Kevin Courtney has been elected as the 12th general secretary of the National Union of Teachers with almost 70 per cent of the vote.
The former deputy general secretary of the union, who has been its acting leader since Christine Blower stood down in May and presided over the recent strike of teachers across England, comfortably beat his only challenger Beth Davies in the election with 22,290 votes to her 9,612. Just 10.7 per cent of those eligible voted.
An active member of the union since he first taught physics at Camden School for Girls in 1983, Courtney was previously a branch secretary and vice president of the southern and eastern regional Trades Union Congress.
Courtney, who has already been congratulated by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on twitter, called his win an “extraordinary honour” and described the role as “one of the most important jobs in education”, adding: “I am proud to be taking on that role”.
“I will work tirelessly to achieve an education system that recognizes all our children’s strengths and respects and recognises the incredible job that teachers do. I am fortunate to be inheriting from Christine Blower the leadership of a strong and growing union,” he added.
Congrats to @cyclingkev – newly elected National Union of Teachers General Secretary. He will stand up for pupils, their parents & teachers
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 15, 2016
“I am in no doubt, however, of the challenges ahead – not least the need to convince the prime minister and the new education secretary, Justine Greening, of the case both for proper investment in our education service, as opposed to the damaging cuts currently in place, and for urgent reform of the key stage 1 and key stage 2 testing arrangements.”
Following Blower’s decision to retire early from the position, Courtney will serve until the end of her original term in 2019, when there will be another election.
A key challenge for Courtney will be the ongoing negotiations between his union and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers to form a new union with a combined membership. Both bodies voted in favour of continued talks at their conferences earlier this year.