National Education Union set to become fourth largest trade union in the UK when it launches in September

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

The new National Education Union (NEU) is set to become the fourth largest trade union in the UK when it comes into existence on September 1.

It will be formed by the merger of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and is set to have up to 450,000 members.

The merger was put to members of the two unions in two ballots that closed earlier this month.

The ATL’s ballot saw almost 30,000 members vote from a possible 121,083, with 73 per cent backing the merger (21,722).

The NUT’s ballot saw almost 68,000 members vote from a possible 300,046, with 97 per cent voting “yes” (65,908).

The ATL represents teachers, support staff and lecturers in both state and private schools and colleges in the UK. The NUT, meanwhile, represents, qualified teachers in England and Wales.

The NEU will begin work in September but will operate parallel ATL and NUT sections under a joint executive committee until 2019.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL’s general secretary, and Kevin Courtney, the NUT’s general secretary, will operate as joint general secretaries of the NEU until 2023, when an election will take place.

Dr Bousted said that among the “key issues” the NEU will be focused on from September include school funding cuts, excessive workloads, the recruitment and retention crisis, the “chaotic exam reform”, and school accountability.

She added: “This is an historic moment. 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.

“The new union will combine ATL’s diversity of members, training and policy expertise with the NUT’s lobbying and effective local activity.

“It will be the largest union in most schools, bringing together everyone in their workplaces – teachers, lecturers, support staff, heads and managers – and empowering them to share their expertise and improve their working lives.”

Mr Courtney said: “For too long governments have played divide and rule among education unions.

“(The ballot result) 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. The NEU will be a game-changer in the education landscape.”

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