In what is being mooted as a sign of things to come, eight unions have joined forces to oppose cuts at multi-academy trusts.
In the space of one week, the unions fired shots across the bows of two academy chains where staffing cuts are on the cards.
The unions involved are GMB, Unison, Unite, the NUT, the ATL, the NAHT, the Association of School and College Leaders and the NASUWT.
First, they warned the David Ross Educational Trust about “possible action” if it goes ahead with plans to cut 40 support jobs. Days later, they issued a joint statement asking the Academies Enterprise Trust to rethink “dangerous” plans to make 34 caretakers redundant.
Jon Richards, Unison’s head of education, says the rise of MATs and the school funding situation have forced the unions “to form tight coalitions”.
He says the ripple effects from support staff cuts have galvanised cooperation between the teacher unions and the big public sector unions.
And he believes the NAHT and ASCL have come on board because “headteachers are seeing that MATs are pulling away their decisionmaking powers”.
Paul Whiteman (pictured), the NAHT’s general secretary-designate, agrees it’s important that when the unions share a view “we should all say so”. “It amplifies that voice and makes the point,” he says.
However, we shouldn’t expect a breakout in general amity among England’s teacher unions just yet – one insider says that inter-union competition “is as great as it ever was”.
But Richards has a stark answer when asked if the unions will continue to take coordinated action when dealing with academy trusts. “Every time a MAT tries to roll us over: yes.”