Union trio in talks over super council

23rd January 1998 at 00:00
Ministers may soon hear the united voice of 300,000 teachers

Three of the largest teaching unions are holding talks on setting up a super council to give more clout to their 300,000 members.

The National Union of Teachers, the Association of University Teachers and lecturers' union NATFHE hope co-operation can boost their lobbying power with ministers.

The alliance - potentially one of the most powerful in British education - would unite the three unions on issues of common interest in post-14 policy: covering schools, further and higher education.

The union leaders, Doug McAvoy of the NUT, David Triesman of the AUT, and NATFHE's Paul Mackney, are also considering whether services and expertise can be shared.

It is possible that the links could be extended to other unions such as the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers. Union leaders believe they need a special interest group to tackle ministers on policy for 14 to 25-year-olds.

Mr Triesman said the council would have an important role in lobbying ministers, but would also cement links between the unions.

He said: "We need some sort of council to cover areas of policy which are important not just because of the recent Dearing and lifelong learning reports, but because of the needs of the economy.

"We really need some kind or organisation which brings together the specialist unions which look at the interface between compulsory and post-16 education. "

Mr Mackney said he had met both Mr Triesman and Mr McAvoy in recent days to discuss closer links between the unions. He said: "The importance of the council is to present a common front on policy to Government where we can. "

The current talks are the strongest move yet towards uniting schools, colleges and universities.

Last year academics at the Institute of Education in London brought together an unprecedented coalition of 11 teaching unions and professional associations to press for reform of qualifications for students over 14.

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