Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Waste of Space

The Times Educational Supplement (TES) has an ‘exclusive’, yes, the earth shattering news that the General Teaching Council’s (GTC) board could be slimmed down from 64 members to just 12.

The current board is composed of –

a) 13 people directly appointed by the Secretary of State.
b) 17 members from other quangoes, obviously working on that sound playground principle -'if we let you go on our quango, we can have a go on yours'
c) 25 teachers - elected in a turnout so low that the dullest parliamentary by-election would struggle to emulate it
d) 9 nominees from teacher unions

Teachers with banners outside parliament with the slogan ‘Save the GTC’? It isn’t going to happen. Let’s just say that the GTC isn’t exactly teachers’ favourite quango.

Their latest wheeze has to been to float the idea of ‘active registration’. Teachers would have to prove their ‘commitment to, and participation in, continuing work-based learning’. English performance management frameworks require schools to identify teachers’ development needs. So it’s claimed that this measure would just apply to supply teachers and those coming back to teaching after a break.

Everyone wants a well-trained teaching profession. However, privatised supply agencies aren’t exactly in a rush to supply free training for teachers. The GTC Wales have also proposed that all serving teachers would have to enter the training they have completed on an online database – more intrusion into teachers’ working life.

One of the main reasons why the GTC is so unloved are the ludicrous cases that come before their disciplinary panels. One teacher was arraigned for “making silly faces and derogatory remarks about other members of staff, mimicking silly walks and using foul language.” There but for the grace of God go most of the teaching profession.

The most notorious case involved Scunthorpe secondary teacher Keith Robertson, he had an unblemished record from thirty-three years of teaching. At his hearing in October 2007 he was charged with ‘failing to return library books’ and calling a pupil who had sworn at him and accused him, incorrectly, of losing course work, a ‘waste of space’. Robinson told the deputy head another pupil had ‘a great big back and backside’. This remark was made in confidence to the deputy head in his office; he then reported the matter to the head. Robinson was cleared of unacceptable professional conduct. Average cost of GTC hearings? £12,000.

Truly a ‘waste of space’.


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