A TEACHER from the region has taken the helm at the biggest union representing teachers in the UK.

Phil Kemp has become National President of NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union.

He said: “It is truly an honour and a privilege to have been elected to be President of this great Trade Union that has represented our fantastic profession for over 100 years.”

Mr Kemp, who was born in Darlington and raised in Newton Aycliffe and then later in Richmond, North Yorkshire, lives and works in North Tyneside managing a programme of alternative provision for Key Stage 4 children who have been or are in danger of being excluded from mainstream education.

He said teachers in the North-East and across the UK had been “tested to the full” in the last year during the Covid-19 pandemic but have gone “way beyond what would be expected” and adapted to give the very best possible education for the nation’s children.

The 57-year-old says he is passionate about education and its ability to help people change their life circumstances, particularly young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities.

He said: “I think the people in society who can make the biggest difference when it is done well are teachers. If you want to make a real difference to people’s lives then become a teacher.”

He started working as a teacher at the then West Denton High School, in Newcastle, then went on to work in Northumberland and later ran the exclusion unit at Churchill Community College, in North Tyneside.

After working there for nearly a decade the local authority wanted to build on that provision and since 2010, he has ran the key stage 4 alternative curriculum provision programme for North Tyneside.

Mr Kemp became an NASUWT school rep in North Tyneside at Langdale Middle School and was later a Secretary for North Tyneside and then National Executive Member before being elected NASUWT Junior Vice President two years ago.

He added: “I come from a region that is immersed in trade union history and I always wanted to be a member of a trade union.”

On teachers adapting to Covid-19 and new ways of working, he said: “Our members have quickly adapted to a digital age of delivering remote learning, on-line learning, and blended learning whilst keeping schools open to varying degrees.

“We have had a very intensive period as a profession during the pandemic. But we have also been so nimble as a profession to adapt to do the very best that is possible for our children.”

“The profession has been tested to the full with the NASUWT firmly by its side, never flinching from taking the measured and professional approach our members expect.

“Our great Union has emerged as the only real and credible option to support the teaching profession into this potentially uncertain future.”

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “Phil’s experience in teaching and a career spent working with young people will make him an excellent and effective national champion of the cause of teachers and headteachers during what will be a very challenging year for the profession.”