Chris Keates is to stand down as general secretary of the NASUWT union after 15 years at the helm.
was elected as the teaching union's first female general secretary in 2004, and was re-elected unopposed by the membership in 2009 and 2014.
Kitchen, the NASUWT national president, said: “After 15 years as NASUWT general secretary, and far longer as an NASUWT member of staff and union activist, Chris Keates has advised the national
executive of her retirement plans and that she will not be standing again for re-election.
process of electing her successor has started and pending the outcome of that process, and in the interim, Chris remains in post, so for the present it is business as usual.
“At the appropriate time, tribute will be paid to Chris for the work she has done and her years of service to the NASUWT and its members. Consequently, no further statements will be made at this
joined the staff of the NASUWT in 1998 in a senior role with responsibility for policy co-ordination and development, and was appointed as NASUWT deputy general secretary in 2001.
history and humanities in Birmingham secondary schools from 1971 to 1994.
The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union secured compensation of £14,933,905.34 for members during 2018.
The compensation was awarded for successful claims including unfair dismissal, unlawful
discrimination, personal injuries and criminal assault.
The NASUWT experienced a significant increase last year
in cases relating to unlawful discrimination by employers towards members. These included cases where members had been subjected to discriminatory practices related to pregnancy-related and
flexible-working requests, the failure to make reasonable adjustments for members with a disability, race discrimination and discrimination based on age, sexual orientation and religion or
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“Whilst the NASUWT has been successful in securing record
compensation for members, the fact is that behind these figures is a catalogue of appalling treatment teachers have suffered at the hands of their employer.
“In most cases the money awarded does not compensate for
the fact that a teacher’s physical or mental health may have been affected and they can no longer work in their chosen profession.
“Too many employers adopt an ‘anything goes’ style of
management and believe they can act with impunity as the Government fails to take any action to secure compliance with employment law, allowing poor employment practices to flourish as a result of
the excessive freedoms and flexibilities it has given to schools.
“These figures mask the anxiety, stress and distress many
teachers will have suffered at the hands of their employers before seeking our help.
“But they also represent what we believe is only the tip
of the iceberg. There is no doubt that many more will have been driven out of the profession without proper redress for poor, discriminatory or unfair treatment because they were too fearful or
stressed to come forward or believed nothing could be done.
“By publicising these figures the NASUWT hopes that they
will encourage any teacher facing discrimination or unfair treatment to seek our help.”
On Wednesday 13th March, I attended, along with colleagues from the Barnsley
Association, an event at the TES Northern Office in Sheffield on Teacher Mental Health and Wellbeing, hosted by LKMco (a research group) and the TES. The panel was chaired by Ed Dorrell (Head
of Content at the TES) and he was joined by Angie Browne (Principal and co-founder of ‘NourishEd Collective’, and also seen on BBC2’s “School” programme), Professor Sam Twiselton (Director of
Sheffield Hallam Institute of Education, Advisory group for teacher recruitment and retention), Ivana Vidakovic (Senior research lead at OFSTED) and Adrian Bethune (primary teacher and author of
“Mindfulness in the primary classroom”.
It was the description of the event that led me to want to attend:
“Why are we talking about this now?
Last year, 3,750 teachers out of every 100,000 reported experiencing work-related illness, which is statistically significantly higher than the average of 3,180 of
other professionals in other sectors, and 40% of those who train to teach don't last beyond five years in the classroom. Is it that as a profession we are predisposed to poor mental health or is
there something in the culture of schools and education as whole that create the conditions for teacher burnout? In our research into teacher retention at LKMco, we frequently hear of poor teacher
mental health and wellbeing: this event is a chance to talk about the experiences of teachers, examine the root causes and talk about what can be done.”
The introduction to the event led by one of the researchers at LKMco, an ex-teacher, covered some interesting statistics from research done in 2018 by the Education
- 67% of Education Professionals reported feeling stressed in their job, which rises to 80% of school leaders.
- 29% of teachers said that they worked more than 51 hours a week.
- 40% of NQTs have had some kind of mental health condition diagnosed by a doctor.
- 49% of teachers said that their personal relationships had suffered as a result of their job.
The questions was do we have sick teachers as a result of too many “yes” people (do teachers just need to say no more” or sick schools who demand far too much of their
staff, not recognizing that teachers are being overworked as a result.
Ed Dorrell raised a question for the panel, recognizing how different the experiences are of teachers in different schools, so is the crisis here in the leadership
within these different schools? There were a range of replies. Adrian Bethune thought that teaching was “inherently stressful”. He was challenged in this comment by someone saying
that it really shouldn’t be that way, and that good stress is needed in all our lives, but the bad stress experienced by so many teachers should not be something that we just accept any more.
Ivana Vidakovic had found in her research work with OFSTED that unnecessary and unwieldy marking and assessment was the major cause of stress in teachers. Angie Browne picked up on the “crisis in
leadership” comment by stating that heads/principals in school need to be given a longer time to make their mark on a school, and not be treated like football managers! High turn over of headteachers
creates instability and higher workload. Sam thought that teachers were being promoted too soon and promotion was being used as a retention tool with staff that weren’t really ready. She
proposed an extended training period for teachers.
Another main thread in conversation was that teachers need autonomy, professional agency to be creative in their own teaching. In many MATs this is not the case,
and the panel thought that this could be the next major thing after workload that needed to be targeted.
This was a well attended, informative event (with an excellent buffet!!), and I will certainly be looking out for more events hosted by the Times Ed in the