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The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) is currently balloting its members about uniting with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to form a new education union, and NUT is doing likewise. Voting closes on March 21st and the results will be announced the following day.
In this exclusive interview, ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted answers ISM’s questions about the proposed merger, and its potential impact for members in independent schools...
Bicycle Project
Hymers College, Yorkshire, has a new partnership with The Avenues Bicycle Project by offering the school’s grounds and facilities to support their 2017 bicycle appeal.
The Avenues Bicycle Project recycles bicycles for the bene t of children, young people and adults in both Hull and its partner city, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Chris Jarrell, The Avenues Bike Project co-ordinator, says “Hymers has quite literally come to our rescue just when we thought we were going to have to hang up our cycling helmets and call it a day. The Headmaster’s offer of storage space for our bicycles has secured the charity’s medium to long term future, meaning we can continue to support the schoolchildren in Sierra Leone.”
The Avenues Bicycle Project is now in its sixth year and has sent over 2400 bikes to West Africa since 2011. If you have an unwanted bike, spare parts or bike tools
you can donate to the project by calling 07715 307 942 or emailing
Skilful debate
The Milton Abbey Prep Schools’ Debating Competition, now in its third year, involved 30 young people from seven schools in an afternoon which included a workshop on debating and public skills. After thirty minutes of intense preparation the teams took part in a competition in front of an audience in the
New Barn Theatre and judged by Magnus Bashaarat, Milton Abbey’s Headmaster. All teams performed extremely well and the winning team was from Sunninghill Prep School.
Schools taking part in the competition were: Castle Court School, Dumpton School, Farleigh School, Forres Sandle Manor School, Hanford School, Sandroyd School and Sunninghill Prep School.
best service while keeping the cost to a minimum. And while there could never be a future- proof guarantee, the member committee that determines subscription rates is acutely aware of members’  nances.
ISM: Rosamund McNeil, head
of education at the NUT, has voiced opposition to the ISC’s idea for joint public-private funding for 10,000 new places at independent schools. Does ATL share NUT’s view? What will the stance of the merged union be?
MB: ATL has not commented in detail on this proposal from the ISC. In the Programme of Talks between the Government and the unions, we have discussed the Government’s proposals, in the Green Paper (Schools that work for everyone), for independent schools to offer a signi cantly higher proportion of places to pupils from the state sector who could otherwise not afford to attend. We pointed out that paying for new places in independent schools will not help to raise standards in the state sector, which has been the Government’s justi cation for its policy.
We are clear that it is right and proper that all organisations enjoying the advantage of charitable status, including independent educational establishments, robustly demonstrate a public bene t.
In regulating this test, the Government should provide clear guidance of the type of activity and the degree to which it would satisfy the requirement.
The requirement should take
into account the resources of
the establishment, so that the test is applied proportionately
to the organisation’s means.
The independent sector is
made up of many different
types of organisations with very different levels of resources.
ATL’s policy was developed by ATL’s Independent & Private Sector Advisory Group, following a motion passed at annual conference, and is supported by a brie ng and guidance document produced by ATL’s National Of cial for Independent Schools.
In terms of the policy stance
the new union would adopt towards independent schools, the starting point would be the policy positions of ATL and NUT. As
with all policy matters, that stance would be subject to amendment by the new union’s annual conference and national executive. As this would be a new union, and not a merger, we would need to address these questions through the annual conference and the national executive, with policy built on strong evidence from
the sector. Once the transition
to create the new union was complete there would be an annual sector conference for independent school members that would be able to submit a motion to the annual conference of the new union.
ISM: If an ATL member at
an independent school is still undecided how to cast their ballot vote as the March 21st deadline approaches, what three
points would you raise to try and convince them to vote ‘Yes’.
MB: First, you would have
more members and a stronger voice where it really matters
– in your workplace. Our two unions combined would have in the region of 30,000 members working in the independent sector. That is a signi cant membership. Together with your colleagues, you would make the decisions appropriate to you and your school. You would do so with greater collective authority and an enhanced ability to in uence decisions.
Second, you would have a stronger voice in discussions within the sector and greater in uence at the national level. While national policy may not always directly affect you,
it often does indirectly. For example, the principles and good practice on workload that ATL, with others, were able to negotiate as part of the social partnership, acted as helpful benchmarks for many of our members in the independent sector to improve their workload in their school.
Third, you would be part of a larger union, with more resources, offering more opportunities, more CPD, more events to develop your professional skills for your own bene t and the bene t of your students. You would be part of an exciting development with dynamic possibilities – it’s your union, so I urge you to get involved and make your voice heard.
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