Why I'm voting YES: we need a strong and united voice

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27 February 2017 by ATL
This is my 41st year working in primary education. I took early retirement from a headship eight years ago, but after unexpectedly losing my husband shortly after, I returned to the classroom as a specialist numeracy intervention teacher.
Children running in the playground

I’ve been at ATL member for around 20 years, and as a former NUT member and rep, I have a strong belief in the power of unions to improve the lives of teachers and to represent their views to government.

We’re facing a period of immense challenges across the profession. In the classroom we’re seeing poor behaviour, children in distress due to poor housing, benefit cuts, increasing class sizes, decreasing funding, a curriculum which puts undue focus on rote learning, overload of administration, data collection and assessment. And for the profession as a whole we have poor wages, reduced local authority support, poor regard by central government, the pressure placed on us by Ofsted and its punitive inspection process, and a crisis in the recruitment of teachers, especially at a senior level.

Now, more than ever, we need a strong and united voice to oppose the destructive policies which affect both teachers and learners alike. I am wholeheartedly in favour of the National Education Union; it represents a new beginning and a chance to convince government that we are essential to the future of the nation and as such, deserving of respect, fair pay and working conditions in the pursuit of educating our young people.

Margaret Neal is a retired head who now works part-time providing PPA cover in a community primary school in East Sussex

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