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Russell Hobby

Russell Hobby

Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT writes about education policy, with a focus on how the profession can take back ownership of its own destiny     


A conference of plans, pledges and ideas

Annual conference begins in two days, shortly followed by a general election. In terms of the NAHT calendar the former is probably more important!

Reviewing the speeches and motions, a number of themes emerge. Funding, recruitment and school places are top of the list. We need more teachers to cater for more pupils right at a time when budgets are genuinely depressing and recruitment is in crisis. 

Big questions are emerging on the state of assessment - can the government meet its commitments on both new tests and workload? The nature of school groups and federation will be hotly debated. 

We have big decisions to make about the NAHT structure to help us work in a world of regional chains, rapid change and challenges to facilities time. As usual, we are ahead of the game here and changing from a position of strength. 

We will celebrate the success of our most resent initiatives. Edge, our section for middle leaders which is the fastest growing category of membership in our history. And Aspire, our school improvement project, which is helping dozens of schools lift free of the threat of intervention. 

Above all though, I am struck by the tone. This is not a conference of complaints, objections, demands and threats. It is a conference of plans, pledges and ideas. It is a group of people determined to assert leadership of the education system and to build the future they want to see. 

It almost feels like a party of government. The outcome of the general election is uncertain. No one may gain overall power, but in many ways the profession will be able to take a lead and keep progress happening in spite of that. Or even because of that. Left to our devices we can make good, ambitious and sustainable decisions. 

At our conference we will assert two abiding principles. That, as a union of leaders we must take ownership of standards and take responsibility for each other. That is a source of immense pride to me. 


30 April 2015