Starting out in teaching flyer 2024 cover

Starting out in teaching

This guide is aimed at anyone in England working towards QTS (Qualified Teacher Status), whether you’re on a school-based route or at university.


1. What is the NEU?

The National Education Union (NEU) is the largest education union in the UK. We represent everyone working in education, including trainees, ECTs, teachers, lecturers, support staff and school leaders, in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK.

Our size gives us strength which helps us to win improvements in our members’ working conditions.

2. Why should I join the NEU?

The NEU will represent you in the workplace

Our network of workplace reps is at the heart of what we do as a union. Your rep is there
to represent you and your colleagues in the workplace and to offer you advice and support on the issues that matter most. The NEU has reps in schools and colleges across the country, standing up for members like you.

One of the main roles of a trade union is collective bargaining. That means the union negotiates with employers on behalf of members to improve terms and conditions on issues such as pay, the right to flexible working and health and safety.

The NEU will give you advice and guidance throughout your career

Whether you need guidance about your employment rights or about your induction, NEU members have access to a wealth of expertise. As well as the support of your workplace rep and your branch, you’ll have access to online advice, and the NEU employment AdviceLine.

We know how much there is to take in when you’re starting out in teaching. You probably have a lot of questions.

That’s why we’ve produced a set of materials designed to support you at the start of your career including our guides on induction, behaviour management and finding your first job.

The NEU offers you tailored discounts and more

NEU Rewards provides you with a wide range of money-saving benefits and services, including discounts on shopping, gym membership and cinema tickets, financial advice, and mortgages designed especially for new teachers.

NEU members also benefit from free insurance protection and cover for personal accidents
at work, and loss of or damage to personal property at work, including teaching equipment and personal effects.

The NEU supports your development with high quality CPD

The NEU is committed to supporting you at every stage of your career.

We offer high quality training courses on issues ranging from behaviour management to online safety. The union runs new teacher CPD weeks throughout the year with a packed agenda of webinars and courses tailored to meet the needs of ECTs and trainee teachers.

The NEU is a campaigning union, shaping the future of education

The NEU is proud to be a campaigning union with a clear vision of what our education system should look like. Together, we want to shape the future of education for the benefit of teachers, support staff, and pupils.

As a campaigning union, the NEU is proud to take a stand on key issues of workload, child poverty, assessment and pay.

The NEU is the union for you, run by members like you

The NEU is run by its members for its members. By getting involved in your union, you can shape union policy, play a key role in campaigning, and work with colleagues to resolve issues in your workplace. Becoming a rep is one way of getting involved, but it’s not the only way. There are lots of formal and informal opportunities to get involved, meet other new teachers, and make your voice heard.

3. Am I eligible to join?

The NEU is a union for all education professionals, including trainee teachers and ECTs. We represent members in local authority schools, academies and free schools, independent schools, sixth form and FE colleges, education support services, alternative education provision settings, and early years settings.

Read our FAQ to find out more about membership eligibility.

4. How much will membership cost me?

If you’re a student or trainee teacher, you can join the NEU for free.

Early Career Teachers (and NQTs in Wales) pay just £1 for membership for the first year after qualifying.

In your second year after qualifying, you will only pay one third of the usual subscription rate.

Find out how much NEU membership will cost.

5. How do I join?

Even if you’re an ECT and you previously joined the NEU for free as a student, you still need to take a minute to upgrade your membership as your free student membership will come to an end once you complete your course. Upgrading will still only cost you £1.

Upgrade here

Alternatively, you can join by calling our membership team on 0345 811 8111.

If you have an NEU rep in your workplace, they will be able to help you with any questions you have about joining the union.

More about membership

Starting out in England and Northern Ireland

Top guides for ECTs and further information about the union, including membership FAQs and CPD.

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