New NASUWT chief pledges to continue fight over working conditions

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Campaign priority: Dr Patrick Roach has demanded an end to the 'undermining' of teachers' pay and conditions

After the inspiring response of teachers to the coronavirus crisis, the government must not continue to undermine pay and conditions, the new general secretary of the NASUWT has said.

Dr Patrick Roach has formally taken up the post of general secretary, replacing Chris Keates, who has stepped down after 16 years in the role.

In taking up the role, Dr Roach paid tribute to the vital work of teachers, particularly during the current crisis, and has signalled his intention to continue the union’s campaign for better pay and conditions.

Dr Roach said: “Governments have lauded teachers’ efforts in response to Covid-19. Now ministers need to recognise that the decade spent undermining the pay and conditions of teachers must end, by valuing teachers, securing competitive pay and rewards, ending the misery of crushing and debilitating workload pressures, and ensuring that teachers and headteachers can go to work every day without the fear of being bullied, harassed or verbally or physically assaulted.”

Dr Roach has been deputy general secretary of the NASUWT for the last 10 years and has worked for the union in a number of positions since 1998. The NASUWT has around 300,000 members across the UK.

He continued: “The importance of treating others with respect and dignity has been a resounding message over the last few weeks. Those on whom we rely the most – our nurses, doctors, teachers, care-givers and other public service workers – deserve the very best. And the public and politicians cannot continue to expect teachers and other public service workers to be there for them unless they in turn demonstrate they are valued and respected.

“My aim as general secretary is to put our members first and to continue to fight for working conditions which support and protect every teacher so they can continue to inspire and make a positive difference to the lives of our children and young people.”

It comes after a teacher from Oxfordshire has become the NASUWT’s first Black national president.

On taking up her post, Michelle Codrington-Rogers, who teaches citizenship at The Cherwell School in Oxford, said that society must look at how it treats children and teachers – and must not lose sight of what education is for.

She said: “There is too much command and control in some schools, (but schools) are not businesses, we are not churning out sausages and we have to resist this model creeping in to our education system. The only way to resist this is as a collegiate teaching force.”

Purpose: New NASUWT president Michelle Codrington-Rogers has warned about too much 'command and control' in our schools

Ms Codrington-Rogers also warned that teachers are too often taking on the role of police officer, social worker, counsellor, nurse, and carer as well.

She added: “Education has to be shaped by those of us who work in it. We can’t be made to pick up and fill the gaps of every failure in society. If we are being expected to reduce children to data and numbers on a page, when children are talked about in a homogenous way, where they are expected to be sausages, that goes against everything teaching is about.”

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