Parents will be key to winning education battles, says NUT acting leader

Teachers need to get more parents onside to help them win debates with government over funding, testing and pay and conditions, says Kevin Courtney

The NUT teaching union must woo parents in order to win debates with the government and change education for the better, the man tipped to lead the organisation has said.

In an exclusive interview with TES, Kevin Courtney, the NUT’s acting general secretary, argued that getting more parents onside in the union’s battles over funding, assessment and teacher workload could help make politicians listen.

He added that it was vital for the NUT to encourage younger members to become activists, instead of them seeing the union simply as an “insurance club” that helped teachers out when “in trouble”.

Mr Courtney, who is running for leadership of the union after Christine Blower retired from the role, told TES: “For a long time teachers have felt that parents might have bought into the government’s overall narrative that it is teachers who are to blame.

“Just recently, we have seen concretely that there are parents who have seen through that and want to stand with us.”

‘They see the negative effect on their children’

Just 10 days ago, the NUT staged a national strike over funding cuts, gaining support from parent campaign groups such as Let Our Kids Be Kids – the organisation that took primary children out of school in May to oppose the new tougher assessment regime – and Rescue Our Schools.

Parents’ backing was growing, Mr Courtney said: “I think [the strike] has had the highest parental support. They can see the consequences of the cuts and changes to assessment as having a negative effect on their children.”

Mr Courtney, who is expected to win the contest against former NUT president Beth Davies today, added that future campaigns could also be more effective if the NUT formed a new union with the more moderate ATL.

This is an edited version of an article in the 15 July edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full article here. This week’s TES magazine is available at all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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