Schools should scrap full time union reps

New guidance from the DfE states that no teacher funded by the taxpayer should work full-time for their union, saving over £14 million per year.

Schools and local authorities have been told that they should end any agreements that allow their teaching staff to work as full-time union representatives, The Independent reports. The DfE guidance says that it should usually be possible to carry out their duties in one day a week or less.

The guidance follows research from the Taxpayers’ Alliance that about £14.5 million a year is spent funding teachers’ union activities, the equivalent of 427 full-time teaching jobs. “Teachers are paid to work in the classroom,” said Schools Minister David Laws. “Clearly, effective representation of teachers can play an important role in our schools, but taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be funding union reps to spend little or no time actually teaching.”

Teachers’ unions are angry about the guidance, claiming that trade union representation saves money by settling disputes. The NUT’s Christine Blower said: “We believe that schools will continue to recognise both their statutory responsibilities and the value of facilities time, which encourages the early resolution of disputes and avoids the costs associated with long disputes. This guidance is unnecessary.”  Mary Bousted from the ATL added: “Today’s Department for Education advice is a one-size-fits-all approach and is simply not workable. The DfE’s advice is an unnecessary obstruction.”

How important is having a full-time union rep to you? Do you think they could fulfil the role in a day or less? Share your views with the Eteach community!

6 thoughts on “Schools should scrap full time union reps

  1. I agree. If full-time union representatives are needed they should be funded from subscriptions, not taxes.

  2. Underestimating the value of full time union employees only fuels the anger in teachers who wish to recieve a fair living wage for their efforts, and therefore revieve strong representation through their union. This reminds me of the eighties when the Government encouraged this atmosphere toward representation in order to keep wages as low as possible. If they want to encourage new teachers to stay in the profession at the same time as increase the standards in the classroom through better preperation such as on-going updated annual teacher training then teachers should recieve improved representation. After all, MP’s have recieved a pay increase without too much legal opposition.

  3. This is total misrepresentation. Unions pay schools ‘FACILITY’S ‘ time payments to cover teachers time out. At cover teacher rate.


  4. The union is an essential facility for teachers, especially in the witch hunting days of today. Successive governments of all shades of grey and society itself have created a hellish environment where a professional teacher can be vilified by management for putting a single step out of line or refusing to “tow the line”. Some schools can be vindictive environments and I am sure that expensive (read “experienced”) teachers are systematically bullied from their posts as a direct result of “acadamisation” other wise known as the back door privatisation of our schools and the corporate vampires ever rising demand to make schools profitable businesses.

  5. Sorry to say it, but public correspondence should not contain any errors of spelling or grammar. Any chance for criticism of teachers’ own standards by hostile commentators is likely to be eagerly taken. The issue is very important, and the points are fairly made.

  6. OK – let’s agree with the proposal just so long as MPs are funded by their particular party and not the tax payer!

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