Voted for by its members, the amalgamation of the Association of Teachers and Leaders and the National Union of Teachers means the National Education Union (NEU) will be the largest education union in Europe. Choosing the new academic year as the moment to launch their joint venture, the union will represent a majority of teachers and education professionals across the UK.
General Secretaries, Dr Mary Bousted, ATL, and Kevin Courtney, NUT, will run the NEU together with a transition period until January 2019.
With a plethora of issues facing the education system – from funding cuts to teacher workload, recruitment and retention – the merger has been welcomed as a positive step. Courtney highlighted the ‘united voice’ it would provide its members.
Bousted described the formation of the NEU as a ‘game changer’ combining the strengths of both unions; ‘ATL’s training and policy expertise with the NUTs campaigning and lobbying skills.’
With the government’s introduction of a ‘double threshold’ for strike action, Courtney and Bousted agreed the make-up of strike action may change with ‘school by school action’ where the threshold is more achievable. Bousted also drew on the success of the school cuts campaign run during the general election as an alternative method to industrial strike, instead raising awareness amongst parents to have leverage on government change.
Both identified the ‘funding crisis’ and ‘overwhelming’ workload as the union’s key priorities.
Professor Howard Stevenson, Director of Research at the University of Nottingham School of Education said the superunion will ‘be a voice that cannot be ignored.’
What issues do you think should be at the forefront of the merger?
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Jemma, is our Resource and Development leader here at Athona and is also a qualified teacher. During Jemma’s teaching career, she held the responsibility of Teaching and Learning Leader for key stage 3 English and was a mentor to a number of trainee teachers. Jemma spends her time regularly writing topical and latest industry blog posts and is the main point of contact for our international candidates. More recently, Jemma has been coordinating the training we provide to our teachers and schools.