Chris Keates is to step down as general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union after 15 years in the role, Schools Week has learned.
In an email to staff, seen by the newspaper, Keates confirmed she told the union’s national executive on June 7 that she will not be standing again for re-election.
It follows a period of unrest at England’s second largest teaching union, which has seen repeated strikes and other industrial action by its own staff over changes to their pensions.
In January, the union was also ordered to reinstate a sacked organiser after he accused Keates of lying, wasting police time and “acting like a despot”.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me, as I have had a lifetime of being involved with this great union, fifteen of them as its general secretary,” Keates said in her email to staff.
“However, I do feel the time is right for the NASUWT to have a general secretary to take the union forward into the next chapter in its history.”
The NASUWT’s executive will now begin the election process for Keates’s successor. A timetable for that election will be published in July.
“Pending the outcome of that process and in the interim, I will continue in my role,” she said.
“I will, of course, want to say much more to you all at a future date but until that time I look forward to us continuing to work together in the interests of our members.”
Keates has served as general secretary of NASUWT since 2004. She was previously its deputy and assistant general secretary and a teacher in Birmingham.
Dave Kitchen, the NASUWT’s 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.
“The 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 time.”