Do I need to join a teaching union is a question which many school staff ask when entering the profession.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no statutory requirement for teachers to be a member of a teaching union.
Why is it then that when new teachers join the profession that they are encouraged or even feel pressured to join a teaching union as soon as possible?
This could be for a range of reasons:
- Peer pressure from other colleagues to join the same teaching union as their school/department
- To have teaching union support and advice in case of false allegations from pupils, staff or parents
- General employment advice on pay, maternity leave, paternity pay, sick leave, teacher wellbeing
- Support for campaigning and political lobbying and continual professional development (CPD)
What if there was an alternative to being in a teaching union and you can still access legal support and advice in case of malicious allegations without having to support political campaigning and initiatives?
“I just want employment support but don’t want to support the political aims of a teaching union”
Edapt, the teaching union alternative, provides a different option for school staff looking for high-quality employment support without supporting political campaigning and union-related activities.
We provide teachers and school staff with casework services and edu-legal support in individual employment disputes and allegations in England and Wales. We’re apolitical and independent.
Some of the main reasons for school staff switching to Edapt recently include:
- Disillusionment with the teaching unions
- Unable to access timely support when they need it (emails and phone calls not being responded to quickly enough. We operate extended opening hours from 8am – 7pm Monday to Friday and you can always talk to another human being straight away)
- Quality of support and advice provided and the personalised approach by Edapt
- Cost (Edapt is the most cost efficient choice for full-time teaching staff)
- In depth knowledge of the teaching profession and employment law
Do I need to join a teaching union? What are the risk if I decide to go without any support?
Defending yourself through an allegation, disciplinary process or even a Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) hearing on your own would be incredibly difficult and even more problematic to secure a positive outcome in your favour.
It would also be extremely expensive, securing legal advice and accompaniment which could be well in excess of £5,000.
A significant case which proceeds to employment tribunal or TRA hearing could indeed lead to costs in the tens of thousands of pounds. The emotional impact of navigating the process yourself would also be very personally demanding.
Even though you might think the worst-case scenario couldn’t happen to you we talk to teachers every week with unblemished records who receive allegations from pupils, parents and members of staff which can put their career, livelihood and families in jeopardy.
Also, it’s not just the major cases where most school staff need support. It is often checking details with employment contracts, working hours and sick leave where we can provide independent support and advice with positive outcomes.
Why do school staff decide not to subscribe?
There doesn’t seem to be any recent research which indicates why some school staff decide not to be supported by an organisation such as Edapt or a teaching trade union. It could be due to a range of issues from:
- Expectation that they won’t receive any allegations or issues during their employment in school
- Previous negative experiences of support either with quality of advice or availability of regional reps in a trade union
- Awareness of the importance of signing up and not being aware of the reputational and financial risks
- Paying subscription fees which go towards activities which they are not affiliated with (Edapt is apolitical and does not have a political fund)
- Lack of time to subscribe (it takes less than 5 minutes to subscribe to Edapt)
- Influence from other members of staff who have decided not to subscribe
- Moving to teach in England or Wales for the first having trained in a different country
Surprisingly, trade union membership in the education sector is just less than 50% of the workforce.
This takes into account a high proportion of teaching staff who are supported by Edapt or teaching union, with lower uptake from support staff such as teaching assistants. This still leaves 100,000s of school staff who are currently unsupported.
This is a worrying statistic as it means many school staff are at financial and reputational risk of having their careers severely impacted due to a false allegation from a pupil or an issue such as restructuring in school.
What support can I receive if I subscribe to Edapt?
Edapt provides teachers and school staff with casework services and edu-legal support in individual employment disputes and allegations. Our team supports our subscribers individually, with integrity, consistency and with confidentiality.
If you subscribe to Edapt you will receive:
- High-quality, experienced and legally trained caseworkers working on your case
- Up to £150,000 of legal costs should you need it for an employment tribunal, or professional conduct hearing
- Extended opening hours. Access to support and advice from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday
- Access to our Knowledge Base of support articles where you can research topics from performance-related pay, what to expect in an investigatory meeting to whether you are expected to attend school in extreme weather conditions
- Our monthly Policy Insights Newsletter (you can opt-in) and receive invites to our exclusive education events
- PR advice and media support if your case is published in the media