I read with interest Luke Snell's criticisms of the unions juxtaposed with John Bangs' emphasis of the unions' role in research and professional development (Letters, 28 June). In the current environment, with education secretary Michael Gove attacking university education departments and doing his utmost to remove academic rigour from the teaching profession, the role of unions as funders and providers of research and professional development is increasingly important. Equally, with our solvent, self-financing pensions being raided to fund the fiscal deficit, and performance-related pay undermining the principles of duty and service so fundamental to our profession, the role of unions as defenders of members' interests is also vitally important. Who else but our unions can fight on two fronts to maintain our integrity and professionalism? Now is not the time to pay a private company for its services. Now - more than ever - is the time for all teachers to unite and be members of a union.
Gary Ellins, Teacher, Stockport.