There are a number of different teaching unions. The unions are, in alphabetical order:

  • Association of Teacher and Lectures (ATL)
  • National Association of Head teachers (NAHT)
  • National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT)
  • National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE)
  • National Union of Teachers (NUT)
  • Professional Association of Teachers (PAT)
  • Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA)
  • Secondary Heads Association (SHA)

Where union you choose depends entirely on your own personal preference. It could be that you find one particular union more responsive and efficient in dealing with your initial enquiries; it might be that you have a particular stance on an issue connected to teaching (such as whether strike action is or is not acceptable), and you feel that one of the unions best represents your own philosophy; alternatively it might just be that you get on well with a particular union rep in your school.There is absolutely no obligation for teachers to join a union. However, there are a number of very good reasons why you might consider union membership:

  • Legal advice: The legal representation that the unions offer is becoming increasingly important for teachers, with the threat of legal action ever present.
  • Support: The unions offer a useful support service and many have help lines that members can call with any questions that they have.
  • Getting your voice heard: Membership of a union gives you a chance to have your say in debates about the teaching profession.
  • Campaigning for Teachers: The unions do important campaigning work to try and make conditions better for teachers.
  • Discounts: There are many discounted services on offer, such as cheap car and travel insurance.

Professional Association of Teachers (PAT)

Website: www.pat.org.uk

Q.When was PAT set up and why?


IN 1970 by a group of teachers who, having seen the effects of teachers strike action on pupils, wished to commit themselves to the principle of not striking.

Q. How is PAT looking to raise its profile as teachers union?

A. By increased media coverage, through advertising, exhibitions and seminars, and on the internet.

What makes PAT special?

A. Its:

  • No-industrial action rule-putting children and students first
  • Independence from the TUC/STUC and all political parties
  • UK-wide representation
  • Commitment to representing the whole team form nursery to tertiary teachers, heads and support staff, as well as lecturers, nursery nurses, nannies and other child carers in the public and private sectors
  • More personal approach

Q. What benefits could a teacher expect on joining the union?

A. These are wide-ranging. You can see full details at the Membership Benefits page of the website.

Q. What forms of ongoing support does PAT offer to its members?

A. Help, advice and representation on practice pay and conditions nationally and locally, plus information in journals, advice publications and on the website.

Q. Which educational issues does PAT feel are of most importance to the profession?

A. A national register of child carers; commitment to improved working conditions for all in childcare and education; a rationalization of salaries and carcer structures for the ‘Whole Team’ in education; funding to be provided to maintain: staff and pupil ratios, the use of mentors, continued staff development and links with training agencies; successful implementation of the Workforce Agreement, the effects of Single Status, pupil behaviour, class sizes, implementation of the Every Child Mattes agenda and Extended Schools, parity of pay with teachers for FE lectures in England, the role of classroom assistant and implementation of McCrone.

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