For this reason ATL has a highly responsive and democratic way of involving members in the policy-making process, at the heart of which are its specialist task groups (STGs).
STGs offer members the opportunity to develop policy that informs ATL's voice at all levels, influence government and engage in stimulating professional discussions with peers.
STGs are groups of members set up to develop ATL's policy on a particular issue. That policy, often expressed in a position statement, is used to inform ATL's campaigns and negotiations with government.
STGs are limited in their lifespan with a single-issue focus. There are face-to-face STGs, where a group of between eight and 12 members meet a specified number of times, supported by email communication between meetings. We also have larger email STGs where virtual networks discuss particular issues in order to support the work of the face-to-face STG.
The world of education policy is often fast-moving, requiring organisations such as ATL to respond quickly. STGs are designed to meet that need with timely, fast, focused and informed outputs. Also, as a growing organisation, the flexibility of STGs enables all members to get involved, no matter what their family/work commitments or previous level of union activity.
ATL members outline the organisation's policy direction throughout the year through ATL's annual Conference and its policy council.
Policy Council consists of 20 members elected from the Executive Committee. It meets between Executive meetings in order to identify areas for policy development, to establish STGs and to appoint the convenor for each STG.
The convenor is encouraged to seek members with the appropriate expertise from across the Association. ATL uses surveys, Report magazine and website publicity, our policy networks and the branches, with the aim of finding a variety of member opinions, experience and expertise.
ATL's in-house education team also looks at its own database of members who have previously expressed interest in given topics.
STGs in practice
Once the STG is formed, ATL staff support members of the group with important research summaries and references, located in the political context in which policy is developed. Face-to-face meetings and virtual discussions are structured around key questions to be addressed against the background of member experience and research.
Writing of the policy is usually done outside the meetings by the supporting staff member, who follows the brief and outline developed by the group. It is the role of staff to provide a very high level of support to the group so that members can concentrate on their expertise and not be swamped by the process.
Once the work of the STG is completed, the outcome, usually in the form of a written statement or a proposal for further work, is presented to ATL's Executive committee for approval.
For current task groups, click here.
Recent STGs have developed policy on:
- the national curriculum
- working time
- teacher summative assessment
- social exclusion in rural areas
- pupil voice
- homophobia and sexism
- school governance.
Need further advice?
Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.
I've done quite a bit of work with ATL on education issues and my head said it's the best type of professional development I ever could have had.
Julia Neal, past president