In its centenary year the NASUWT remains and will continue to be the voice of teachers, giving them a strong voice during turbulent times, Acting General Secretary Chris Keates has said.
Speaking to hundreds of young teachers in Birmingham Ms Keates said the NASUWT had “secured many great victories for teachers” and its values and ethos were embraced by hundreds of thousands of teachers and headteachers in eight countries.
But particularly important were the everyday victories won by teachers in schools, taking a stand to improve working conditions and fighting for dignity at work, members were told.
Ms Keates told the Young Teachers Consultation Conference: “Over the course of our history we have secured many great victories for teachers.
“These include the right to a lunch break, to equal pay, to refuse to teach violent and disruptive pupils and the right to take industrial action over workload.
“The right to PPA time and leadership and management time and the right not to undertake clerical and admin tasks, not to cover for absence, the list goes on.”
Ms Keates also highlighted court victories by the Union over deductions of sixth form college teachers’ pay taking strike action, pioneering the right to engage in a trade dispute over adverse management practices and the victory in Northern Ireland on upskirting.
The NASUWT was the first teachers’ union to take a case to court and help secure a criminal conviction.
She added: “But especially important are those everyday victories won by you – our members and activists in workplaces in every nation and administration, when you win over new members, when you make a stand to improve your working conditions and fight for dignity at work and in doing so provide inspiration and leadership for other teachers, empowering them to stand collectively and in solidarity for their rights and entitlements.”
Ms Keates highlighted pay, workload and pupil indiscipline as the key issues for teachers and delivered searing analysis of the state of the teaching profession, which in some key areas was worsening.
On pay she said: "The teachers pay gap is 20% behind that of other comparable graduate professions. Teachers in England are denied higher salaries while schools are hoarding £4.6 billion in reserves - the equivalent of £8,000 per teacher. So don't let anyone tell you they cannot afford to pay this years' pay award - 2.75% - a drop in the ocean in terms of money in the system."
On pupil indiscipline Ms Keates said teachers across the UK were united on the issue and the NASUWT was highlighting behaviour management and so-called restorative justice policies which undermined teachers: "Not only are teachers being betrayed by these policies but so are the pupils when no boundaries are set, no expectations are made clear and no standards applied."
Ms Keates said the NASUWT was waging an "unwavering war against the most crushing concern of all teachers - excessive workload." She added: "Well over half of young teachers say that they are buckling under the weight of more and more administrative tasks as schools abuse their conditions of service provisions and sack support staff, with the expectation teachers will pick up the slack."
She added: "Teaching is one of the most important, best and rewarding professions which is why we must do all we can to encourage people to become teachers and do all we can to protect and champion them."
Ms Keates gave the keynote address at the conference in Birmingham which saw hundreds of young teachers get the chance to network, attend CPD sessions and get legal and financial advice from union and industry experts.
Members also took part in a real-time electronic poll in which they highlighted key issues facing them in their classrooms.