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Teaching Unions See Over 50,000 New Members Amid Job Security Concerns

Mon Aug 31 2020

The COVID pandemic has seen a surge in teachers and teaching staff signing up to Trade Unions seeking better health & job security

The National Education Union (NEU), has seen well over 50,000 new members join their ranks since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. That number puts Britain’s largest Teaching Union membership and nearly half a million fee paying members.

However, it’s not just the NEU.

Due to concerns around classroom sizes, social distancing, bubbling, wearing masks/not wearing masks and job security, many other Trade Unions in the Education sector have reported record numbers of joiners during lockdown.


  • Unison has reported an increase of 24,000 new members since March
  • Unite and GMB have both been quoted as saying they’ve had “tens of thousands” sign up from March this year
  • The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has seen it’s membership base rise from 20,000 to over 21,500
  • The NASUWT has also reported significant numbers of new members.
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ASCL membership was increasing before the pandemic began and has continued to rise over the past six months, with nearly 1,500 new members joining the association. During that period, we have been sending out bulletins to members on almost a daily basis, as well as running webinars, and providing a great deal of information and support on our website, including a regularly updated set of frequently asked questions. We have received very positive feedback from our members, and we know that this has contributed to the rise in membership we have seen. We are very grateful to all those who have put their faith in us and we will continue to do everything possible to support them at this challenging time and beyond.

Geoff Barton - General Secretary, Association Of School And College Leaders

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In a recent statement the NEU estimated that of their 50,000 new members, over 10,000 joined within the first few weeks of lockdown, reaching 20,000 by May and nearly 30,000 by July, although official figures won’t be made public until next year.

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Our new membership has increased substantially since March. The reason is very simple - we have been consistently amplifying the voice of teachers, heads and school staff, who are working hard for every young person in their care but are too often traduced by this government. In deeply uncertain times, where far too many loved ones have lost their lives to Covid, unions are playing a crucial role in ensuring all workers are protected. Rarely has it been truer to say that we are stronger together.

Kevin Courtney - Joint General Secretary, National Education Union

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The NEU have put part of this rise in membership down to their work with TUC YouTube workshops in which they shared some of their best practice polices with other unions, such as how they mobilised their teacher and support staff members during lockdown via a variety of techniques that included Zoom calls, mass town hall phone calls, texts, Facebook Groups and it’s new app.

Their app, which has proved immensely popular with their members, worked as a ‘checklist’ that allowed staff to see if their school was sticking to the five-point list of benchmarks that the NEU thought was required before a school was safe to open last term.

The checklist was completed by teachers and support staff with the findings being sent to Heads of individual schools, allowing them to decide if it was safe for them to re-open or not.


NEU has now created a fresh checklist on their app for its members to access how safe schools re-opening this month are and is continuing to call on the Government for  better contingency planning with local outbreaks of coronavirus, or a second, nationwide wave, that might once again force schools to close.

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Mon Aug 31 2020

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