Should we get the Unions we deserve or deserve the Unions we get?

The event that started me blogging a few days ago was my reading about the recent Primary Curriculum meeting at the Department of Education. This meeting is covered by blogs from @emmaannhardy @heymisssmith and @imagineenquiry so check them out.

My initial question was not so much why them – as I follow them all – but more why not the teaching unions, if not instead then at least as well.

People have been kind enough to read my thoughts and respond – @teachertoolkit points out that the teaching unions are out of touch – which in turn got me thinking about how this could be.

I have been a member of teaching union my entire career – not that I have engaged much. I rarely vote and generally read about half of the emails they send me – yet here I am wondering they were not invited and pondering if they might be out of touch.

In truth, I suppose I have regarded then as an insurance policy, something to call upon if I need them.

The edu bloggers on the other hand I know pretty much their thoughts – read their tweets and their blogs when I can.

May be the answer is simple – engage more to have your views heard – or maybe I should expect more from my membership? Perhaps a mix of the two?

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9 thoughts on “Should we get the Unions we deserve or deserve the Unions we get?

  1. The Unions are all much more than an insurance company and NUT is democratic. They’ve just had their executive elections and the executive determine the path the union follows, it’s a shame you didn’t vote. However, there is a general secretary election coming up. They also offer a range of courses and an ‘expert’ blog where people are asked to write about education issues. Old Andrew recently wrote one on Ofsted. If you check out the courses you’ll find a great one on Year of the Curriculum.

    In my division we have arranged teach meets to discuss teaching and share ideas and I know a number of divisions are doing the same.

    I don’t see fighting against increased teacher workload or asking for qualified teachers or questioning the merits of PRP as being out of touch. These are issues that directly impact upon teaching in schools.

    Maybe they didn’t get invited because of the way this government view trade unions in general? Perhaps the DFE would rather debate with individuals because they find it easier?

    I would suggest that if you want more from your union then contact your division with any ideas you have and in sure they will welcome your suggestions and input.

  2. A key component of the media’s contribution to the GERM (as well as individuals like Murdoch making millions) is to perpetuate the myth that Teaching Unions are “out of touch” – they do this in an attempt to drive down membership and, thereby, opposition to the industrialisation of education. However there is a flaw in their plan ….. 95% of teachers are in teaching Unions. Teachers are one of the most intelligent (well – at least in terms of qualifications) workforces and would leave in droves, perhaps joining cheaper alternatives, if they though that Unions have had their day.

  3. Patrick Murphy says:

    The point you appear to be making here is strange one Chris. Correct me if I have got this wrong but is your criticism if the teacher unions that they were not invited to the discussion at the DfE? If so surely the criticism should be directed at those who sent out the invites. I don’t think there is any doubt that, if invited, they would be happy to attend and would have an awful lot to say about the curriculum, accountability, testing and so on. Certainly the one I know best, the NUT, would. The other thing you might do is consider why, given their expertise and the fact that 94% of teachers are members! they were not invited.

    The fact is that the current government refuses to engage with teacher unions even in the issues which are core to their existence (pay, pensions and working conditions) so there seems little chance they will engage with us on the wider educational issues. It sounds as though those who attended the meeting did a very good job of getting the key issues across and I hope that DfE officials for the message that the classroom teacher and the NUT speak with one voice on most of the key issues.

  4. Unions should do MUCH more to engage with their members. We pay for the “insurance policy” and beyond that; you; me and a.n.other know nothing else about what to do to engage with our unions. Some are more proactive in developing your CPD; asking for opinions…etc. but they could do much more for the profession, but looking at examples of teachers on Twittersphere. TeachMeets as one example. @LabourTeachers are a good example of this.

    • In my division we have sent out surveys asking members what CPD they would like to attend. We have also arranged teachmeets and my local NUT were involved in a joint local Hull education event with Stephen Twigg and Alan Johnson. This event was a joint event with my local Labour branch, NUT and part of Labour teachers.

      Information on the two local teach meets I jointly arranged are on my blog. http://emmaannhardy.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/hull-and-east-riding-teachmeet2/ The Stephen Twigg/Alan Johnson event were on the previous Labour Teachers blog before they moved sites.

      You can read about it here, written by one of the attendees. http://dermotrathbone.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/emma-hardys-labour-party-nut-debate-with-stephen-twigg/

      In my experience, if you want something from your union then just ask. Most likely there are events going on already but if there isn’t then I’m sure they will help you arrange something.

      There is also the National Education Conference which is a separate event from the conference about to be held in Brighton. https://www.teachers.org.uk/nec

    • How could I forget! The NUT are also one of the joint sponsors of Northern Rocks. http://northernrocks2014.wordpress.com/sponsors/ Kevin Courtney the NUT Deputy General Secretary is also speaking on the panel at the beginning of the event to discuss the media perception of teachers. @cyclingkev

      Each NUT ‘area’ is represented on twitter and engage with teachers there. Many also have Facebook pages where they post information on what they are doing and engage with members.

      • Having left the NUT, maybe I don’t come across their work as much. I’m sure people are working hard across the country to engage colleagues. When I was a member, the website alone was a huge source of vital information.

  5. Equally on @teacherROAR or “NUT National Union of Teachers” on Facebook – both excellent examples of teacher empowerment. Thousands of teachers engaging. What is your point TeacherToolKit? Are we too critical of the current assault on Education? … Something that you don’t seem to be overly concerned with via your tweets.

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