With the creation of a "super-union", following the merger of the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, and the obvious attacks being made on state education by the Tory government, there could not be a more appropriate time for teacher representation to be strengthened further (Teachers` groups merge to form super-union,23/03/17). The newly created National Education Union, with "more than 450,000 members", would be far more of a "game-changer" if it also included the 320,000 teachers in the NASUWT union. Howard Stevenson is right to say that "governments deliberately seek to exploit divisions". Many times in the duration of my career, industrial action by one of the main unions was undermined by the non-action of the other, with the government subsequently able to claim that, as only a small proportion of teachers were involved, the issue was clearly of little consequence, and undeserving of its attention!
Laura McInenerney predicted earlier this week that schools could be soon "stripped back to basic entitlements", with increases in tutoring and parent contributions soon to be the norm (The Tory dream: no frills unless you pay, 21/03/17). A united front is needed to change current government thinking, improve teacher recruitment, and campaign for better pay and conditions. This merger has shown how unions can work with joint-leadership and shared values, but with the exclusion of a major teaching union, the "divide and rule" policy will still be available to governments. In times like this, when state education faces an existential threat, teachers need their leaders to speak "with one voice". Talks about further amalgamation should begin immediately.
Alas, Miles Secker is way off the mark (Letters, 28/03/17). All too often headteachers are appointed without having been "thoroughly tested over years as classroom teachers, department heads, then assistant and deputy heads". In fact, in my experience, far too many candidates with exactly that background have been overlooked, whilst the ones willing to support the latest educational fad, to make unnecessary changes, or to use meaningless jargon in the interview, were appointed. Within days, staff and pupils knew the wrong person had got the job, with the inevitable result that the school entered a period of decline.
If heads could all draw "on a deep fund of thought and experience", education today would be in a far better place!