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Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 13:00 GMT
Teaching unions adopt united front
David Triesman and Peter Smith
The union leaders want a new spirit of co-operation
Teachers working in primary and secondary schools will be able to forge closer links with university teaching staff, as two unions form a partnership.

The alliance between the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the Association of University Teachers (AUT) will involve more than 190,000 teachers, teaching support staff and academics across the UK.

Greater unity in education will benefit teachers, students and parents alike

David Triesman, AUT
The partnership will involve the unions producing joint responses to education policy and government consultations.

They will also share responsibility for developing services and support for members in both unions.

Union leaders said it was time that teaching unions - not usually known for their readiness to collaborate - learned to work together.

'Greater unity'

General secretary of the AUT, David Triesman, said there was a critical need for teachers across education to learn to work together.

"Greater unity in education will benefit teachers, students and parents alike.

We want to work closely with the AUT over what advice we give to the government in power on the knowledge economy

Peter Smith, ATL
"The life long learning alliance will provide staff in schools and universities with a stronger voice in education and in representing our interests to government.

The new partnership would ensure there was joined-up thinking and co-ordinated action on behalf of education professionals, he said.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the ATL, said: "For too long teachers' unions - from primary schools to adult education - have been seen to be bickering in public.

"We want to work closely with the AUT over what advice we give to the government in power on the knowledge economy.

"The alliance represents the most serious attempt yet by unions within the notoriously factious education world to collaborate rather then compete," he said.

The ATL represents 150,000 teachers and lecturers in nursery, primary, secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges.

The AUT represents academic and academic-related staff in higher education, has over 42,000 members.

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