United we stand

23rd January 2009 at 00:00
Teachers do not have to join a union but most do because of the benefits they offer. The four classroom unions have distinctive histories and stances about government policy and industrial action. Which one should you join?

ATL

ATL offers services for student and newly-qualified members. ATL Future, its student and NQ group, holds regular meetings around the UK and also guarantees places at the annual conference.

NQ members have full access to our services - confidential legal support, 24-hour stress and crisis hotline, insurance cover and free training. Education research and policy proposals, based on members' views and experience, influence the union's regular discussions with the Government.

The student and NQ website - www.new2teaching.org.uk - provides advice and information. Discussion forums enable members to share experiences, get advice from others, and discover where to find the best resources.

The student and NQ magazine, New2teaching, has ideas from other newly- qualified members. Plus there are free publications which help with writing a CV, give interview tips, advice on meeting parents and managing classroom behaviour, and hold free seminars and networking events round the country.

Students can use a personalised job-finder service, in association with Eteach. Visit www.atl.eteach.com.

The union offers professional and personal development, including a partnership with Edge Hill University to study to masters level at a heavily discounted price, with an additional membership discount when enrolled.

Student membership is free. NQTs get their first year of teaching free and their second year at half price - Pounds 75 if paid in a one-off direct debit payment.

The NASUWT

The union's programme of support includes summer seminars, held across the UK, to prepare NQTs for their first teaching post. This continues throughout the induction year, with follow-up sessions and professional development opportunities. Casework support, confidential advice and legal assistance is also available.

Through a network of local branches and workplace representatives, serving teachers provide advice. They work with professional staff based across a network of NASUWT centres.

Campaign priorities are:

- a guaranteed placement for every teacher during their induction year.

- an end to the misuse of temporary contracts.

- ensuring all statutory induction entitlements are provided.

- eradicating the practice of routinely assigning to NQTs the classes where behaviour challenges even the most experienced teachers.

For the majority of the first three years of teaching, subscriptions are either free or at a reduced cost, while retaining entitlement to the full membership benefits and services.

Full membership of Pounds 158 is rising to Pounds 160 next year. All NQTs get their first term free. If they pay by direct debit, the following year is free and the year after that is at half price. For those who do not pay by direct debit, the first term is free, then the next two years are half price.

The National Union of Teachers

The union provides legal and professional advice and support. It helps members with curriculum issues and conditions of service and pay, plus free training courses.

Members save hundreds of pounds each year by accessing discounts which are available through the union.

It campaigns for a good local school for every child and for every community. It is also a member of the Global Campaign for Education, working for every child in the world to have a primary school education by 2015.

Other campaigns include a reduction in working hours, the removal of excessive workloads, a better work-life balance, fair pay and the restoration of purchasing power lost by teachers through inflation.

The NUT believes that a single professional body, articulating the views of the profession, would benefit both children and teachers. Its work on equality issues has been adopted by schools, local authorities and other government institutions.

The NUT has a young teachers' section for all in-service members under 36. They are offered free membership for one term and half-price membership for the next two calendar years. Visit www.teachers.org.uk.

Voice

With more than 38,000 members and rising, the union is large enough to make itself heard, yet flexible enough to forge relationships with its members.

Voice's goal is to ensure that each member's place of work is somewhere they feel valued, secure and rewarded. The union advises members on work- related issues - such as disciplinary matters, competence, contracts, false allegations, discrimination or unfair dismissal - and negotiates with government, local authorities and private employers.

It believes in the strength of negotiation to protect its members, and refuses to resort to industrial action. It's a policy that has proved effective, demonstrated by the success of its work with the Government in improving the pay and working conditions of teachers.

Independent from the TUC and not affiliated to any political party, Voice offers service from a nationwide network of trained officers and volunteers. There is also a flexible subscription rates.

Membership benefits include personal accident insurance and protection of property insurance, a 24-hour legal advisory line for non-employment issues and discounts on goods and services, including Open University CPD courses.

Subscription for NQTs in the first and second year of employment is Pounds 45 per year (Pounds 40.50 direct debit). Visit www.voicetheunion.org.uk.

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