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Trio put their election cards on the table

THE three contenders for the leadership of the third largest teachers'

union made their one and only official pitch to members this week.

The launch of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' general secretary election pits Gerald Imison, the joint acting general secretary, against Hank Roberts, a leading campaigner for a single union and Mary Bousted, the executive's preferred candidate.

Strict election rules mean that candidates are banned from canvassing members or speaking to the press and are restricted to a 400-word written statement.

Dr Bousted, head of Kingston University's school of education in Surrey, uses her statement to stress her "extensive experience" in education. A former secondary school English teacher, she says she is "acutely aware of the enormous pressures and strains which affect teachers' working lives".

She has been involved in the management of teacher-training colleges since 1991 and plans to target trainees in a recruitment drive.

Mr Imison, ATL deputy general secretary since 1995, highlights his experience as a "skilled national negotiator" and his understanding of the union's "unique ethos". On the workload deal, he talks of the need to stay in negotiations but to ensure that properly qualified staff teach every class.

In Mr Roberts's statement he points out that Dr Bousted has no union experience apart from National Union of Teachers and Association of University Teachers membership and that Mr Imison was rejected by the executive's selection panel.

With a seat on both the ATL and NUT executives and membership of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, he talks of the need to rebuild teacher-union unity to fight workload plans to allow assistants to take lessons unaccompanied.

He is the only serving teacher in the election and says that if elected he would cut the current general secretary salary of up to pound;107,000.

Around 112,000 of the ATL's 160,000 members are eligible to vote in the postal ballot which closes on April 7. The winner, in the first-past- the-post system, will succeed Peter Smith who retired last year owing to ill health.

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