Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney (born 16 August 1959)[1] is a Welsh former school teacher, and the joint (along with Mary Bousted) General Secretary of the National Education Union, the largest teachers' trade union for England and Wales.

Kevin Courtney
Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union
Assumed office
1 September 2017 (2017-09-01)
Co-leader with Mary Bousted
Preceded byPosition established
General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers
In office
May 2010 (2010-05) – 1 September 2017 (2017-09-01)
Preceded byChristine Blower
Succeeded byUnion merged with the ATL
Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers
In office
2010 (2010) – 2016 (2016)
Preceded byChristine Blower
Succeeded byPosition vacant
Personal details
Born (1959-08-16) 16 August 1959 (age 61)
Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales
Polly Donnison
(m. 1989)
EducationTrefforest Primary School
Coedylan Comprehensive
Alma materImperial College London
Chelsea College of Science and Technology
OccupationUnion leader, former teacher

Early lifeEdit

He was born in Pontypridd, now in Rhondda Cynon Taf, earlier part of Mid Glamorgan, and Glamorgan before 1974. His mother was a cleaner at Glamorgan Polytechnic in Pontypridd, which became the Polytechnic of Wales in 1975, and the University of Glamorgan in 1992. He went to Trefforest Primary School and Coedylan Comprehensive, now called Pontypridd High School.

From 1977-80 he studied Physics at Imperial College London. In 1982 he completed a PGCE at the Chelsea College of Science and Technology.


After graduating, Courtney worked as a physics teacher.

When teaching physics at Camden School for Girls, a comprehensive school, he joined Camden National Union of Teachers. In 1998 he founded the NUT's School Teachers Opposed to Performance Pay (STOPP) campaign, to argue against performance-related pay. From 1990–2010 he was the secretary of Camden NUT. He became an NUT executive in 2006.

He became deputy General Secretary of the NUT in 2010. He became acting-leader of the NUT in May 2016 when Christine Blower stepped down as general secretary. He has been on the board of the Teaching Awards.

On 15 July 2016 he became the General Secretary of the NUT, in a vote where he received 70% support.[2]

In 2017 the NUT merged with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) to form the National Education Union (NEU). Since then, Courtney has served as joint General Secretary of the NEU alongside Mary Bousted, who was General Secretary of the ATL.

Policies as a union leaderEdit

Courtney has said he wants to have SATs tests abolished.

He has worked with the Anti Academies Alliance, a pressure group opposing the transfer of the operation of schools in England from the public sector to private-sector organisations.

Courtney is critical of funding cuts to education which he feels lead to larger classes and less well qualified people teaching children. Courtney said, "Whoever caused this economic crisis, it wasn't our five-year-olds in schools now,"[3] Courtney also fears many teachers could leave the profession. Courtney said, “If the government does not act decisively and soon, the recruitment and retention crisis will seriously damage our children and young people’s education.”[4] Courtney also stated, “Our own research shows that 81% of teachers have considered leaving the profession in the last year because of workload, driven in a large part by time-consuming data gathering that has little or nothing to do with children’s education. Real-terms pay cuts have put teaching far behind other graduate professions and, in London and other hotspots around the country, very high rents have also contributed to the problem. It is no surprise that, faced with this, teachers leave the profession.”[5]

Personal lifeEdit

He lives in Stoke Newington, in the London Borough of Hackney. He married Polly Donnison in July 1989 in north-east London. They have a son (born November 1989) and a daughter (born November 1993).


External linksEdit

Trade union offices
Preceded by
Christine Blower
Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers
Succeeded by
Post vacant
Preceded by
Christine Blower
General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers
Succeeded by
Union merged with the ATL
Preceded by
New position
General Secretary of the National Education Union
With: Mary Bousted
Succeeded by