Gove stands accused of ‘union busting’ as he backs private rival

 

A private company endorsed by Education Secretary Michael Gove has become the first in the country to offer legal advice and protection to teachers who are not members of a union.

Edapt, the brainchild of a former assistant headteacher John Roberts, is setting out to woo what it believes are thousands of teachers who have only joined unions because of the protection against abuse allegations and disciplinary proceedings they offer – but are reluctant to take industrial action.

The company, which is understood to have more than 1,000 teachers on its books after five months, is expecting to boost its numbers if teachers’ unions embark on industrial action this year. Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has already said strike action is “inevitable” if Mr Gove fails to soften his line on pay curbs, pension contribution increases and spending cuts.

The firm’s emergence comes at a time of war between Michael Gove and the teachers’ unions – with the Education Secretary seeking to weaken their stranglehold on the profession by reducing their numbers.

Edapt has already been praised by Mr Gove, below,as “a marvellous new organisation” and he is understood to want to make it easier for specialist firms like Edapt to represent teachers.At present the law states that teachers – as with other public servants – can only be represented by a colleague, union representative or legal officer appointed by a union.

Mr Roberts, who became one of the youngest teachers in the country to be appointed an assistant head four years ago at the age of 24, said: “During the time I was teaching I was asked ‘ have you joined a union?’. I said ‘no, do I need to?’

“The answer was you need it for support and protection in case a child makes an allegation against you.”

He added: “There was strike action while I was there and I didn’t want to get involved with it and in quite a lot of conversations with other staff I realised they didn’t want to get involved in it either.”

Mr Roberts, who became a teacher as part of the Teach First initiative, which parachutes top  graduates into inner city schools, said the firm had received financial support from former and serving teachers to get it started. It charges £12.50 a month to teachers who subscribe.

“We’re not anti-union,” he said.  “We just want to offer teachers an alternative to make them look like a profession rather than a workforce.”

Chris Keates, of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: “I don’t believe they’re any threat to us. I don’t think many teachers would want to join an organisation endorsed by Michael Gove.”

The private company endorsed by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has become the first in the country to offer legal advice and protection to teachers who are not members of a union.

Edapt, the brainchild of a former assistant headteacher John Roberts, is setting out to woo what it believes are thousands of teachers who have only joined unions because of the protection against abuse allegations and disciplinary proceedings they offer – but are reluctant to take industrial action.

The company, which is understood to have taken on more than 1,000 teachers in five months, is expecting to boost its numbers if teachers’ unions embark on industrial action this year. Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has said strike action is “inevitable” if Mr Gove fails to soften his line on pay curbs, pension contribution increases and spending cuts.

The firm’s emergence comes at a time of war between Michael Gove and the teachers’ unions – with the Education Secretary seeking to weaken their stranglehold on the profession by reducing their numbers.

Edapt has already been praised by the Education Secretary in a blog as “a marvellous new organisation” and Mr Gove, below, is understood to want to make it easier for specialist firms like Edapt to represent teachers. At present the law states that teachers – as with other public servants – can only be represented by a colleague, union representative or legal officer appointed by a union.

Mr Roberts, who became one of the youngest teachers in the country to be appointed an assistant head at the age of 24, said: “During the time I was teaching I was asked, ‘Have you joined a union?’ I said, ‘No, do I need to?’

“The answer was, ‘You need it for support and protection in case a child makes an allegation against you’.”

He added: “There was strike action while I was there and I didn’t want to get involved with it and in quite a lot of conversations with other staff I realised they didn’t want to get involved in it either.”

Mr Roberts said the firm had received financial support from former and serving teachers to get it started. It charges £12.50 a month to teachers who subscribe. “We’re not anti-union,” he said.  “We just want to offer teachers an alternative to make them look like a profession rather than a workforce.”

Chris Keates, of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: “I don’t believe they’re any threat to us. I don’t think many teachers would want to join an organisation endorsed by Michael Gove.”

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