Our history

Founded in 1970 by teachers looking for an alternative, non-strike union, Voice (originally PAT) has expanded in size and reputation to provide a quality, personalised service to those working across the education sector, not just in schools.

History of Voice

Voice was originally known as the Professional Association of Teachers. PAT was founded in 1970, when two Essex teachers, Colin Leicester and Ray Bryant, who were appalled by the effect of teachers’ strike action on pupils, gathered together a group of like-minded professional teachers who were prepared to commit themselves to the principle of not striking.

As the union grew, Derby was chosen as the location of PAT’s first headquarters, which opened in 1972, before moving to larger premises in 1977, 1980 and the current offices in 1989.

PAT (Scotland)’s first Edinburgh office opened in 1983, PAT (Wales) was established in 1979, and the Northern Ireland Federation was formed in 1982.

During the early 1980s, a group of nursery nurses who also wished to commit themselves to the principle of not striking approached PAT for advice. As a result, the Professional Association of Nursery Nurses (PANN) was established in 1982. From 1 September 1995, following a ballot of PANN members, PANN became a section of PAT.

The Professionals Allied to Teaching (PAtT) section for education support staff was launched in 2000.

NAASSC (National Association of Administrative Staff in Schools and Colleges) was affiliated to PAT/PAtT in 2001.

New voice

On 28 February 2008, PAT became Voice: the union for education professionals.

The new name was chosen to reflect the union’s growing and diverse membership – representing the whole team of professionals working in education, early years and childcare settings, from nursery to tertiary – and because dialogue is at the heart of Voice’s values as a union that resolves issues by negotiation and does not take industrial action.


In October 2020, Voice transferred to Community Union to become its education and early years section.