Why Be a School Representative?
The appointment of School Representatives is provided for in the INTO Rules and Constitution: Rule 92.
The School Representative should:
- Recruit new members of staff to INTO;
- Keep Northern Office updated with staff changes;
- Disseminate organisational information to members;
- Organise meetings of members when necessary;
- Handle the initial stages of individual grievances of members;
- Represent the collective interests of INTO members;
- Ensure the implementation of all negotiated agreements.
Two reps give their views on the important role they play within INTO:
Last year I was asked to take over the role of INTO rep in my school. Unlike many other school reps in various schools around the country, my name hadn’t been pulled out of a hat or it wasn’t a case of last in first nominated! I had no reservations about the job, it’s not very onerous or time consuming. I attend Branch meetings a few times a year, hand out the union magazine and inform my colleagues of Branch meetings and encourage them to attend. I sometimes have queries from staff members on various issues, but I’m never phased by this as there are several points of information that I or they can tap into, such as the INTO website, INTO on Facebook, or for the technophobes you can always call the office. A school rep never lacks support from the union, if required.
The importance of school reps in smaller rural schools cannot be underestimated. Such schools face isolation problems at the best of times and only through cooperative linkage can many issues come to light and be tackled. School reps play a crucial role not only conveying union information but as a representative of the trade union in the staff room they are a sign that help is there if looked for. Schools reps are essential in providing the grassroots link not only between the staffroom and the upper levels of the INTO, but also between their school and a similar school a few miles away. Without that vital link both the Union and their teacher members are seriously disadvantaged.