When and where to recruit
You can recruit members at any time of year but start of the academic year is when most NEU recruitment activity takes place.
You may have new ECTs (England), NQTs (Wales) or new trainees on school-based courses like School Direct or Teach First starting in your workplace. There may be other new starters too; experienced staff who’ve moved to your workplace from another.
Just talking to your colleagues is an important part of making yourself visible as a union rep and letting people know how to join the union. Posters for your staff noticeboard and membership forms are sent to all NEU workplaces in September and January each year so keep an eye out for these. If you don’t have posters for your noticeboard and there’s no rep in your school, you can contact your district to request noticeboard materials.
If you meet new colleagues in the staff room, on INSET days, or at staff social events, don’t forget to ask them if they’ve joined the union yet.
If you’ve never recruited someone to the union before, it can feel a bit daunting opening up a conversation about joining. Even if it feels awkward at first, remember that it gets easier having these conversations with practice.
Talking to people about joining shouldn’t be difficult though. Think about why you joined. What do you value about the union? If you know why you joined then you already know how to talk to a potential member about joining. You can tell them:
Who we are and what we do
It’s important not to make any assumptions about what people know already. If someone doesn’t really know what the NEU is or what we do, that’s fine. You don’t need to be an expert on the history of the trade union movement. You just need to be able to clearly explain what the NEU is and what it does. You might want to explain that the NEU is the largest education union in the UK.
What tangible benefits they get out of membership
Talk about a few benefits of joining. Members benefit from being able to address workplace issues collectively as well as getting workplace representation if they have a problem at work. There is also a free AdviceLine for members, legal representation, and free insurance if they are injured at work or if their property is damaged or stolen at work. The NEU’s national professional development programme with short webinars and longer CPD courses is also an important benefit.
What it costs
You don’t need to know all the different membership rates. You can simply point them to the join pages to find out how much they’ll pay. It’s worth remembering that it’s free for students or trainees to join and it’s only £1 for members in their first year after qualifying to teach. There are different rates for standard, support, leadership, retired, and associate members.
That it’s normal to join
The NEU is the biggest education union in the country and the education sector has one of the largest trade union memberships in the UK. Reassure them that joining the NEU is not an unusual thing to do – it will not mark them out as a troublemaker.
That it’s easy to join
There’s nothing to stop someone from joining straight away. Even if you don’t have any membership forms to hand, you can point them to neu.org.uk/join to sign up online. Joining for trainee teachers is even quicker.