Who can join the NEU?

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

You might be wondering who you can ask to join or who you should be prioritising. The simple answer is that the NEU is a union for all education professionals so everyone in your workplace is welcome to join. 

We represent members in maintained schools, academies and free schools, independent schools, sixth form and further education colleges, education support services, alternative education provision settings, and early years settings. 

If someone works in a school or college, whether they’re a teacher, a lecturer, a middle leader, a head teacher, a teaching assistant or a school librarian*, NEU membership is open to them. Supply and agency teachers can also benefit from NEU membership.

New starters

When you’re thinking about how to prioritise, it makes sense to focus on new starters in the workplace. Keep an eye out for new faces and make sure you introduce yourself and invite them to join.

Trainees and ECTs

Among the new starters in your school, you may well have student teachers on placement, trainee teachers on a school-based training route like School Direct or Teach First, or Early Career Teachers (previously NQTs in England and still referred to as NQTs in Wales). These are high priority groups for the union to recruit. 

In the past, the union would recruit new teachers at the university where they were undertaking their teacher training or at a Local Authority event for newly qualified teachers. Increasingly, trainee teachers are going straight into the workplace on school-based training courses so it’s more important than ever that reps recruit new teachers in the workplace. Never assume that a new teacher has already been recruited at university. Make it a priority to ask if they’ve joined and explain the benefits of joining to them.

It's important to know that student/trainee teachers can join for free. Early career teachers (England) and NQTs (Wales) pay just £1 for membership for the first year after qualifying.

* An important note on support staff Support staff are welcome to join the NEU but it is important to understand that the NEU is bound by an agreement with sister unions and the TUC which means we do not actively recruit support staff in maintained schools. In maintained schools, only the local government unions (GMB, Unite and Unison) are recognised to collectively bargain on behalf of support staff. There are no restrictions on actively recruiting support staff in independent schools. Support staff are welcomed into membership if they choose to join and you can talk about their eligibility to join NEU membership if they approach you but you mustn’t actively seek to recruit any support staff.



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.

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

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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.

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