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‘I never knew I would fall in love with school leaders – they inspire me’

In an exclusive first interview since he was named as the next general secretary of NAHT, Paul Whiteman says his key aim is to push education up the political agenda. Will Hazell meets a self-declared eternal optimist with trade unionism heritage and a passion for representing workers

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One of the first things Paul Whiteman does upon arriving at the Tes offices is to marvel at the tiny typeface in a 1910 Tes edition mounted on the wall.

The general secretary-designate of the NAHT headteachers’ union has trade unionism in his blood – his father led his local branch of the National Graphical Association print union and went on to be a full-time union official.

Now his son stands on the cusp of leading one of England’s key education unions – and he’s clearly excited by the prospect. “It’s a fantastic job,” he says enthusiastically. “This is a union of 29,000 working school ...

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