About Fred

Fred Jarvis - campaigner for education

In a working life devoted to education, Fred Jarvis first led the country’s students and went on to lead its biggest teachers’ union. He devised and directed Britain’s first National Education and Careers exhibition, organised the biggest joint education campaign in British history, and appeared frequently in the media presenting the teachers’ case during the biggest strike yet staged by the profession.

Born in West Ham in 1924, Fred left school at 16 without any A levels, gained a distinction in his social science course at Liverpool University and a good honours degree in PPE at Oxford, where he was described as “perhaps the busiest man” in the university. While still a student, he stood for Parliament as the Labour candidate for Wallasey in the 1951 general election.


After battling with the Communists and their fellow travellers at home and abroad, he was elected president of the National Union of Students for 1952-54. He went on to become an official of the National Union of Teachers, serving as general secretary from 1975 to 1989. He became the first teachers’ representative (and the first Oxford graduate) to preside over the Trades Union Congress.
In 2009 the NUS presented Fred with its first Lifetime Commitment award, and in 2013 the Times Educational Supplement gave him its first Lifetime Service to Education award. Prime Minister Gordon Brown presented him with the Labour Party’s National Merit Award in 2008.

In his retirement, the self-styled “ageing cockney campaigner” is still involved in education, principally as the convenor of the New Visions for Education Group, but also finds time for his other main passions, photography and supporting the “Hammers”. 

Why I do this

Fred says: “I’m getting on a bit and don't get to as many meetings as I'd like, so I suppose it’s time to use technology and start a Blog. It is a chance to tell a story and let readers know a little more about me”.