Opinion Former Article

NASUWT teachers' union history published

A major book covering much of the distinguished history of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, has been published today.

Nigel de Gruchy, former NASUWT General Secretary, has meticulously researched the Union's development, from its breakaway beginnings at the end of World War I through to its position as the leading UK teachers' union at the start of the 21st century.

With a passion for the issues and the knowledge of an insider who led the NASUWT between 1990 and 2002, Mr de Gruchy has written an invaluable historical account of the Union and associated developments in state education in the 20th century.

Important events in the history of teaching and the Union, including the establishment of the NAS and UWT unions and their merger, teachers' pay and pensions, the 40-year battle for official recognition, the history of the School Teachers’ Review Body, the General Teaching Council, the comprehensive schools revolution, national curriculum and testing, are all covered with meticulous detail.

The Union’s battles to fight for its members, where necessary by using its industrial muscle, are highlighted too, such as Sacred Heart School in Teeside (1972-1975) and the Grand Graffiti Dispute which saw members in the Poundswick School in Manchester on strike for nine months (1985-86).

Mr de Gruchy also gives his account of important victories in the NASUWT's history, including the Great Test Boycott which forced wholesale revision of the National Curriculum, and the landmark 'P' vs NASUWT legal ruling confirming the right of teachers to take industrial action in refusing to teach violent pupils. Four high-profile refusal to teach cases in 1996, culminating in the Ridings School in Halifax, are also recounted.

History of the NASUWT 1919 – 2002: The story of a battling minority provides a fascinating and detailed insight into key developments in trade union and education policy through the last century.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Nigel has produced a remarkable book which highlights the historically important contribution made by NASUWT members in combating injustice and securing the high professional status of teachers.

“His book will interest all those involved in education and the wider trade union movement and it deserves to be read widely.”

Nigel de Gruchy said: “The NASUWT has a proud history in fighting for classroom teachers.

“In researching and writing this book I have been privileged to be able to look at key events in the history of the Union. I hope to have been able to shed light on some of the controversies and triumphs affecting teachers and activists.”


Notes to editors

History of the NASUWT 1919 – 2002: The story of a battling minority is published on 13 February 2013, price £35 limited edition hardback and £25 softback by abramis.

Ben Padley,

Press and Media Officer,

Campaigns and Communications,


Hillscourt Education Centre



B45 8RS

0121 457 6269

07785 463 119

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