Plans for forming a new “union for education professionals” have been backed by National Union of Teachers delegates at their annual conference in Brighton today.
But the real verdict will come at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) conference later on in the Easter break where a similar motion will be put to the more moderate union.
If ATL delegates also support talks to continue, then special conferences for both unions could be held in the autumn to consider whether to ballot members over forming a single merged union.
After the plans were discussed behind closed doors this afternoon, Christine Blower, NUT general secretary said: “[Professional Unity] is more important than ever. We believe that it is helpful for the profession to speak with one voice, both at national level and at the increasingly devolved school level."
She added: “The NUT and ATL have worked closely together on a number of issues. The National Executive will be looking at how this can be developed and carried forward in the coming months.”
Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, told TES it made “absolute sense” to look into the possibility of forming a new union – especially in light of challenges that teachers face from the White Paper.
She added that a new union would enable all education professionals in the private and state sectors – including teachers, school leaders, support staff, lecturers, college managers – to have to have “a stronger voice”.
Earlier this month NASUWT general secretary, Chris Keates, told TES that she would “respect the decision of sister trade unions” - but she said that it was “better” for ministers to receive six letters from unions on issues such as pay, rather than one with six signatures.
This morning, NUT president Anne Swift highlighted the benefits of having one union. She said: "In Finland, one union – the OAJ – represents educators from pre-school to university level. The Finnish government sees consultation, discussions and negotiations with the OAJ as essential to securing the education service it wants."