The Department for Education (DfE) has quietly published a survey which confirms many teachers are ignoring work-to-rule directives laid down by teachers unions – because they join unions primarily for protection and support in the workplace.

The findings of the NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey” Understanding union membership and activity” (link here) published on the DfE website last Friday night shows that only 9% of teachers believe work to rule is having any impact, with 76% giving their primary reason for the belief as “because staff are not working to rule”.

But the NFER research reveals 72% of teachers surveyed say they joined a union for support in case they have a problem at work.

John Roberts, Chief Executive of Edapt, says that more and more independent research is giving a clear indication that teachers are becoming increasingly cynical about strike action as an effective option.

“The results of the survey from the DfE clearly reflect the findings of an independent survey Edapt commissioned last year. It shows that teachers do not join trade unions to take part in industrial action, but primarily join them for support in case of an individual employment issue or allegation from a pupil,” said John Roberts.

“Clearly the appetite for industrial action is small across the profession; the current action short of strike action is being ignored by over 90% of the profession. However, an active and vocal minority continue to influence public perception of the teaching profession in a way that is seen as political, and harmful, by many teachers.

“Edapt, as an apolitical and non-trade-union service, provides the teaching profession with what we believe teachers have been crying out for, support and protection when it is needed, from independent legal professionals, without collectivism or activism. In a recent feedback survey our teachers commented: ‘…an organisation I’ve waited 30 years for. I didn’t want to be involved in the politics of a union and I didn’t want to work to rule, but I still wanted protection.’

“Very little research has previously taken place into understanding unionisation within the teaching profession. The DfE research clearly follows on from an Edapt-commissioned independent study from 2012 which produced very similar findings to that from the DfE research, showing that many teachers do join unions purely for certain core protections. These core protections can now be sourced from a non-union alternative such as Edapt.”

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