Former NUT teaching union leader Fred Jarvis dies at 95

The celebrated education campaigner and 'longtime friend of Tes' will be greatly missed, says editor Ann Mroz

Amy Gibbons

Tributes: Fred Jarvis was general secretary of the NUT teaching union from 1975 to 1989

A distinguished former teaching union leader hailed for his "tireless and unending work for education" has died at the age of 95.

Fred Jarvis, who led the National Union of Teachers (NUT) for nearly 15 years, was a lifetime campaigner for education and the trade union movement.

Highly regarded for his contribution to the sector, he received the Service to Education prize at the Tes School Awards in 2013.


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Ann Mroz, editor of Tes, said the team will "miss him greatly".

"Fred was a longtime friend of Tes but he was never backwards in telling editors when they were wrong, which was quite often in his opinion," she said.

"The message was always conveyed with good grace and humour, but you were never left in any doubt what he thought.

"He came to all of our events, even when he could no longer walk. We will miss him greatly."

'Commitment and dedication to education'

Mr Jarvis started his trade unionist career as president of the National Union of Students (NUS) in the 1950s, before being general secretary of the NUT between 1975 and 1989.

He was also president of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) from 1988 to 1989.

Mr Jarvis was supportive of the NUT's merger with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) to form the NEU teaching union in 2017.

When he made his final speech as NUT general secretary in 1989, his "main plea" was for the professional unity that he hoped was just around the corner.

More than a quarter of a century later, Mr Jarvis argued that the government’s plans to turn all schools into academies made the need for teachers to speak with one voice more important than ever.

Writing for Tes in 2017, he said: "It will be for the new teaching union, built as it is on the combined wisdom and experience of two unions, to do its utmost to ensure that its conference commands the attention – and embodies the expertise and dynamism – of what will be the new national forum for teachers and education. It’s a big challenge, true, but one that I fully expect the new organisation to rise to."

Mr Jarvis continued to campaign for education throughout his retirement, setting up the New Visions for Education Group. 

He was recognised for his outstanding work in 2015, when he was made CBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours.

Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted, joint general secretaries of the NEU, said: "Fred Jarvis lived a long and distinguished life  committed to his passions for trades unionism, education, photography and West Ham United.

"Fred's commitment to the NUT and the NEU after its amalgamation with the ATL in 2017 was unstinting. He continued to attend all annual conferences and play a part in the union's work to the very end.

"Fred was a great supporter of professional unity and was delighted to see the formation of the NEU.

"Fred meant so much to so many people in the trade union movement. His commitment and dedication to education and the trade union movement will continue to be remembered at the NEU annual conference through the Fred and Anne Jarvis award, established in 2007 and presented annually to those who have campaigned tirelessly for children and young people.

"Fred will be missed by many but also remembered by many for the remarkable contribution he made throughout his life to education and the trade union movement."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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