Who can join the NEU?

The NEU is a union for all education professionals. 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.

Whatever your role, whether you’re a teacher, a lecturer, a middle leader, a head teacher, a teaching assistant or a school librarian*, NEU membership is open to you. Supply and agency teachers can also benefit from NEU membership.

If you’re a student or trainee teacher, you can join for free. Early career teachers (England) and NQTs (Wales) pay just £1 for membership for the first year after qualifying.


Teachers in maintained schools

The National Education Union represents the majority of teachers in maintained schools. With more members in more workplaces than any other union in the education sector, the National Education Union uses your experiences to influence government and employers on the issues that you tell us matter most. We will maintain pressure on government to reduce your workload and share best practice and continue to lobby against funding cuts.

When it comes to your pay, conditions and pensions, we continue to oppose pay related to pupil performance, and we are campaigning for an end to the public sector pay cap. We will ensure you are treated fairly in appraisal and capability sessions. 

The National Education Union also represents supply teachers employed by schools, local authorities and agencies. We campaign to ensure agency supply teachers receive a fair wage and access to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Academies and free schools

Many members now work in academies and, with the number of academies and free schools continuing to grow, it is vital that you are a part of the National Education Union: together we can help protect your pay and conditions.

Unparalleled experience of dealing with similar issues in the independent sector lies in our heritage, putting us in the perfect position to provide the specialist back-up you need, including if you are working in a free school.

If your school is part of a multiacademy trust (MAT), our negotiators will represent your interests. If you work for a stand-alone academy, support is available through your workplace reps and union staff.

Independent schools

As the largest union in the independent sector, the National Education Union is focused on achieving better working conditions for you as well as supporting your career development. We have strong independent sector expertise and, with the collective strength of ATL and the NUT in the National Education Union, we are well equipped to manage the unique challenges you face.

We represent more teachers and support staff working in independent schools than any other union. We have approximately 30,000 members in the sector across the UK – from teachers to technicians, headteachers to teaching assistants, librarians to ancillary staff. We are also recognised by more independent sector employers than any other union, with nearly half of the agreements covering support staff.

We work well with the independent sector employer associations, such as the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association and the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools

Lecturers, sixth form teachers and vocational educators

The National Education Union will be the professional and persuasive voice for post-16 education. We have a history of pressing for recognition of the professional identity and practice of members, as well as protecting their employment rights; and as the National Education Union, we will continue our collaborative way of working and seek to further our aim of enhancing FE practitioner status.

We negotiate pay and conditions for members as a union nationally recognised on the National Joint Forum for FE and the National Joint Council for Sixth Forms, and are uniquely placed in the sector as the only union nationally recognised by both the Association of Colleges and Sixth Form Colleges’ Association.

If you are a professional in a work-based learning environment or training provider, we provide exclusive advice through our Union-learn project work alongside the Education and Training Foundation and Association of Employment and Learning Providers. 

We look to our members in post-16 to steer our policy and campaigns in this sector, as well as providing an elected member advisory group, on which we reserve a place specifically for members working in universities.

Specialist support

In addition to all the usual services you would expect such as first-class advice and support both nationally and at local level from your NEU districts and branches, NEU commits considerable resources to supporting our members in the further education sector.

NEU offers you:

  • a pay, conditions and pensions team working on behalf of all staff in schools, FE colleges and sixth form colleges
  • a national official for post-16 education
  • a member advisory group
  • a termly newsletter
  • tailored training courses
  • a yearly conference.

    Support staff

    Support staff are a vital part of the education team, and the National Education Union promotes an ethos of the whole-school community.

    We recognise the exceptional contribution made by support staff, from teaching assistants to technicians, administrators to librarians, examination officers and ancillary staff, and believe there should be a national pay scale and terms and conditions for you. This is why we will work tirelessly for our support staff members in every workplace. When working with the government and employers we will influence education policies that directly affect our support staff members. Using your voice, experiences and expertise, we will continue to make a positive impact to your pay, conditions, working hours and career development.

    In the independent sector, the National Education Union is the leading education union in terms of both membership and negotiating rights, including those of support staff. In maintained schools, the local government unions are recognised to collectively bargain on behalf of support staff.

    Specialist support

    The NEU commits considerable resources to representing our support staff members. NEU is the only trade union that can offer you all of the following:

    • staff solely dedicated to support staff members and issues
    •  advice and guidance on all the major workplace issues affecting support staff
    • a Support Staff National Council, which acts as the voice of support staff members at the national level
    • a termly newsletter for our support staff members
    • regular electronic updates on breaking matters
    • an annual support staff conference, open to all members
    • an extensive CPD programme, with events held centrally and locally
    • Specialist support staff representation at District level (to find out more about becoming the support staff Officer on your local District Committee please email Peter Morris).

    Habilitation VI (UK)

    NEU membership is also open to members of Habilitation VI (UK). We work closely with Habilitation VI (UK), thus ensuring that the benefits of your Habilitation VI (UK) membership can complement the protection provided by a first-class trade union.

    Support staff apprentices

    There are a growing number of support staff apprentices in the education sector.

    The NEU believes that apprentice schemes can make a positive contribution, but is concerned to ensure that apprentices are not exploited.

    In particular, we believe that support staff apprentices should be paid the going rate for the job i.e. Green Book/NJC pay rates and should not be used to replace permanent staff, or to cover vacancies or absences. They should not be used as cheap labour, with no prospect of a permanent position at the end of their placement.

    The NEU offers free membership to support staff apprentices working in a school or college on a one year placement.

    This means that should you have any problems at work during your time as an apprentice, the Union will represent your interests, by giving you access to our network of Reps, Branches and paid officials. Then at the end of the apprenticeship, if you secure a permanent or temporary job in education, you will be able to become a full member of the NEU.

    If you are an apprentice working in education, you can take advantage of our offer of FREE membership for the period of your placement, please click here.