The current Professional Association of Teachers magazine gives, as a report from Electoral Reform Ballot Services, the figure 25,478 as the number of ballot papers issued in a recent election. These papers go to all members, apart from students, and therefore give a reasonable indication of membership.
In the annual return received by the certification officer for trade unions on May 24, 1999 the audited figure is given as 31,590. The figure on May 23, 1997 gives an audited figure of 40,178.
The 31,590 figure was used by The TES in its article of April 21. This wasa perfectly valid use of the available data since it was the last audited PAT figure available.
I assume from The TES analysis that the other teacher unions had pre-empted next month's publication of audited membership figures by releasing their increased membership at their respective conferences.
Had the PAT figures also increased on last year Kay Driver could have responded to your article by releasing the latest figures. This opportunity was not taken and must lead to the conclusion reached by you that "PAT has lost ground".
John R Andrews
General secretary PAT (1992-1997)