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Nigel de Gruchy, arguably Britain's most high-profile teachers' leader

Nigel de Gruchy, arguably Britain's most high-profile teachers' leader, is stepping down as head of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

The 57-year-old, who has been the union's general secretary since 1990, will work in tandem with his successor from next Easter and leave after the union's 2002 annual conference.

Here he forecasts what might happen next year.

"What did I dream last night for the year 2001?

January: the review body recommends double-digit percentage pay rises for teachers, which the Government implements without staging.

February: Government responds to the NASUWT's "Time for a Limit" action and agrees a new contract setting sensible limits on the demands that can be made upon teachers' time. Morale soars.

March: Government accepts our argument for teachers to progress beyond the threshold and up the upper pay spine if they meet their objectives set under performance management.

April: the NASUWT has its usual scintillating conference, in a paradise island upon which the sun shines.

May: the Government goes to the country and Labour wins. Not that NASUWT has changed its non-party political stance. But the Tories really are so awful!

June: the second Labour Government, flushed with its success, decides to treat teachers as genuine professionals. All education initiatives are halted. Government says it is going to trust the profssion to get on and deliver higher standards, which it does.

July: the Government abandons targets to reduce exclusions from schools and gives teachers real support, abandons appeal panels and establishes a wide variety of alternative education provision for those youngsters with serious behavioural difficulties.

August: I survive the Education International Triennial Congress in Kathmandu and proceed safely around the world visiting members of my extended family in Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and America.

September: TUC Congress is able to celebrate the Government moving forward on giving British employees similar rights to those enjoyed on the mainland of Europe.

October: NASUWTSecondary Heads Association fringe meetings at the party political conferences go well. Labour triumphant. Tories decide to put their house in order, choose a convincing leader and begin to provide a real opposition to the Government.

November: for the first time in 30 years I have a nice quiet month.

December: NASUWT rounds off another good year and membership reaches 200,000. My successor is doing well and lining up to take over from me the following Easter. Christmas is spent in sunny climes practising for retirement playing golf and consuming Sancerre - in moderation of course!

I feel confident some dreams will become reality. Others may not. Which ones will be which?

Nigel de Gruchy

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