The ballots run from 27 February to 21 March and the results will be announced on 22 March.
ATL general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, said: “This is an historic moment for ATL members to determine the future of their union and their profession by voting to form the National Education Union (NEU), which would be the largest education union in the UK.
“The National Education Union would be a game-changer combining ATL’s diversity of members, excellent training and policy expertise with the NUT’s campaigning and lobbying skills and well-established, effective local activity. As a union of nearly half a million members, our stronger voice would need to be heard when we speak out for education professionals and their pupils.
“The new union would bring together teachers, lecturers, support staff, heads and managers in their workplaces to share their expertise and improve their working lives. The new union would take members’ concerns and ideas to Government to improve education policy for the benefit of the children and young people they support.
“We want education to be a profession you can stay in for the long-term, with good working conditions and good rates of pay. We want a stronger voice to challenge and give our alternatives to issues such as funding cuts, constant changes to the curriculum and exams, restructuring and redundancies, increased workload and the recruitment crisis which blight our members’ lives and damage students’ education.
“I am proud of what ATL has achieved for its members and the difference we have made in education policy. But in the current education climate, it’s time to end the division of six unions and come together with the NUT to form a new union. I urge members to vote to secure their future and strengthen their voice.”
Members are eligible to vote if they were ATL or AMiE members on 31 January 2017 – this includes newly qualified teachers and lecturers, lecturers, teachers, support staff, leaders and managers and retired members.
If both ATL and NUT members vote to go ahead, the new union would start a transitional phase from 1 September 2017, with separate ATL and NUT sections, a joint executive committee and joint general secretaries.
New rules would come in from 1 January 2019, a new executive would be elected and the ATL and NUT sections would be integrated. Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney would remain as joint general secretaries until July 2023 when there would be an election for one general secretary.
Education staff only take industrial action as a last resort, and this would continue to be the case. The new union rules require an indicative ballot which has significant support for action before members are balloted. Members would only ever be balloted about issues that directly affect their terms and conditions, and would retain the right not to take action.