Leicester District
National Education Union

1st February 2018

From the Archives: Other Unions

City of Leicester Teachers' Association was formed in 1869 and pre-dates the National Union of Teachers by a year, when a number of local teacher associations combined to form the National Union of Elementary Teachers following the 1870 education act. The name National Union of Teachers was adopted in 1889. Twenty years ago minute books for meetings dating back to 1903 were found in an attic and local officers Andrew Hind and Steve Ruffle put together a booklet using extracts from the minute book. This booklet, A Life of Continuous Strain, can be found on the Leicester NUT website.

As we merge with ATL to form NEU, I thought members might be interested in the history of the other teacher unions.

The origins of The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) go back to 1884 when 180 women met to create the Association of Assistant Mistresses (AAM). These women worked in schools founded for higher education of girls. Their concern was primarily for the pupils. However, in 1921, the AAM appointed representatives to the newly formed Burnham Committee on Salaries in Secondary Schools. 1891 saw the formation of the Association of Assistant Masters in Secondary Schools (AMA).

Its purpose was to protect and improve the conditions of service of secondary teachers. Between 1899 and 1908 it played an influential part in obtaining security of tenure for assistant teachers through the Endowed Schools Act.

Then in 1978 AAM and AMA merged to form the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association (AMMA) with a membership of approximately 75,000. The name was changed in 1993 to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). ATL affiliated to the TUC in 1999.

The origins of The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) can be traced back to the formation of the National Association of Men Teachers (NAMT) in 1919. The Association was formed as a group within the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to promote the interests of male teachers. The group existed alongside others within the NUT such as the National Federation of Class Teachers, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Federation of Women Teachers (later to become the National Union of Women Teachers).

The formation of the NAMT was in response to an NUT referendum the same year, approving the principle of equal pay. This major change in salary policy had been achieved whilst many male teachers were away serving in the army during the First World War.

A subsequent three-year campaign by the NAMT to further the interests of male teachers in the NUT saw its name changed in 1920 to the National Association of Schoolmasters (NAS) and finally resulted in secession of the NAS from the NUT in 1922. The secession came about indirectly following a decision at the NAS Conference that year to prohibit NAS members from continuing to also be members of the NUT after 31 December 1922.

The NAS aimed to recruit every schoolmaster into the NAS, to safeguard and promote the interests of male teachers, to ensure recognition of the social and economic responsibilities of male teachers, and to ensure the representation of schoolmasters on matters concerned with education with both the local education authorities (LEAs) and government. The NAS also maintained that all boys over the age of seven should be taught mainly by men and that schoolmasters should not serve under women heads.

As the secondary education sector expanded, the NAS built its organisation among male secondary teachers, it adopted the methods of collective bargaining and militant industrial action in pursuing a narrow range of pay and conditions issues related to the interests of full-time male 'career teachers'. The union secured a place on the Burnham committee to negotiate teachers' salaries in 1961, following a series of strikes and rallies. In 1976, the NAS merged with the Union of Women Teachers (UWT) largely as a consequence of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, which made it unlawful to exclude from membership on grounds of gender, and became the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NAS/UWT). In recent years, the slash has been dropped from the name.

In The City of Leicester Teachers' Association (NUT) Annual report of 1937, the secretary commented on the impact of the split on the effectiveness of teacher unions. Let's hope that members of NASUWT push their leadership to consider rejoining the NUT in the new NEU Union.