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'Bewildered' GTC mulls legal fight for survival

The government could face a legal and political battle if it continues with plans to shut the General Teaching Council for England (GTC), its chief executive has told The TES.

Keith Bartley said he and his staff were "bewildered" by Education Secretary Michael Gove's decision to scrap the regulatory body.

Mr Bartley has revealed that no ministers have been in contact with him, either before or in the aftermath of last week's announcement. The organisation is seeking legal advice on its next steps.

"We want to know on whose advice the Secretary of State took his decision, he didn't seem able to say when he was questioned in the House of Commons," Mr Bartley said. "We wonder what's driving this policy. Our accountability is to Parliament, not to the minister, and we will continue working as normal until the primary legislation which founded us is changed."

It will be at least six months before legislation can be passed to end the GTC.

"This feels like a long way off, but this news is also immensely challenging for us," said Mr Bartley.

"We are shocked and bewildered and trying to come to terms with how we can operate under threat."

The GTC executive committee held an emergency meeting on Wednesday. In a statement, it warned that parents and employers could lose confidence in the profession if there was no comprehensive system for registering teachers.

It also said the Government would encounter difficulties in receiving the kind of impartial evidence currently offered by the council.

Mr Gove was scathing in his criticism of the GTC when he announced its demise, saying it gave teachers "almost nothing in return" for their registration fee.

Mr Bartley has defended the organisation's record, saying its teacher register is "world renowned for its security and accuracy".

Gail Mortimer, chair of the GTC, said: "We need to know more, because when Parliament considers the proposal in the autumn, it needs to make decisions that will strengthen standards of teaching and value the professionalism of teachers, not the reverse."

Analysis, pages 28-29.

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