National Education Union
Members of the two unions were balloted between 27 February and 21 March. More than 97% of NUT members and 73% of ATL members who voted in the ballot were in favour of the amalgamation. The newly formed union called the National Education Union (NEU) will have more than 450,000 members, and will start in September. The vote gained overwhelming support with members backing the move by more than 2-1 to create what is being dubbed the ‘super-union’.
The National Education Union (NEU) will be the biggest union of teachers and educators in Europe. The NEU will be a union of teachers and ‘allied professionals’, which means it will admit unqualified teachers, something that the NUT currently does not allow. It will also represent school support staff and leaders, in keeping with the current membership make-up of the ATL.
Kevin Courtney NUT General Secretary
This is a fantastic result for members of both unions and for education. For too long governments have played divide and rule amongst unions. Today marks the beginning of the end of that. The NUT and ATL both have proud histories, but speaking with one voice we will be a stronger force standing up for education, teachers, the wider education profession and for the children and young people we teach.
Mary Bousted ATL General Secretary
With nearly half a million members, we will speak with a stronger voice on behalf of education professionals and the children, young people and adults they support. The government will need to listen when we speak on the key issues facing education: funding cuts, excessive workloads, the recruitment and retention crisis, the chaotic exam reform and accountability.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, welcomed the merger, which he said created a powerful voice within education.
Mr Courtney and Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, will be joint general secretaries until 2023, when there will be an election for a new general secretary. The union leaders listed the 'unstable' academies system, qualifications reform, workload (their 'key agenda'), and the school accountability system as early priorities for the NEU. The NEU leaders have ambitions for growth, with plans to target new teachers and seek talks with other education unions about possible future mergers.
Any strike action by the new union will have a bigger impact on schools and the degree of school closures due to the larger member numbers, but proposed changes to trade union law could change the way industrial action is organised. “It will probably be more locally-based, around multi-academy trusts, around particular schools and around particular issues,” Ms Bousted said. Mr Courtney said, “…governments should listen to that and not put us in a position where that happens.”