Recruitment case study

Carla and Roisin. 

Roisin Kelly and Carla Topham, joint winners of the 2021/22 NEU Rep of the Year award, managed to triple the number of NEU members in their school but it wasn’t always plain sailing. “We struggled initially to get people to join the union. They were scared of what it might entail and didn't want to cause any problems or trouble. When we started to have wins with our disputes, more and more people joined the union. This gave people the confidence that there was safety in numbers,” Roisin explained.

Ask the question

It may sound obvious but the first step in recruiting new members is to ask colleagues to join. You don’t have to be a rep to do this. Any NEU member can invite colleagues to join the union. It’s particularly important to ask new starters, trainees, and ECTs. Carla and Roisin agree: 

“We approach any new teachers and encourage them to join a union.”

Make the union visible

It’s also important that the union is visible at work. Posters, leaflets and membership forms are sent into all NEU workplaces in September and January. Officers can order more materials via the NEU website and reps can order materials through their district. Carla and Roisin made sure they promoted the union at every opportunity: 

“We have a wall of information, WhatsApp group, meetings and we are always approachable should our members need anything.”

Allay people’s fears

Usually, if people aren’t union members, it’s because they’ve never been asked but sometimes it’s because they’re worried about what union membership entails. Roisin explains: 

“Fear is a big reason people give for not wanting to join, especially if there are ongoing issues in a workplace. Also not wanting to strike stops people. Nobody likes to strike but, in our situation, it started an open dialogue where a lot of things were resolved for the school.”



The NEU’s strength comes from having a strong, active, and engaged membership in workplaces up and down the country. No union can exist without its members. And no union can take its membership for granted.

recruitment graphic green

Who can join the NEU?

The NEU is a union for all education professionals so everyone in your workplace is welcome to join.

NEU2280 Join us leaflet

Recruitment materials

Order all trainee and general recruitment materials including application forms, flyers and posters, along with recruitment publications for leaders and educational professionals

Rep's guide to recruitment graphic cover

Reps’ guide to recruitment

This guide covers everything you need to know to recruit new members – from how to have recruitment conversations, to ordering recruitment materials for your noticeboard.

Back to top