage

School Union Representative Training Program


Just as the president and the Executive Committee are the head of the union, and the general membership is the heart, the school union representatives are the legs of the union. No policy, action plan, or communication vehicle will be brought to life in a school without the onsite skills, knowledge, and analytical capabilities of school union representatives.

The BCTF Training Department, within the Professional and Social Issues Division, offers high-quality training programs to assist school union representatives in their ongoing work. The School Union Representative Training (SURT) Program co-ordinates the development, delivery, and evaluation of all SURT workshops for school staffs and teachers teaching on call, professional development chairs, social justice representatives, health and safety representatives, staff committee chairpersons, and local executive committee members.

(Workshops for school staffs, other teacher groupings, and district professional days can be accessed through the BCTF Professional and Social Issues Workshop program which is different and separate from the SURT program.)

The School Union Representative Training program is largely financed by a BCTF grant, which releases school union representatives for up to four days of intensive and practical training. The SURT program is intended to develop the school union representative’s hands-on, experiential knowledge, and understanding of Federation and local issues, and the skills needed to ensure local and Federation policies and procedures are actualized within schools and amongst the teachers who work there.

The title School Union Representative Training Program reflects the fact that the training program covers the different union representatives. You may wish to copy the workshop-selection pages for distribution to school union representatives and/or executive members.

Planning school union representative training

Initial considerations

Careful planning is the key to a successful and enjoyable training day.

What are the desired outcomes for the day?

Through the local strategic planning process, the desired outcomes to meet both local and Federation needs are determined. For staff representatives, training needs are often determined through a feedback survey from a previous training, or a meeting of a staff representative assembly. PD representatives generally work through the local PD chairperson to determine their training needs. Other representatives, such as social justice, health and safety, and school staff committee chairpersons, should work with their local association committees to determine their training needs. 

Who needs to receive the training?

That is a local decision, addressing a specific need in the local. Examples include:

  • a specific group (school PD or SJ representatives, executive committee, etc.) wishing a planning session
  • members new in their role as teacher representatives (rookie staff representatives, rookie PD or SJ representatives, school staff committee chairpersons, etc.)
  • those who wish training on an issue of local concern (professional ethics, health and safety, social justice, etc.).

Booking a workshop

All school union representative training must be booked through the BCTF Professional and Social Issues Division (PSID). If necessary, make the initial call to support staff, School Union Representative Training program (604-871-1860, toll-free 1-800-663-9163, local 1860 or to establish the goals for the training, training topic(s), and dates. Give at least three weeks notice so that SURT facilitators, who are teachers or local officers with busy schedules, have adequate time to prepare materials and arrange travel. 

Workshop Request Online Submission Form
To book a workshop, use the “Book this workshop” link below the selected workshop description. Select “School Union Representative Training” from the program type list and click “Go.” Fill in the form and submit. Upon submission, your workshop request will be sent to the BCTF and you will receive an email confirmation of its receipt.

Locally developed training

Occasionally, a local may wish to design and develop a training workshop not offered by the BCTF. It is possible for a local to use the SURT grant for that purpose, but it is essential that such training be planned with Jenny Garrels before the workshop is given if the local is to qualify for the BCTF grant. Further, geographically adjacent locals may wish to jointly sponsor SURT workshops. Jenny Garrels can assist locals with the organization and logistics of co-sponsored SURTs.

Note: Policy 10.J.10 of the BCTF Members’ Guide requires that the local jointly plan leadership training with the Federation to qualify for the grant.

Planning with the facilitator

After booking through the PSID, you will receive:

  • a confirmation by email or fax providing the name and contact information of the facilitator.
  • A call from the facilitator to co-plan the training. 

Who can attend?

Each local is entitled to a grant for up to four days of release time for each school staff representative, including the local TTOC contact (see 10.J.10, Members’ Guide to the BCTF).

SURTs can be booked for the following union representatives:

  1. staff representatives
  2. staff committee chairpersons
  3. school PD representatives
  4. social justice representatives
  5. school health and safety representatives
  6. local executive committee members
  7. TTOCs
  8. teachers new to the profession
  9. some combination of the above.

Who pays for what?

The SURT program will pay for release time and travel for school union representatives according to the grants procedure; the SURT facilitator’s accommodation and release time expenses; and BCTF workshop materials. The local covers facility expenses, meals, and other expenses related to school union representatives’ attendance at the session.

Follow up—Taking it back to the schools

School union representatives should always be seen as members of a team of union activists who work together in each school on behalf of the members—to communicate with, advocate for, or organize and lead on union issues. Training is effective if school union representatives plan to work together as a team and take it back to the school. They put the training to practical use by sharing information/knowledge and implementing ideas with members. Discussing and planning how this is to be done is a component of every workshop. Locals can assist in the follow-up through progress reports at staff representative assemblies, newsletters to members, etc. 

Booking school union representative training days—a checklist

  • The local organizer co-plans and/or discusses training needs and ideas with Jenny Garrels, co-ordinator, School Union Representative Training Program.
  • PSID selects and contacts the facilitator (SURT facilitator).
  • The PSID staff confirms the details of the workshop, by fax, email, or phone, with the local and the facilitator.
  • The local organizer completes the Organizer’s checklist online.
  • The facilitator talks with the local organizer about the shape of the day, the location of the meeting room, A/V needs, photocopying, etc., and co-plans the delivery of the workshop.
  • The local organizer welcomes, introduces, and at the end of the day, thanks the facilitator.
  • The local sends its release-time grant application to Michael Infante (, attaching a copy of the SURT Workshop confirmation form.

Online links

The role and function of the school staff representative—see Members’ Guide to the BCTF, 25.H.04. 

The role and function of the PD representative—see Members’ Guide to the BCTF, 25.H.10.


BCTF contacts

  • Jenny Garrels, SURT Program co-ordinator, 604-871-1871, toll-free 1-800-663-9163, local 1871, Fax: 604-871-2286, or .
  • Support staff, School Union Representative Training, 604-871-1860, toll-free 1-800-663-9163 local 1860, Fax: 604-871-2286, or
  • Michael Infante, SURT grant inquiries, 604-871-2222, toll-free 1-800-663-9163 local 2222, Fax: 604-871-229, or
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