ATL Future member, 24 and newly qualified health and social care teacher at a secondary school, Buckinghamshire.
“If I wasn’t an ATL member, I wouldn’t know about many big issues.
Being in a union is really important when there are so many challenges in education at the moment. And with those challenges, I fully support a new union.
Our unions, a lot of the time, are singing from the same hymn sheet. We want what is best for pupils and we come across the same obstacles to achieving this.
Together, we would have a bigger voice putting across our ideas to the Government. We can do more as one. We can share ideas and expertise to create a union that is bigger and better than the one we have now.
There will definitely be a few challenges. Long-standing members of ATL and the NUT may be concerned about change and the loss of culture; they may feel it isn’t their union anymore.
But without acting now to protect us, the newest teachers, we will leave the profession - and where will that leave our pupils? We must look to the future.”
Geography teacher and rep at a Nottingham sixth form college.
“I joined ATL more than 12 years ago. In the sixth form sector, we have faced huge funding cuts leading to restructures, redundancies and cost savings, which increase workload and often set back professionalism.
The constant year-to-year funding crisis makes long-term planning – vital to the sustainability of the sector – very difficult, as there is no certainty. Trying to engage and organise members is difficult when they are under so much workload pressure.
A new union with a louder voice may allow us to finally get the message across to the Government, media and society that there is a looming education crisis.
None of the education unions are currently making the case loudly enough, despite all our best efforts. As well as making our voice louder, pooling our resources in matters such as recruiting members will save lots of time.
Our size should encourage more education professionals to join up, strengthening the union further.”
Primary school principal, Belfast.
“I have been a member of ATL for 26 years. In Northern Ireland, we face the same issues as England, with budgets cuts and lack of investment, and we have heavy workloads that limit the time members have to get active in the union.
A new union would bring together members across every role, in every workplace, to look for positive ways forward for themselves and their pupils. And, of course, having more members strengthens our voice and influence with decision-makers.
At a time when cuts have affected CPD budgets, a new union would bring together the resources and experience to provide learning and development for members.
Of course, any change creates uncertainty. Some members will feel unsure about losing our identity and will be concerned they will need to be more ‘militant’.
A bigger union does not have to mean ‘militant’, indeed a larger membership brings a stronger voice that needs to be heard and does not need to take action unless it’s the very last resort.”
Chair of ATL’s Further Education Sector Advisory Group.
“The current education climate in FE, with area reviews, cuts to funding, stagnant pay and redundancies, has led ATL to consider how best to support and represent you. A larger union would combine resources, enhance support and advice, and strengthen our voice.
It would have a bespoke section for post-16 members, complete with a dedicated conference and committee, a guaranteed seat on Executive, plus six guaranteed places and a motion at Annual Conference.
ATL has always taken a collegiate approach, and in the post-16 sector, ATL and the NUT have worked together to secure the stability and progress of teachers’ pay and conditions in sixth form colleges, finally succeeding in our campaign to gain parity with school teachers.
Creating a new union from two already successful and influential unions gives us a once-in-a-generation chance to bring together our diverse strengths to work together to support each other and our students.”
ATL branch secretary for Bath and north east Somerset.
“Independent members’ support and profile would be enhanced through the new union, not only through structures such as a dedicated committee, a conference and seats on Executive for independent members, but also by combining the two unions’ independent memberships.
As a rep, I found undertaking union work alongside teaching placed a lot of demands on my time. In a new union, I’d look forward to ATL and NUT reps coming together as a team to give the broadest support on workplace issues, union learning, and health and safety.
The new union would also make a difference in providing support and advice on issues that matter most in the independent sector – such as compliance over safeguarding and boarding, workload and performance management procedures.
No strike action in the new union would be called until an indicative ballot has been held to demonstrate strength of feeling, and no members will be forced to go on strike.
You can’t be called to go on strike over issues that don’t directly affect your terms and conditions.”
Teaching assistant at a maintained primary school, Dorset.
“I joined ATL in 2001. I appreciate its clear, reasoned, informed voice and its wholeworkforce approach.
The support given to the Durham teaching assistants (TAs) and development and promotion of professional standards for TAs is indicative of ATL’s attitude.
There are so many challenges in education. The shortage of and retention of teachers, workload, the difficulties facing new heads, the lack of a national pay structure, and sufficient access to CPD for support staff are just a few. Underpinning this are cutbacks in funding.
These issues detract from our ability to do our best for children and they impact on the most vulnerable pupils.
We have a lot in common with NUT members. A new union would give us additional negotiating strength at all levels, making it more likely that disputes can be resolved at an earlier stage before resorting to ballots for strike action. As an important sector in the new union, support staff would benefit and would be able to build on the positive relationships we have already created through ATL.
As the largest education union, we would ensure that Government takes our concerns seriously. We would all benefit from an increased number of active members.
Education needs a united voice.”
Member of ATL’s leadership section, AMiE.
“I’ve been an ATL and then AMiE member for 34 years.
A new union will provide even more opportunities for our leadership members – a dedicated section for leaders and managers; more policy research and campaigns; more support, advice and CPD; and a stronger voice in the education debate through conferences and events designed specifically for them.
For the independent sector in particular, with increasing workloads, stagnating pay and problems with the recruitment and retention of staff, a new union would strengthen our influence both in schools and with decision-makers.
ATL already works closely with the NUT on policy development and campaigns, such as over keeping independent sector teachers in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. The best way for ATL to retain its core values and culture in a new union is for more ATL members to get involved in shaping the future.”
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