The premier union for teachers in England and Wales.

Proposed Amalgamation ATL/NUT: briefing notes

East London Teachers Association

Briefing for NUT Reps                       

Subject: Proposed amalgamation of NUT and ATL



The purpose of this briefing is to update NUT Reps and members on discussions between NUT and ATL and the proposal for the two unions to amalgamate and form a National Education Union.

 by Marion Wilson


  • For the last two years detailed discussions have been taking place between NUT and ATL about a possible amalgamation of the two unions.
  • These talks have involved staff, and elected officers, of both unions and have been reported to NUT Conference and NUT Executive.
  • These talks have taken place alongside a number of joint campaigns on education issues.
  • We have reached the stage where both Unions have agreed a number of key documents to allow this process to take place and wish to ballot their members for approval to go ahead with the amalgamation.
  • Both Unions are holding Special Conferences on Saturday November 5th to seek endorsement of these documents and approval for a ballot of members.


  • The proposal is that the NUT and ATL amalgamate to form the National Education Union (NEU) with effect from September 2017.
  • There will be a transitional period between September 2017 and January 2019, during which the NUT and ATL will continue to operate as “sections” within the new Union – during this period there will be a Joint Executive Council of both unions.
  • From 2019 the NEU will be fully operational with a new executive elected to take office from that period.


  • The combined membership of NUT and ATL is almost 500,000 this will make the National Education Union easily the largest education union and it will represent the majority of teachers – it will also be the fourth largest Union in the country.
  • Membership of the NEU will be open to teachers and school support staff.
  • The structures of the NEU will operate in much the same way as the NUT does now with Local Authority areas forming the base democratic unit – these will be called Districts – members will still pay a local subscription to the District who will be able to allocate spending within union rules.
  • Provision will be made for members with different employers, such as MATs, to meet and discuss issues and represent members as “branches” – members of these branches will still be members of local Districts.
  • The NEU will have joint General Secretaries until 2023 at which point there will be an election for a single GS.
  • The executive of NEU will continue to be elected on a geographical basis but will be conducted so as to ensure that at least 50% of the new executive are women.
  • The executive of the new Union will continue to have seats representing Black, Disabled and LGBT+ members – in addition to this there will be sector seats for i) support staff ii) Post 16 and iii) the independent sector.


  • I fully support the proposed amalgamation – professional unity has been a long cherished goal of the NUT and this is a very significant step towards that;
  • The existence of so many unions representing teachers has been a problem for decades – it has made it easier for successive governments to push through policies and different unions held different priorities.
  • In recent years valuable resources and time have been directed at the “membership battle” between unions.
  • The education landscape is changing rapidly – more and more decisions are either made or implemented at school level and so the need to have a well trained, confident Rep in every school becomes ever more urgent
  • Aside from the obvious membership gain, perhaps the most significant aspect of the new union is that it will take Teaching Assistants into membership – this is a very positive step but one with a number of implications, and we will need to make sure that all members are treated equally and given an equal voice.
  • I believe that the formation of a new Union between the NUT and ATL will break the log-jam that has existed on teacher unity for too long and it is to be hoped that this is just the beginning.
  • We do want Reps to discuss this in schools and we bring a report to our next meeting on October 17th
Next meeting: Monday December 10, 7pm All welcome