Thursday's meeting of the NUT Organising and Membership Committee reported a very positive and welcome growth in NUT membership over the past few months. This is great news for the Union, particularly in the context of continuous growth over recent years and 2013 being the 4th consecutive year in which our growth rate has outstripped that of our closest sister union.
I feel I should explain these comments, both as a vocal supporter of professional unity and as someone who believes that a union is much more than its membership figures.
I believe that the NUT's ongoing growth is good for all of our members and for the teaching profession as a whole.
Firstly, an increase in numerical strength means an increase in our bargaining strength and our political influence. Michael Gove and his friends in government may not want to listen to us but, as the largest teachers' union, with well over 300,000 members, he cannot ignore us. Even when he disagrees with what we have to say, he has to respond to us. The recent talks with government have shown this. In spite of their refusal to discuss the key issues and Michael Gove's failure to attend, they have been forced to offer some concessions by the action taken by the NUT.
Secondly, an increase in membership shows that the path the NUT has taken over the past few years has been the correct one. As we have worked to become a Union not just for, but of, our members and to involve all of them in taking decisions and carrying them out, more and more teachers have flocked to join us. Those who argue that all teachers care about is their own working conditions and a voice at the end of the phone when something happens have been proved wrong. Teachers care deeply about the future of our education system and, by giving them an opportunity to do something about that, the NUT has grown.
Thirdly, our new members don't just make us a bigger union. They make us a better union. Every teacher who joins the NUT comes with their own views about teaching, about politics and about society. And in our Union, they are invited to contribute those views to the collective voice. As the NUT grows, we can speak more genuinely for all teachers, for their hopes and aspirations. The contribution of every member makes us a stronger union, a more representative union and a better union.
Finally, the most important reason is that the growth of the NUT brings us closer to the day when there will be a single union for all teachers. This is not because the NUT alone can grow to encompass the entire profession but because, as the union which has consistently campaigned for professional unity, a growth in the NUT represents a growth in the view that teachers should be united.
The NUT is no longer a lone voice calling for professional unity and we look forward to working with our sister unions to achieve a single teachers' union. Our growth in membership is a contribution towards this cause.