This is the first Deputy General Secretary (DGS) election in the history of the National Education Union (NEU). The FAQs below are to help you understand the election, the process and how to get involved.

Why are we having an election?

When the NEU was created, through the amalgamation of ATL and NUT, we elected two joint General Secretaries and had three appointed Deputy General Secretaries. We agreed that the final leadership structure of the union would be one General Secretary, one appointed Deputy General Secretary and one elected Deputy General Secretary. We are transitioning to this structure over the next two and a half years, starting with the election of the elected Deputy General Secretary.

Who are the current office holders?

The union does not currently have an elected Deputy General Secretary. Instead we have two Joint General Secretaries, Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney. We also have two appointed Deputy General Secretaries, Amanda Brown and Rachel Curley. Whoever is elected to the post of Deputy General Secretary will be the first person to hold this post in the NEU. They will work alongside Mary, Kevin, Amanda and Rachel in leading the union.

What is the role of the Deputy General Secretary?

According to the rules of the union, “The General Secretary and the elected Deputy General Secretary shall be salaried officials of the Union elected by a postal ballot of those members eligible under these rules.” The Joint General Secretaries have responsibility for administration of the affairs of the union, including implementation of the decisions of the Executive and managing the union’s staff. The role of the Deputy General Secretary will be to share this responsibility (under their direction) and to deputise for them as appropriate.

In practice, this means having a Deputy General Secretary who is able to listen to members and bring people together across the union, who is able to take a lead on campaigns and on advising the Executive on the strategic direction of the union. Essentially, someone who is capable of working with the Joint General Secretaries, the National Executive, the staff of the union and most importantly the membership of the union, to develop a vision of education and a strategy to achieve that vision. 

What is the timetable for the election?

The election opened on 22nd January 2021 and nominations (see below) can be made from this point until the 13th September 2021.

Voting will run from 4th October 2021 to 29th October 2021 and every member of the union (excluding student and associate members) should receive a postal ballot paper during this period. If you do not receive your paper, there is a hotline number which will be posted here when it opens.

22nd January 2021 – Election opens
4th May 2021 – HQ begins processing nominations
13th September 2021 – Nominations close
4th October 2021 – Voting opens
29th October 2021 – Voting closes


How does the election work?

Candidates in this election must secure 15 nominations from local districts of the union in order to appear on the ballot paper. That means that our local districts have a key role in the election process. A local district can make a nomination for a candidate for Deputy General Secretary in one of two ways. Either, they can nominate a candidate by a vote at a quorate General Meeting of the District or by a ballot of their full membership (excluding student and associate members). 

Candidates may enter the election at any point up to the close of nominations on 13th September 2021, as long as they can secure at least 15 nominations from local districts.

From 4th October 2021, postal ballot papers will be distributed to all members of the union (excluding student and associate members) to cast their vote. These ballot papers need to be returned by post (this is a legal requirement) to arrive before 29th October 2021.

The result will be declared in the days following the close of voting on 29th October 2021 and the candidate elected will take office from 1st January 2022. 

How do I get involved?

You can get involved by going along to your local district meeting, speaking up for and voting for a candidate you support, and by helping raise the profile of your candidate throughout the process, via social media, speaking to colleagues and even organising a meeting in your workplace.

If you want to nominate a candidate for Deputy General Secretary, you simply need to attend a meeting of your local district at which this is on the agenda and put forward the name of the candidate you wish to nominate. If you don’t have a nomination meeting coming up, you can ask your district secretary to arrange one.

If you want to help build the Together for Change campaign and get Gawain Little elected as Deputy General Secretary of our union, we have lots of resources, training and activities for you to get involved in.

Sign up to find out more.