Welcome diversity of voices

27th April 2012 at 01:00

Greg Dempster is right - "there is more than one voice in teaching, so one union cannot speak for them all" ("Sometimes the profession can benefit from disagreement", TESS, 20 April). Those who argue in favour of one union overlook a number of important points.

There are ideological differences. For example, Voice: the union for education professionals does not take industrial action; others favour such tactics. Plus, some teacher unions, such as Voice, also represent classroom assistants, technicians and other education professionals.

Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have their national unions and are represented by UK-wide unions. But in Scotland, the size-based dominance of the EIS can make it difficult for other voices to be heard in negotiations, because of the EIS's ability to outvote other bodies. This was shown during the SNCT negotiations last year when the EIS, on a close result of less than half of its membership, and Cosla joined forces to overturn the wishes of most teachers and push through a package that Voice, NASUWT and SSTA had all voted to reject.

The accelerated increase in our membership during that period makes clear teachers' desire to be in a position to choose a union that reflects their personal viewpoint and values.

Unions are about more than conference controversy. After consulting its members, Voice has moved from traditional debate-based conferences to CPD- based events open to members and non-members.

Big isn't necessarily beautiful. Not everybody wants to be part of a monolithic organisation. Many Voice members value the personal service they get from a smaller, independent organisation that is large enough to operate successfully on the national stage but knows many of its members personally.

Diversity of views is to be welcomed.

Jennifer Hannah, senior professional officer (Scotland), Voice: the union for education professionals.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now